When evaluating vinyl deck membrane choices before you purchase for your decking project, it is important to consider if you are buying proven performance or potential promises.
While the most important job of vinyl decking is actually waterproofing the deck and protecting the building envelope of the home, nobody wants to be left with an unattractive deck after a couple years of use.
All vinyl scuffs to some degree under certain conditions…as does wood, composite deck boards, even concrete. In fact almost everything we walk on scuffs, marks or fades over time. This is the inevitable, realistic result of a ‘wear surface’; particularly with decks under constant exposure to the elements. And anything under constant exposure to the elements will age to some degree.
Yes, long term results should be taken into consideration…BUT – be careful not to forgo the long term protection of a proven product with an appearance warranty for short term promises of “scuff resistance” that may have unexpected and unwelcome appearance issues over time.
Historically, clear protective top coats on deck vinyl have been a real issue and more than one company has had to replace many decks when their clear coat surface failed. In fact, not all companies that went through the experience were able to survive it.
Now once again, some companies are offering a “Scuff Resistant” clear top coat, but it has only been on the market a relatively short time and it offers no Appearance Warranty!!
Since clear top coats have historically been a problem on plastics under constant UV exposure, how do you determine how well a product will stand up in 10 years when it has only been on the market half that time? You enlist the services of an accredited testing agency like Atlas Material Testing Services that perform UV exposure tests to help answer that question.
We’ve talked a lot about clear top coats over the past couple of years because of our decades of experience and repeatedly witnessing the undesirable results of failed clear top coats. That is because we really want to drive home TWO very important facts.
1 – Accelerated Weather Testing shows that the currently available clear top coats that are in the marketplace today will very likely experience extreme appearance issues.
2 – Not all vinyl decking warranties cover appearance issues. In fact, Duradek Ultra 10 year warranties are the only published warranty we can find that specifically covers appearance issues.
Compare the three vinyl sample swatches below. One is Duradek and the other two others are other brands of vinyl decking (one that offers a clear top coat). These samples were tested side by side in the same accelerated UV exposure test.
Alarming, isn’t it?
Almost unbelievable, so these products were not just tested once, but twice…
More Vinyl Decking Accelerated UV Aging Testing Results
The images below show a progression of unaltered test results of accelerated UV exposure testing (ASTM G90) of two brands of vinyl deck membranes. The product on top is a vinyl product with a clear top coat. The vinyl on the bottom is the ‘tried and true’ Duradek membrane with a 40 year history and an appearance warranty.
The 2nd test included multiple product comparisons, and all those with a clear top coat exhibited the same failed results.
Download the images of the test result swatches in .pdf format:
Test #1 – AQ31696 – June 2012
Test #2 – AQ32825 – June 2013
Test #2b – AQ32825 – June 2013
Time, Tested and Approved (.pdf)
History of Clear Top Coats (.pdf)