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Let Us Address Your Zipper Questions!
What boat top zippers do you have and what zipper pull replacement do you need?
Identify the style of teeth you have: Coil vs Vislon
Two types of heavy-duty zippers used on boats and other outdoor zipper needs:
- Ziplon (coil) metal sliders only - Looking closely at ziplon (coil) teeth they resemble a continuous strand of spaghetti looped and coiled tightly together.
- Vislon (plastic zipper teeth) both metal and plastic sliders - Looking closely at the teeth on a vislon zipper you will see fully formed plastic teeth.
What is your zipper size?
- Coil - Some manufacturers, such as YKK, stamp the size on the metal. Unfortunately, the different sizes look very much the same.
- Vislon - It’s much easier. You can identify what size you have by the shape of the pull tab.
To help you determine the size of your Vislon sliders, we have created a graphic explanation. You will also see this zipper graphic in all of our zipper listings.
How do you fix your marine zipper?
Let’s have a look at the ways you can accomplish this task.
- Can you replace a zipper box?
- The box and pin are pressed on at the time of manufacturing. Once broken, they cannot be replaced so you must replace the entire zipper with a new one.
- How do you fix a broken zipper slider?
- If the tab you grab with your thumb and index finger has broken off, you can put a piece of cord through the slider or put a stainless-steel split key ring through the slider and use either of these to operate the slider.
- Can zipper sliders be replaced?
- Yes, you can replace any zipper slider if you know what brand and size you have.
- needle nose pliers or similar
- zipper stop (either stainless steel crimp on or plastic twist on)
- Take your scissors and go to the bottom of the zipper on the slider side and cut in between the last two zipper teeth right into the tape, just far enough that you can wiggle the zipper off between the cut tape.
- Then slide your new slider back up the cut tape, being sure you put the new one back on in the same direction as your old one.
- Use your pliers to crimp on a small stainless-steel zipper stop just above the cut you made with the scissors. This will keep the slider from dropping off of the bottom.
- Our stainless-steel crimp on zipper stop was designed for a #10 but will work on a #8 too. Alternatively, you can use the plastic zipper stop for #10 zippers. It works like a tooth cap, and you twist to lock in place
- My zipper slider came off, what can I do?
- Use the directions above to crimp on a stainless-steel stop on the last tooth on the side the slider lives on. Now your slider will stay on.
Plastic vs Metal Zipper Durability
Plastic sliders are not affected by salt water, so the problem of the zipper slider getting stuck in place is not going to happen. However, with plastic you sacrifice strength and over time that plastic begins to fatigue and weaken. Eventually, the tab will break off or it will no longer be able to hold the teeth together. For those of you who live on the coast and have to contend with salt water, plastic is best unless you are very good with your maintenance and are willing to replace your sliders yearly.
Metal sliders are much stronger and better at locking the teeth together. If you are in fresh water, it’s no contest that you should choose metal. If you prefer metal and you are near the sea, you can try using a product such as Salt Away to keep them moving freely and replace them often. Ultimately, the choice to use metal or plastic style remains with the boat owner and their ability to maintain the zippers.
Tip: Either way, replacing your zipper pulls regularly should be a part of your boat canvas maintenance.
What is the highest quality zipper?
Our Lenzip zippers are the only large outdoor zippers that are guaranteed for the life of the canvas. The first company ever to stand behind their products to that degree.
We also use them in our custom canvas shop for our boaters, race teams and other industrial applications.
What exactly is a marine zipper?
They are made with high grade parts formulated to last in harsh environments. Attention is given by manufacturers to the teeth, tape, and other parts which are treated with UV inhibitors to withstand sun and chemical exposure.
Usually, boat top zippers are #10 in size which are used in most custom canvas shops. Size #8 is often used by big production manufacturers. Occasionally, you will see smaller sized #5s used by the same manufacturers, but if your canvas has some of these small sizes, they will be the first to need replacing.
Boat canvas zippers are available as:
- Separating - (like a jacket) This style unzips and the two halves separate completely from one another. They include a box (female) and a pin (male) that mates and locks the zipper at the top. These are available in both coil and vislon.
- Chain - (zipper tape by the yard) This style is permanently sewn shut on one end or possibly both ends if sewn into a duffle bag for example. Chain is available in both vislon and coil.
Both styles are used in a variety of outdoor and other heavy-duty applications, such as tactical and luggage products.
Zipper Part Names
Terminology is important. It helps with search engine accuracy which in turn assures that you will get the right pull for the right zipper.
- Slider or pull - The entire mechanism that slides up and down the zipper.
- Tab - Sometimes single and sometimes double. This is the part you grab between your finger and thumb, and it’s used to slide the zipper slider up and down. It is quite often the piece that will break first.
- Box - The female square box at the top of the zipper found on separating zippers (zippers that come apart completely similar to a jacket).
- Pin - The male part at the top of a separating zipper. The male inserts into the female locking box. This locks the zipper together so it can’t come apart. There is a zipper stop at the bottom of a separating zipper. You will either have a factory-made zipper stop or you will be adding a zipper stop yourself to the bottom of the zipper. This will keep the slider from falling off the bottom.