Why does the underside of your vinyl decking matter? With many types of vinyl on the market, it’s important to know about the backing of this popular decking.
While you may not see it, the backing of your vinyl can make a big difference in the quality and lifespan of your sundeck. There are three main types of vinyl backing, and each has pros and cons to consider.
Most Popular Types of Vinyl Decking Backings
Fuzzy-Backed Vinyl Decking
Also known as ‘unwoven’ or ‘random polyester’, this backing resembles a felt material. The fuzzy fabric holds adhesive well and reduces stretching and distortion during installation. This kind of backing tends to be the least expensive and most widely available. Fuzzy-backing requires no lattice reinforcement, unlike the other two types of backing. This makes it flexible and very easy to work with when completing perimeter details.
Fuzzy-backing has a natural tendency to absorb glue. This can result in installers applying more adhesive than required to get the job done. When this happens, temporary bubbles may appear after application. If a water leak occurred, this same absorbency could cause water to wick along the fibres, increasing the risk of rot.
To achieve a water-tight seam, the fuzzy-backing must be burnt off. This completes the vinyl-to-vinyl weld. Installers who skip this step increase the likelihood of future failed seams. To avoid complications, fuzzy-backed vinyl is specified less often by builders.
Vinyl-Backed Vinyl Decking
Also known as smooth-backed vinyl, this backing doesn’t require much prep during installation. Unlike fuzzy-backing, there is no need to burn off the fabric layer. Architects and engineers often specify vinyl-backed vinyl decking in their projects. This is because of its strength and durability. The strength is due to the polyester lattice in the core of the vinyl. Vinyl-backed decking requires less experience to achieve a reliable seam.
Vinyl-backed vinyl does have a few draw backs. Due to its specific manufacturing requirements, it’s often more expensive. Additionally, the adhesive used (nitrile-based) is harder to work with. Installation requires a high level of skill, and if done incorrectly can result in wasted material. The adhesive is expensive and requires the installer to wear a mask, due to the high solvent content.
While the internal reinforcement adds strength, it sacrifices the flexibility of the material. This can make executing perimeter details challenging.
The different layers used in vinyl-backed vinyl decking often vary in colour. This leads to more visually obvious welds, which can be quite noticeable on darker deck patterns.
Scrim-Backed Vinyl Decking
Also known as woven-back vinyl decking, Duradek created this speciality vinyl product. Scrim-backed vinyl is a perfect hybrid solution for most homeowners. It reduces the risks, and maintains the advantages of the previous two backing types.
The polyester lattice on its exterior makes scrim-backed vinyl decking ideal in two ways:
It’s more resistant to moisture wicking than fuzzy-backed vinyl decking
It holds glue better better than vinyl-backed vinyl decking
Scrim-backed vinyl is much more forgiving to install. If the weld area is compromised by adhesive, the scrim can be removed and the materials re-used. The scrim can also be easily removed for difficult details to increase flexibility.
Scrim-backed vinyl is not as easy to weld as vinyl-backed vinyl. Scrim-backed vinyl may have some degree of moisture creep should a leak occur (but less than the moisture creep of fuzzy-backed vinyl).
Unlike fuzzy-backed and vinyl-backed vinyls, scrim-backed vinyl is only sold to trained installers. Duradek scrim-backed vinyl is a highly reliable product, due to it’s innovative design and high quality.
Which Vinyl Backing Is Best?
While every vinyl deck will have a backing type with its own benefits and risks, hiring a good contractor is your best choice. An experienced vinyl decking installer can work with any backing type. With the right contractor, you’ll get a beautiful, reliable, waterproof vinyl deck.