Fortress Blog

Monday, June 8, 2020

UV Protection and Slip Resistance for PVC Decking: Why They Matter

PVC decking has become an increasingly popular choice for builders and homeowners seeking long term decking solutions. Often compared to traditional lumber, the use of PVC eliminates the headaches typically associated with hardwood decking - such as mold, splintering and warping. And, thanks to advances in decking technologies such as the incorporation of a textured resin cap and acrylic polymers, PVC decking creates traction underfoot, while providing outstanding UV performance.

Though often overlooked, the levels of UV protection and slip resistance afforded by deck boards are crucial factors to consider when striving for safe, resilient decking. So how does PVC compare when looking at alternative decking materials such as traditional wood? Read along as we break down the importance of both UV protection and slip resistance, and how PVC stacks up to the competition.

 

UV Protection

One of the main complaints associated with wood deck boards is discoloration after years, or even just months, of exposure to sunlight. UV rays are the active agent of solar weathering and can be quite damaging to deck boards over time. These harmful rays dry out the cellular structure of traditional decking boards, leaving one-rich, brown hues a drab weathered grey. And consequently, if discolored boards ever need to be replaced, the new replacement board will be in sharp contrast to the battered look of the existing wood boards.

PVC decking product lines, like Fortress® Apex™ PVC decking, address this issue by encapsulating every individual board in an acrylic polymer that acts as “decking sunscreen.” Using acrylic polymers to provide a barrier between UV rays is extremely effective, and offers added benefits such as high gloss, color retention, durability and the ability to transmit water vapor more efficiently. With PVC, homeowners can rest easy knowing their decking will retain its rich color even after years of exposure to the sun (and the Joneses would never guess it’s not brand new).

 

Slip Resistance

In addition to offering elevated UV protection, PVC decking provides some of the highest slip resistance ratings in the industry. Slip resistance is assessed by a third-party testing facility and can be quantified by tests such as the Wet Pendulum test, Coefficient of Friction test, Wet-barefoot Inclining Platform test and Oil-wet Inclining Platform test. These tests are designed to measure the coefficient of friction, or the resistance to slip accidents, of various flooring surfaces.

Perhaps most suitable for PVC decking applications is the Wet-barefoot Inclining Platform test - a ramp test that involves bare feet and soapy water. This test is highly practical, as it measures the risk of a barefoot person running around wet surfaces, such as the deck around a swimming pool, at a 24 degree or greater incline.

By testing deck boards under applicable conditions before bringing them to market, PVC manufacturers are able to reduce the likelihood of falls from slipping in high-moisture conditions. And, while the level of slip-resistance of PVC deck boards varies by brand, most boards utilize an acrylic resin cap with a slightly “grabby” surface to provide enhanced levels of friction when compared to other decking alternatives.

These resin caps also include antimicrobials, which can mitigate slip and fall risk through the reduction of surface slip agents such as bacteria, mold, or algae growth.

How Apex® PVC Decking Compares

When compared to the competition, Fortress Apex PVC decking performs best-in-class for both UV protection and slip resistance. In the above mentioned Wet-barefoot Inclining Platform Test, the highest classification, C, is set at greater or equal to a 24 degree incline. Apex received a score of 34-degree incline. To put it in perspective, Filbert Street in San Francisco has a maximum gradient of 17.5 degrees, which is still only half the angle of incline you can walk up barefoot on soapy water on an Apex deck.

In addition to delivering safety, Apex PVC decking utilizes a proprietary tri-extrusion process that lends itself to the beautiful look of rich, tropical hardwoods. When using PVC decking like Apex, builders and homeowners can achieve the aesthetic appeal of wood, without the stressors of fading or deck deterioration.

To learn more about the advantages of PVC decking and to discover other ways in which Fortress delivers the total solution for decking concerns, visit fortressbp.com/decking/apex.

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