Outdoor living space is a blessing but sometimes its maintenance can feel more like a curse. There are common deck problems that catch even the most prepared homeowners off-guard. It is easy to get caught between time-consuming, costly maintenance, or if neglected, perhaps expensive repairs. Deck owners often walk a fine line to get the most out of their outdoor living space for the least amount of money.
The type of decking products selected makes a notable impact on the amount of maintenance required for a deck. Since there is an abundance of options to choose from, consideration must include personal priorities of the look you want for your outdoor spaces, the lifespan you expect from your deck, and the maintenance to which you are willing to commit.
Common Deck Problems That Duradek Vinyl Decking Can Solve
Leaking Water Beneath the Deck
When a deck is elevated over outdoor space, water leaking below reduces the function of that space as a lower level patio or as dry outdoor storage. More critical to consider, if a deck is situated over living space, moisture getting through can be catastrophic by allowing significant damage to the building envelope and interior of the home before it is discovered.
Leaks resulting in rot and mold bring structural issues, health issues, and expensive repairs are sometimes difficult to trace the point of origin. Water can route itself through the hidden interior of the home from the original point of entry to where it eventually is revealed by stains or soft spots in ceilings or walls. Often by the time the problem is discovered, the damage is already done and repair costs to the home’s interior cannot be avoided.
The problem of water leaking beneath the deck surface solved by Duradek vinyl membrane
Duradek is tested and 3rd party evaluated for use as both a deck walking surface and as a roofing membrane. The quality of the waterproof performance of the vinyl combined with the professional installation details required to protect the building envelope makes Duradek the ideal solution for roof decks over living space or a dry area below a deck. It completely seals the deck sub-surface, ensuring water never reaches the building envelope and completely protects everything below.
Rot and Deteriorating Lumber
Perhaps the most common deck problem of all…wood rot. Once wood rot begins it is just a matter of time until it spreads to the point of complete deterioration. Even pressure-treated wood must be sealed regularly for moisture protection or prolonged exposure to rain and snow will allow moisture to penetrate the wood and compromise the deck structure.
Deck problem of wood rot solved by Duradek vinyl decking
When professionally installed, vinyl membrane waterproofing completely seals the deck structure – even at common points of vulnerability. By preventing both the sun and the moisture from getting to the lumber, it will last indefinitely. Costly structural repairs will be eliminated.
Painting and Staining
Painting and staining a deck is not just for aesthetics. It helps to protect a wood deck to keep water from penetrating the wood and subjecting it to rot. It is a labor-intensive chore that should be completed roughly every 1-3 years. Neglecting these maintenance tasks can result in requiring a complete rebuild if wood rot sets in (see above point – rot and deteriorating lumber).
Deck problem of annual recoating solved by Duradek vinyl decking
Time and material savings will result from the application of the Duradek system. Once Duradek is installed, there is no reapplication necessary for its waterproof performance lifetime. All that is required is cleaning four times a year. The membranes come in an excellent selection of patterns and colors. Over many years under high UV exposure, like most items outdoors, the vinyl may fade. In that case, you may recoat in a solid color to freshen up the appearance, but it is not at all necessary for the waterproofing.
Not to imply alarm, but when deck collapse tragedies occur, the forensic analysis often indicates the failure occurs at the deck fastening points at the ledger board where the deck joins the wall of the building. Typically, construction complied with building code, but over time if moisture weakens the wood at the ledger board where the fasteners connect the deck, the wood may not stay strong enough to hold the fasteners in place. Adding an extra heavy load of too many people on the deck causing extra stress can result in those fasteners pulling loose.
Besides structural integrity, the surface of a deck influences its safety for use. Splinters or raised nail heads can be a painful nuisance on bare feet. Wet, exposed wood can on a deck can cause it to be quite slippery, making unsafe footing.
Common deck safety problems reduced by Duradek
Since Duradek is integrated into the building envelope, it significantly reduces the possibility of water damage to the ledger board. In many deck systems, flashing alone is the barrier of water going between the wall of the house and the ledger board that connects the deck. The Duradek vinyl membrane is extended from the deck surface up the interior wall (building exterior), eliminating that point of entry for moisture. This greatly reduces structural vulnerabilities at deck fastening points.
On the surface, the embossed texture of a vinyl deck will increase the slip resistance as well as prevent injuries due to slivers or raised nail heads.
Mold and mildew can quickly build up on a deck, particularly in very wet climates. Besides being unattractive, organic build-up can be unpleasant to walk on and contribute to a slippery surface.
Duradek provides built-in bacterial resistance.
