Choosing a Synthetic Teak Deck for your Boat.
The 3 Considerations of Equal Importance
1) Synthetic Teak Material
Synthetic teak is a relatively new product to the market and the appearance has improved over the years. We have all seen some plastic horrors and decks falling apart. Things have thankfully improved over the years. There are now a number of material brands on the market to choose from. The most expensive component of synthetic teak decking is PVC and the decks containing 100% Virgin PVC will be the most expensive to produce. Recycled content will tend to dull and change colour so ask if the material is 100% Virgin content without recycled content. If the material contains additives rather than recycled content then there are different considerations. Additives in sufficient quantity can reduce the weight of the product which may be important for boats like catamarans. However, they also effect the durability of the deck and the life of the deck, particularly at the welds. Some additives cause the deck to mark more easily so it is worth doing a few red wine tests, imperative importance in a boat cockpit. So in short, additives may enhance the appearance but unfortunately at the expense of the durabilty.
In addition, the deck panel strength is also governed by the type of extrusions themselves. In short, how is the deck welded together? Heat welding is a professional method to join the material together and provides a far, far stronger deck compared to bonding the strips together with solvent adhesive. Bonding together using solvents is considered to be more a DIY method. Some deck systems may even combine both solvent welding and heat welding at the deck margins for added strength.
2) The Fabricator Welder
Having the perfect material is wasted if the welder is inexperienced or poorly trained. This is a skilled job both in interpreting templates to get the desired panel pattern and knowing how to weld properly in synthetic teak material. Both the heat of the welder and the speed of welding play an important part. Fitters are non too happy if the deck panel disintegrates into its component parts or the pattern does not conform to the boat type. Some welders sometimes get carried away and over embellish the pattern so it becomes more a work of art ready for an art gallery rather than a boat floor. Try and find out who is welding your deck and his level of experience. The more experienced ones put together amazing decks at amazing speeds.
3) The Fitter
Having the perfect material and the perfect panel can all turn sour if the fitter covers the deck with polymer adhesive and his caulking lines resemble the path of a drunken man walking a pavement. The ideal fitter is a careful methodical person who takes his time and pays attention to detail. He is the exact opposite personality of an experienced welder fabricator - he actually gets slower with more experience. He is usually the person who takes the template so without those perfection qualities the whole project can turn into a nightmare. Taking extra time pays dividends.