The Art and Science Behind Exterior Deck Coatings

Exterior decks, patios, garages and walk ways are some of the most functional areas of any industrial or commercial facilities. They are also the most heavily trafficked and most exposed areas of the facility. Pedestrian traffic, as well as machine traffic, regularly occurs in these areas. These locations need to be operational and accessible whatever…

Exterior decks, patios, garages and walk ways are some of the most functional areas of any industrial or commercial facilities. They are also the most heavily trafficked and most exposed areas of the facility. Pedestrian traffic, as well as machine traffic, regularly occurs in these areas. These locations need to be operational and accessible whatever the weather conditions may be, being the major conduits that link every other location in the facility. It is no wonder then that these areas are more vulnerable to rapid degradation than the rest of the facility.

Exterior deck coatings, in particular, are often the first to fall into disrepair due to various sources of damages. That is why facility managers often set aside significant time and money for maintenance of exterior deck coatings. Maintenance of exterior deck coatings may involve surface resealing to prolong its useful life, or a complete overhaul and replacement of the entire coating system.

There are several types of outer coatings, depending on the characteristics and use. Urethane coatings are excellent for waterproofing solutions, although prior to rapid deterioration with their low-tolerance to damages. Waterproofing urethane coatings are applied in layers, with sand broadcasted on top of the sealed surface for better grip and Traction. Slip sheet decks are made of multi-layered materials and paper slipped over the original deck surface, to allow flexibility and prevent cracking when deck surfaces move due to varying temperatures and expand or contract through time.

Magnesite systems are made of quick-drying and non-combustible cement that is a favorite in many architectural designs. Although it is very durable, with a useful life of 20 years or more, it suffers in maintenance, because of its tension for surface cracking and water seepage, and has to be regularly restored. Other coating systems include pebble bond coating systems, acrylic systems, vinyl coating systems and fiberglass systems, among others.

How often should exterior deck coatings be repaired? It all depends on several factors. One is based on manufacturer's maintenance recommendations, usually every 2 or 3 years, or as recommended by the coating contractor. Another factor is the role or use of the deck in the facility. Is it constantly exposed to foot traffic? Or is it infinitely used? How often the exterior deck coatings is repaired or maintained is also another factor. Yet another critical factor in determining how often external coatings should be repaired or maintained is its exposure to natural elements like sun, rain, snow or high temperature.

In general, exterior coatings are repaired when they show signs of deterioration in their condition, which is bought on by the factors enumerated above. The best way to determine when it's time to repair deck coatings is through an accurate inspection of a skilled painting contractor, who can spot problems and recommend solutions reliably.

When the question of repair and maintenance of exterior deck coatings comes up, can facility owners waive this activity? The answer depends on the criticality of the deck or area to the facility, and whether the facility can take the risk of a degraded deck performance. Disrepair can certainly shorten the useful life of deck coatings, and may end up costing the facility far more in terms of relocation or total overhaul.