The composition of Duradek viny includes built-in mold and mildew inhibitors. With some vinyl decking brands, these additives are only included in a portion of the overall thickness. With Duradek they are added through the entire thickness of the vinyl. This means they will last longer overall for the lifetime of the deck. These additives allow the surface to quickly and easily be cleaned and discourages algae or other bacteria growth. Mildew (along with mold, moss, and algae) growth has little effect on the surfaces as long as they are cleaned regularly with Duradek approved solutions
The Problem of Lack of Chemical Resistance
Not all decking products are safe to exposure to chemicals like snow removing agents or swimming pool chemicals. Incompatible chemicals can cause discoloration, or in the worse cases, degradation of the product. With products that have low chemical resistance, even environmental factors like acid rain can harm the deck surface.
Reliable chemical resistance
Duradek vinyl decking was tested per ICC ES Acceptance criteria for Walking Decks, AC-39, and was shown to meet chemical resistance requirements. This means it able to safely be used adjacent to pools and spas, making Duradek an ideal solution for pool decks or hot tub surrounds.
Snow removal chemicals, swimming pool chemicals, and acid rain have little effect on a Duradek vinyl deck surface as long as the deck is cleaned recommended with Duradek approved solutions. Always thoroughly rinse snow removal chemicals and cleaning agents before high sun exposure that can ‘bake’ those chemicals into the vinyl surface.
The Common Deck Problems of Expansion/Contraction of the Sub-surface
Temperature changes will cause all deck sub-surfaces to expand and contract. The more extreme the seasonal changes, the more dramatic the effect of this subtle, but significant movement. Deck surfaces like cementitious or liquid coatings do not typically have the elasticity to move with the substrate. This movement results in cracks and possibly chipping, which provides an entry point for moisture to get below the coating to the deck sub-surface.
Duradek vinyl decking eliminates problems associated with expansion/contraction of the sub-surface
The vinyl membrane bridges all cracks and moves continuously with the sub-surface. The membrane fully adheres to the substrate. When the sub-surface expands and contracts, the membrane easily moves with it. The single-ply system has been proven in the roofing and waterproofing industry to be a superior method of protecting surfaces subject to a lot of movement. Duradek has been 3rd party tested to show some of the best elasticity of products in the vinyl membrane category.
Spalling Concrete and Rusted Re-bar
Concrete can be a durable wear surface but the effects of the freeze/thaw cycle can cause notable surface damage and require regular maintenance to prevent degradation and poor appearance.
A vinyl membrane can prevent damage to concrete surfaces
By protecting concrete surfaces with a vinyl membrane, you can prevent the surface damage caused by the freeze/thaw cycle. That means you can avoid expensive structural repairs due to the rusted reinforcing metals inside cracked concrete.
Expansion/Contraction of Metal Flashings
Many liquid coatings fail where the metal flashings join the sub-surface or overlap due to the continual movement. They rely on adhesion to the metals.
Duradek vinyl membranes protect perimeter flashings
The Duradek sheet vinyl system completely covers the metal flashings which will eliminate potential leaks at the junctions. (see above Safety section for more details)
Common Deck Problems Include Completion Time/Repeat Visits to Jobsite
Liquid systems often need 2-3 days to complete. That can extensively can tie up a job site. Besides the possibility of holding up other trades, it means longer delays to be able to use the deck.
Reducing the time required on the job site with vinyl decking
The Duradek sheet vinyl system can be completed in one step (one day) and used immediately.
Climate Condition Challenges for Optimum Installations
Fiberglass, liquid, or cementitious coatings require specific weather conditions. It must be dry and at ideal temperatures for adequate drying. This is especially true in multi-coat systems. Further, many liquid coatings are mixed on the job site and require specific, exact ratios. Rushed or inexperienced contractors may inadvertently mix an incorrect ratio resulting in a poorly performing product.
The Flexibility of Climate Conditions for Sheet Vinyl
Sheet vinyl systems arrive on the job site premanufactured so there is no guesswork involved in its composition. Installation can take place under a wide variety of weather conditions ranging from below freezing to hot direct sun. While dry weather makes for faster installation, the only requirement is the substrate is free from moisture so the use of tarps allows applicators to install Duradek virtually year-round.
Covering Existing Coatings
Many liquid applied products can easily claim that they can cover existing coatings. The real question is: will it stay adhered to the previous coating on the deck? The adhering to the coating is where the problems arise. Coatings fail because they crack, peel, and delaminate. Similar to when you apply new paint over old paint, the new paint would stick to the old paint, but when the old paint peels away, the new paint goes with it.
