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Boat Repair- The Truth About Eisenglass Vs. Vinyl

Eisenglass Vs. Vinyl information at Boating.Guide

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If you’re a boat owner, you must have come across eisenglass vs. vinyl. Yes, they’re world-famous materials used to make clear glass windows. Since they’re thin strips and durable, they don’t take up much space in the boat.

However, when repairing the vessel, you might want to reconsider whether to install eisenglass or vinyl. Wondering why?

Eisenglass (or Isinglass) and vinyl are thin clear transparent sheets but differ in durability and performance. Vinyl is the successor of Isinglass and possesses advanced characteristics absent in the Isinglass. Thus, modern boat owners consider vinyl over Isinglass.

If you’re interested in learning the truth about Isinglass and vinyl, all you have to do is read this article until the end. It covers all the enticing and vital details in the form of the eisenglass vs. vinyl debate.

Eisenglass Vs. Vinyl

Isinglass is considered a brand by many people, which is wrong. Actually, “eisenglass” translates to “iron glass” in German, so now you know it has nothing to do with any brand. Let’s proceed with the debate. Here’s a short section for those who don’t have much information on isinglass/eisenglass and vinyl.

Isinglass- Quick Intro

Some people might confuse the Isinglass (as a window material) with the Isinglass (prepared from fish bladders), which is wrong. They’ve nothing to do with each other, and they share the same name.

  1. Production Method

Isinglass is another form of mica, a transparent mineral made out of liquid silicates of aluminum or potassium. Mica mining is worldwide, so there is no doubt about its availability. This mineral can be crystallized into different shapes and cut into thin strips and transparent sheets. 

  1. Application(s)

Its applications are broader than expected because it’s naturally durable and robust, and you can cut it into thin transparent sheets. So, you can always use Isinglass for your boat windows. The isinglass sheets are foldable, much like paper, but you cannot squeeze them when rolled to avoid damage.

Vinyl- Quick Intro

Unlike it, it’s a highly versatile plastic that is moldable as per the requirements. It can retain transparency/optical clarity and shine for years without impacting the overall performance or output. Since vinyl came into the picture much later, Isinglass is now its successor, which lacks a few exciting features, hence an unpopular and considerably outdated choice for boat windows.

  1. Production Method

Vinyl sheets used in windows are generally two thin sheets pressed between highly polished chrome plates. The high pressure compresses the two sheets into one fine, tough and durable vinyl sheet, perfect for use as a window material. Just like Isinglass, you can roll vinyl sheets like paper. Vinyl can arguably last much longer than Isinglass.

  1. Application(s)

A vinyl sheet is also perfect for boat window material because it’s as tough as Isinglass (or perhaps stiffer). You can always replace eisenglass with a vinyl sheet without any issues.

Vinyl Over Eisenglass

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’re pretty good to argue why to go for vinyl over eisenglass. There are plenty of good reasons, such as:

  1. Eisenglass carries the risk of yellowing, turning brittle, hazing, and peeling over a period, which isn’t true in the case of vinyl sheets.
  2. The easiest way to clean a vinyl sheet is with the help of water (and soap, if needed). Since it can retain transparency, you don’t have to hustle much when cleaning. Eisenglass, on the other hand, requires extensive cleaning (and maintenance).
  3. Due to the lack of popularity, eisenglass isn’t available easily. So even if you choose it over vinyl, you’ll rarely get the desired material(s).
  4. Several qualities of vinyl are manufactured by different manufacturers, meaning that you have a wide variety of choices.

Vinyl Windows Pros & Cons


  • Vinyl offers excellent thermal performance (unlike Isinglass). Several vinyl designs must be airtight and still function smoothly. However, some poor-quality vinyl, which may claim to be airtight, might be inefficient.
  • The installation is relatively easy and hustle-free. There’s no need to call the installation guy unless you’re utterly clueless about the installation process.


  • The boat market is flourished with fewer varieties of colors and styles when it comes to vinyl. So you might fail to find the desired colors and patterns.
  • Vinyl can still break easily, so you’ll have to knock it out.

