List of News Articles for HOA's

Article #02:
WATERPROOF DECK MAINTENANCE

Waterproof deck coatings need regular maintenance for long-term life.  In addition to repairing obvious damage such as burns, rips, holes, etc., the top layer of deck coating usually needs renewal several times a decade.

Modern waterproof coatings are composed of one or more waterproofing layers covered by one or more surface protection layers.  In simple language, the lower layers perform the waterproofing and the upper layers protect the lower layers.

The protective upper layers ablate chiefly from weather deterioration and usage abrasion.  Regular maintenance includes replacing these disappearing top layers every few years.  If the top layers, also called "topcoats," are replaced in a timely manner, the lower waterproof layers can last indefinitely.  If the topcoat is not replaced when needed, the waterproof layers start to deteriorate.  If these waterproof layers become severely damaged, the entire deck-coating surface will need replacement.

Acrylic coatings should be re-coated with a "top coat" about every three years while the more expensively installed urethane coatings will commonly last five years between re-coats.

Materials ...

For deck coatings, urethane compared to acrylic can be thought of as similar to comparing oil-base paint to latex-base paint.  The most important difference in the two deck coating systems is the ability to withstand water exposure.  Urethane deck coating treatment is the most reliable treatment for any deck.  Water can pool on urethane decks indefinitely without causing any damage.   Acrylic deck coating represents the best coating for decks that cannot be isolated for extended periods of repair work.  Water should never be allowed to pool on acrylic coatings for more than a few days, or deterioration can occur.  However, when a deck is sloped to shed all water within a day or less, an acrylic system works equally well as a urethane system.

Cost ...

Urethane deck coating is more costly to install than acrylic deck coating because urethane takes twenty-four hours without being walked upon, to cure, while, with careful planning and attention to atmospheric conditions, an acrylic installation can be cured in four hours.  For either system there are usually five separate application steps to cure, often on five successive days.

Because acrylic systems need a new topcoat more often than urethane systems, the cost is about equal in the long run.

The urethane system often requires temporary plywood walkways, elevated a few inches above the decks, to allow apartment dwellers access during the curing or occupants are housed in hotels for a week.  HOA's usually ask their members to schedule vacations during urethane deck installation.  The four-hour curing time of acrylic allows each step of this system to be installed while occupants simply avoid egress during that short time.

On surfaces not required for access, such as rear balconies, urethane is the best and most economical deck surface treatment.  Urethane is very difficult to install in cold, wet or harsh weather.  Plan for spring or summer installation for the best job and the lowest cost.  Installation is less expensive when the climate can be ignored.

What you see ...

... is not what you get!  A qualified property inspector is required to observe hundreds of items and report their status but cannot be expected to have expert opinions on all specialized items such as decks.  An expert in the deck-coating field can easily determine the status and composition of the deck surface.

For a property with a small number of decks a regular property inspection can suffice for reporting the deck status.  If the number of decks is large, or the decks are in critical places such as above interior rooms, then a deck expert should be called in for this part of any inspection report.

HOA's have a constant and serious problem with maintenance schedules for areas such as deck coatings, where deterioration is not obvious to the untrained viewer.  A competent property management firm will track these items, but if HOA's change their management firms then the new firm can often lose track of the deck maintenance schedule requirements.   This is a common problem.  The Simpson Company is often asked to report on the deck status of a property under new management and too often we find signs of serious, but unnoticeable, deck deterioration.  Usually in these cases, no one was tracking the necessary deck maintenance schedule.

Apartment complexes usually do not have the same problem with "losing" the schedule of maintenance.  Income-producing properties have persons who are cognizant of all maintenance required to continue the income of the property.  But apartment buildings and complexes have their own unique problem.  Waterproof decks on property being sold may have been allowed to deteriorate without the regular maintenance of re-coating when needed.  The decks may appear to be in good condition to a non-expert viewer while in fact neglect may have damaged the lower waterproofing layers.   Waterproof deck replacement, even without wood repair, usually costs 500% of the cost of a topcoat.  For example, on a 100-unit apartment complex, intentional neglect of re-coating a urethane deck system may have saved the owners $1,000.00 per unit every five years creating an additional profit of $400,000.00 over twenty years!  But the new owners now need to replace the entire deck coating systems, even though they may look undamaged or only slightly worn to the untrained viewer.

 

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Last updated on 28th May 2004.
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