Satisfactory Results in Covering Almost Any Previously Coated Surface
Duradek can cover almost any existing substrate, in addition to possibly previously coated surfaces. Following the substrate preparation recommendations for Sealed or Coated Surfaces helps prepare a coated surface to allow a Duradek membrane to adhere properly. First, any loose coating must be scraped and ground off of the substrate, followed by a power wash. Then the surface must be sealed with Zinsser BIN (as recommended) before the vinyl installation. Following the recommended directions to prepare the substrate ensures your Duradek vinyl will perform as intended. (See Techtalk #161 – Duradek Application to Sealed or Coated Surfaces.pdf)
Weight/Maintenance of Deck Assemblies Can be a Common Problem
For some decks that require waterproof protection like a deck over a garage or living space, contractors may turn to a traditional roofing product like torch-on that require open flame on the jobsite. While that will do the job of keeping the rain off the area, it requires an additional surface layer for use as a recreation or leisure deck. You must account for extra weight and height when adding cedar or composite boards, concrete pavers, or other wear surfaces. Can the deck structure support the extra load? Does door access allow for the extra height? This type of solution can bring up unexpected problems and require more work than anticipated. However, if you prefer the look of an additional wear surface on your deck and if your structure can accommodate the height and weight, Duradek membranes are an excellent waterproofing component in floating deck systems.
Less weight and maintenance with a single-ply membrane
Duradek waterproof membranes are designed for pedestrian traffic and do not need to be protected by cedar boards or concrete pavers. Duradek is both a roofing membrane and foot traffic surface in a single-ply solution. It undergoes 3rd party testing to show it meets building code for both applications and bring good value for strong performance as a waterproof roof deck surface.
Appearance Maintenance can be Time Consuming
Wood decks need regular maintenance of sanding, staining, or painting every couple of years to keep them waterproof and to keep them looking good. Concrete or coated deck surfaces need recoating every few years to resist cracking and maintain a pleasing appearance. Even most traditional waterproofing membranes lack an attractive surface appearance.
Duradek vinyl decking is a reliable waterproofing product that happens to look great – without added effort
Duradek sheet vinyl offers a clean, bright, luxurious appearance. It is available in a wide choice of colors and patterns in contemporary styles, nature-inspired designs, and traditional exterior colors and textures. Duradek can easily complement the exterior design and enhance the overall decor of the home or building. The only thing required to keep it looking great is cleaning with Duradek vinyl cleaner or another gentle, green cleaning agent(s). Duradek recommends cleaning vinyl deck surfaces four times a year.
Life Cycle Costs Can Add Up
When first comparing deck building and waterproofing products, the initial cost to install is only part of the picture. To ensure you are getting value for your decking products, consider the maintenance requirements for the overall life expectancy for your deck. If waterproofing maintenance is not performed as needed, you can be faced with the higher cost of structural repairs.
A waterproof membrane can help you extend the overall life of your deck
Duradek vinyl will last from 15 to 25+ years depending on several factors including care and environmental exposure. There have been many cases where after more than 30 years, the Duradek vinyl was replaced simply to freshen up the appearance. With professional installation, high-performing waterproof protection means the structure of the deck and the original plywood substrate can typically be reused. When properly protected, the structure of the deck has a very long lifespan.
See details on a 32-year-old deck in our article, When it Comes to Vinyl Decking, Is Thicker Better?
What Happens When a Manufacturer Does Not Back Up Their Warranty
While there are many reputable manufacturers out there, there are also many whose warranties may say a lot but offer little in the way of real protection. Loopholes, conditions, and term variations can all leave homeowners holding the bag when they have a problem with their deck.
Real protection to the homeowner matters to Duradek
The team at Duradek knows that even a high-quality waterproof membrane with every level of quality assurance will fail if it is not installed with professional waterproofing details. Homeowners often run into trouble with leaks when taking a DIY approach or using contractors unfamiliar with protecting the building envelope. That is one of the reasons that Duradek only sells its products through a network of trained applicators. This allows the company to confidently offer a written 3-tiered, warranty that includes material, appearance, and labor. Duradek is one of the only vinyl membrane companies that provide a transferable warranty. If you sell your home, the same terms that protect the deck are passed to the new owner. That’s real value.
Download this brief overview of the common problems that Duradek can solve.
Avoid Common Deck Problems by Relying on a Duradek Professional
Duradek installers are trained in the proven application, waterproofing, and building envelope techniques. That ensures your deck is protected from moisture. To enjoy the advantages of a low maintenance deck, contact one of our authorized applicators for your next decking project.