Maintenance Guide

Please note that the cleaning process of both vinyl and Isinglass is almost the same. However, the maintenance and precaution(s) can slightly differ. This section deals with the maintenance of vinyl and Isinglass installed on the boat’s windows. Keep reading this condensed, informative cleaning/maintenance guide.

Cleaning Process

The cleaning process is straightforward and has no hustle (hence covered briefly).

  1. Rinse the sheet gently and thoroughly to remove any salt deposits. DO NOT spray a hard stream of water as it can crack the sheet.
  2. Now you should clean it with marine soap with the help of a clean mitt, which is designed especially for this purpose.
  3. You can apply suitable chemicals for better results without using household cleaning products. Alternatively, you can skip this step if you want a regular cleaning.
  4. Rinse the sheet again to get rid of soap water, and Voila!

Precautions For Isinglass

  • Isinglass can crack easily; hence it’s advisable to roll and store it in a bag instead of folding it. You can keep soft towels or something similar between the sheets for better safety.
  • Installing the Isinglass for the first time (in the spring) requires 1-2 days to straighten in warm weather.
  • Never leave Isinglass rolled up for a long time.
  • When rolling up the eisenglass, make sure it is dry as the leftover water can turn into fog.

Precautions For Vinyl

Vinyl, without a doubt, doesn’t require much care and precautions, but there are still a bunch of points you must consider.

  1. To ensure the longevity of vinyl sheets, you can coat them with chemicals, especially for this purpose. The chemical coating will protect the sheet from dirt and scratches and let it retain its transparency.
  2. Don’t use a rough cloth or paper to wipe the sheets. A soft cloth or something similar is better, or else it’ll develop scratches on the sheets, hindering visibility.
  3. You shall not touch the vinyl sheet with sunscreen on your hands.
  4. Sometimes people use any spray on the sheets, for instance, WRONG bug spray.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does the isinglass sheet turn yellow?

The sheet releases Hydrogen Chloride when exposed to light or ozone. The released chemical leaves behind the unsaturated double bond. However, a single bond will be colorless, so you won’t possibly see the yellow color. 

But when 4-5 double bonds get saturated on the surface, they absorb the blue light and reflect the yellow spectrum. The color of an object depends on the color spectrum it reflects, which is yellow in this case. As a result, the sheet starts to appear yellow over a while. Unfortunately, you can’t undo this phenomenon as it’s a chemical reaction.

Can vinyl turn yellow or hazy, etc.?

Vinyl sheets don’t possibly turn yellow but can become foggy, or the vision can distort. However, some manufacturers produce vinyl sheets, which are crystal clear, distortion-free, scratch-resistant, chemical resistant, and meant to last very long. 

Will I ever need professional help with Isinglass or vinyl?

Honestly, whenever you feel that your vinyl or Isinglass isn’t working correctly, you can help a pro fix the issue(s). However, that’s just a rare scenario, and you might never end up calling a professional.

How long can vinyl windows last?

If appropriately maintained, you can expect vinyl to last between 20 to 40 years. So basically, you might never have to buy another vinyl sheet for your boat windows if you cared nicely. On the other hand, a cheap vinyl may not last that long, so it’s always advisable to opt for a top-notch vinyl for your boat.

What’s the treatment for cloudy isinglass/vinyl?

If the windows (either Isinglass or vinyl) have got cloudy, the easiest way to clean them is by washing them with the water and vinegar mixture. Additionally, it would be best to use a microfiber cloth to avoid unwanted scratches.


Isinglass lacks several features (present in vinyl) and is considered outdated. Since it can turn yellow, hazy, or foggy, the sheet isn’t efficient in the long run. On the other hand, vinyl is better and cheaper, hence favored by most people. The FAQ section must have answered several common queries, and the maintenance guide must have shown that vinyl requires minimal maintenance and care. You must’ve learned pretty good reasons to go for vinyl over Isinglass by the end of this article.

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