Soft Top Replacement Topping Material: Vinyl vs. Cloth

Vinyl and cloth convertible tops have been a staple in car culture since the 1950s. Many convertible tops are made of vinyl, which has been around for decades as a durable, soft, and cheap material and each material offers a unique set of pros and cons. One may be better for your vehicle than the other, so here is a breakdown of the differences between vinyl and cloth convertible tops to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Vinyl Convertible Tops

Vinyl has been used as a material for automobile hoods since the early days of automobile ownership. It wasn’t long before people discovered that vinyl was more durable and easy to maintain than leather, leading to the use of vinyl across the hood of an automobile.

The vinyl convertible top usually requires less upkeep than the cloth one, which is among the main reasons that users select them. Owners who select cloth tops also enjoy the feel of the glossy top, whereas vinyl tops have to be scrubbed or cleaned. You can use ordinary car shampoo to wash your vinyl top, and you always ought to wash your top when you wash the rest of the automobile.

Cloth Convertible Tops

Cloth tops are the most popular type of convertible top and can be found on such vehicles as the Mazda Miata and Nissan 370Z. They can also be found on Camaros, Celicas, Vipers, Firebirds, and several European automobiles. Cloth (canvas) convertible tops are made using three plies: an acrylic square-weave outer layer, a butyl rubber inner material, and a cotton drill lining layer.

Special brushes are made for cleaning your retractable-lining fabric convertible top, and using the wrong type of brush can cause damage to it, such as small rips or tears. These tops are chemically treated during production to repel water, but over time, this deter-feature is lost and you’ll need to restore the top with a specialized fabric guard. Using a specific protectant on her top will help its looks and may add to its longevity.

Convertible Tops: Vinyl vs. Cloth

When choosing between a canvas and vinyl convertible top, here are some considerations:


The canvas top has a classic convertible appearance, likely making it win in the looks category. This is contingent on the brand used, but it nevertheless maintains an appearance like that of many cars. Vinyl tops are also nice, but they can never be mistaken for soft-top canvas.


For some car owners, a quiet ride is really important. Canvas is the winner here since the wind won’t bounce noisily off of it as it might with a vinyl top. However, since many riders will generally drive with the top down whenever possible, this may not be an issue.

Maintenance & Upkeep

Maintenance plays a large role in determining which material is best for your car. The vinyl top is well known for being easy to clean. Substances like tree sap or bird droppings, which tend to penetrate cloth deeply, can be removed easily from vinyl. These kinds of tops, however, can be appropriately maintained for a long time to come.


The price difference between canvas and vinyl can be over $100, with canvas costing considerably more. This can be an issue for certain individuals, but if you are willing to spend the money, you should feel good about buying canvas.


If you’re looking for a soft-top replacement, you have a lot of options. You can have a custom fabric-top made, get a soft-top that comes in a variety of colours, or go with a standard vinyl top. The best choice will depend on how much money you want to spend, how you want your top to look and how much you’ll use it.