Before you begin to measure a bimini top, you need to ensure that it is set in the correct place. Ensure that the bimini top is set at the midpoint of the area that you want it to cover so you can determine the right width, length, and height.
The mounting point is also important as it may be the top of the gunnel, a railing, or even the windshield. The width is likely the most important dimension to consider but also the easiest to measure.
In this guide, we will look at how to measure the bimini top for your boat, including every dimension.
How To Measure A Bimini Top
While the width can be measured from side to side, the other two dimensions are more subjectively measured. The height and length can be down to your personal preference so you may want to try out different measurements to see what works.
The bimini does not need to cover the entire boat from bow to stern, you just need to know how much of the boat you want it to cover.
That may simply be the front half so you have some shade and an area to relax in when the sun is beating down.
You should still need to use the steering wheel and the dashboard so as long as the bimini top covers that area, it’s ready to go.
The bimini top can measure between five and nine feet in length. For instance, a large boat should dictate a bimini of eight to nine feet (typically for bigger pontoon boats) with the average length being around six feet.
To measure the length accurately;
- Mark the midpoint of the bimini top area with a pencil or a piece of chalk. This is the central point of the area that the bimini top would cover so it will be a crucial reference point for the measurements of all the dimensions.
- Measure to the ideal point you want the bimini top to extend to along the width.
- Make sure that the mark you created for the midpoint is right in the middle so for an eight-foot-long bimini top, there should be four feet behind that mark and another four feet in front.
The midpoint will also be used to determine the width of the bimini top. You can measure completely across from port to starboard.
However, if you want to make sure that the midpoint you marked is indeed in the center of the boat then measure either side of it, just like you did for the length.
Both measurements should be equal though consider the style of bimini top you want too.
Should the bimini top be mounted to the railing inside the boat then that’s a different measurement than if it was mounted on the windshield or the top of the gunnel.
The bimini top may even be mounted on the outside or on the side of the boat so use a tape measure to determine the measurement based on that intention.
Finally, the height of your bimini top is another that can be a matter of preference. Whereas you should have specific mounting points in mind relating to the width for your bimini top, the height may be down to how much shade you want and how tall the passengers are.
It can be as easy as measuring straight up from the central mounting point to your desired height.
Make sure it is measured from the mounting point and not the floor and remember that more height means less shade.
The height of the bimini top will certainly relate to your own height and that of your passengers so stand inside your boat and imagine the difference that a few inches can make.
If you are anticipating trips out with buddies and you all measure over six feet tall then take that into account so fewer people have to crouch to enter. The bimini top should be at a comfortable height but not too tall as you may end up eliminating the sunshine.
Also, think about whether you want to stand under the bimini while you drive the boat or if you prefer to sit while you enjoy the shade.
When you are measuring the height, you may want to consider the total clearance too. This is quite simple as you need to add the proposed height of the bimini top to that of the height from the floor of the boat to the mounting point.
Let’s say you have 15” from the floor up to the mounting point, if you want a bimini top with a height of 35” then the total clearance will be 50”. While this is not a crucial measurement, it is worth noting down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Materials Should I Consider For My Bimini Top?
Sunlight will degrade a lot of materials over time so opt for one that should last a bit longer. It should still be top-quality and marine-grade, waterproof, and easy to clean.
Other points to consider are how soft, easy to store, and lightweight the material is so you can easily remove it and then keep it somewhere until you need it again.
Vinyl should be cost-effective while polyester will be resistant to shrinking and stretching when wet as well as be quick to dry out.
Acrylic can also be a good choice as it proves to be resistant to most types of weather as well as fading while remaining durable.
Why is the laying length of the bimini top so important?
When the bimini top is not being deployed, it may be designed to lay flat. As the bows are nestled together, the bimini top should become longer when laid down.
If you do not have that much space in your boat then the laying length becomes an important measurement.
You can work out the laying length by measuring from the top of your mounting point or deck hinge right up to the top of the frame when it is laying flat.