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Under Deck — Aluminum vs. Vinyl

June 11, 2017

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Under Deck — Aluminum vs. Vinyl

June 11, 2017

The Rain-Out Review

Outdoor Living

ISSUE 001 June 2017

Aluminum vs. Vinyl Under Deck


In this issue, we will compare and discuss the pros and cons of Aluminum Under Deck Ceilings to Plastic or Vinyl Under Deck Ceilings. 


Maybe you're in the market for an under deck ceiling and maybe you've never heard of one.  Either way, it's important to know what is available on the market and what the pros and cons are of the different types of materials offered. 


There are two main categories of under deck ceilings out there. One is coated aluminum and the other is vinyl. There is also a rubber membrane application, but it is necessary to install that during initial deck construction and in this article, we are only discussing under deck ceilings that can be installed at any time (during or after deck construction). 


There are ten points of comparison that are important to consider between these two totally different material types. 


1. Durability to Heat and Cold  

2. Choice of Colors

3. Leak Prevention

4. Durability to Wind and Ice

5. Environmental Impact

6. Maintenance Requirements 

7. Installation Requirements

8. Ease of Installation

9. Optional Accessories

10. Seamless Lengths


(The Under Deck Comparison Chart on the right is a quick reference to the pros and cons of the two different types of systems available.)


Let's take up each point individually:


1. Durability to Heat and Cold: Vinyl has a much higher expansion and contraction rate than Aluminum when exposed to variations in outdoor temperatures and therefore will shift, creak, increase sealant stress and reduce the overall lifetime of the under deck ceiling.


2. Choice of Colors: The vinyl under deck ceiling products on the market today have only two or three colors available due to the fact that the color in these systems must be mixed in with the plastic itself and is not able to be added effectively afterwards. An aluminum under deck ceiling system, on the other hand, is thoroughly cleaned and dried to remove impurities and then coated with a chemical treatment. It then has a thermo setting polyester enamel roll-coated on it and is baked at high temperatures for the outside coating and the reverse side is wash coated with a thermo setting polyester enamel to help resist corrosion. This gives the aluminum under deck ceiling many more options of colors.


3. Leak Prevention: Due to the heat and cold durability and the depth of the individual panels, aluminum is the clear winner in this category, as well.


4. Durability to Wind and Ice: Vinyl under deck ceilings become brittle in low temperatures and this is further facilitated by wind and ice. Aluminum under deck ceilings, conversely, are unfazed by the ever-changing outside elements.


5. Environmental Impact (Eco-Friendliness): Aluminum under deck ceilings win this category by a landslide due to the fact that they are not only created from recycled materials, but they are also still able to be recycled afterwards. Vinyl under deck ceilings are made from virgin plastic (not recycled material). 


6. Maintenance Requirements: Both types of systems have low to no maintenance requirements.


7. Installation Requirements: When installing the system on pressure treated wood, vinyl or aluminum are both valid options. Vinyl has no reaction to pressure treated chemicals, while aluminum can be in direct contact with some types of pressure treated chemicals (MCQ and MCA) and not others (ACQ and MCA). When a non-optimum treated chemical is to be attached to an aluminum system, neoprene (rubber) washers are used to separate the connection.


8. Ease of Installation: Due to the rigidity of the aluminum panels, they are much easier to install because they require less under-structure to attach to. This makes them easier to install but harder to ship.


9. Optional Accessories: Cutting aluminum without disrupting the integrity of the watertight under deck ceiling system is much easier and more effective than cutting a vinyl system and therefore it is much easier to add accessories to the aluminum system, such as recessed lighting, ceiling fans and heaters.


10. Seamless Lengths: Vinyl under deck ceilings come in two optional lengths: 12 ft and 16 ft.  Aluminum under deck ceilings are available in any length that is shippable. 


This concludes our comparison and has led us to the unanimous verdict that the aluminum under deck ceiling system is far superior to that of the vinyl system.  The only point of discussion left out of the above comparison is the cost difference from vinyl to aluminum. This was left out because the price difference varies and is negligible in today's market due to the fact that the Aluminum System that Rain-Out Under Deck Ceilings offers is priced to compete with the traditionally cheaper vinyl option.

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