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The perfect product for rooftop patio

QuestionOur north-facing front porch has a plywood roof, and an upstairs door leads out to this rather nice rooftop patio. The patio is covered with outdoor carpet, which is very hard to keep clean. Do you know of any vinyl-type product that would be suitable to recover the patio?

AnswerI reviewed a product for my book, Build Smarter with Alternative Materials, that I believe may be what you seek. The product is by VersaDek, a company that has been in business more than 20 years. They offer a high-quality line of decorative and waterproof interior and exterior PVC vinyls with a polyester backing.

Their "Ultra" carries a lifetime warranty for residential and five years limited for commercial applications. The product exceeds the standard for slip-resistance set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means this product can be installed on any walking surface, including ramps.

Ultra is an open-texture commercial weight product that resembles a level looped carpet. It is 72 inches wide and can be installed over almost any solid substrate, including previously coated surfaces. It's tough and durable, yet flexible enough to expand and contract with the substrate without cracking or splitting.

Versadek's vinyl products are ideal for covering decks, balconies, patios, swimming pool and hot tub areas, as well as docks. It comes in mist, gray, cinnamon, and sandbar.

Product installation is similar to laying vinyl flooring. Their troweled-on adhesive achieves an incredible grip on wood, concrete, and most other building materials. It is both an adhesive and a sealant and helps the vinyl wear layer to waterproof the substrate. The system cannot be installed directly over asphaltic-based products (tar, roof sealant, driveways, etc.) because it will discolor.

The manufacturer has gone to great lengths to create an installation manual that covers surface preparation, perimeter installation, types of adhesive and application, installation of the vinyl, seaming, caulking, drains, and ventilation. While the product still uses overlap head weld seams, their new process uses a cold weld butt seam—the perfect choice for a completely flat look.

Before application of any vinyl-type product, you need to address the substrate, which you tell me is currently covered with outdoor carpet. Depending on how this carpet was installed, the substrate could have sustained water damage. To determine if water damage is present, grab a corner of the carpet and peel it back. This process may require two individuals: one to pull on the carpet and one to wield a floor scraper to cut the adhesive as the carpet is pulled and lifted.

If the substrate is not damaged, then clean the surface of any remaining adhesive. Lacquer thinner will probably soften the adhesive enough so that small areas can be scraped up using the floor scraper.

If the substrate is damaged, then remove the plywood and replace it with exterior plywood. Professionally speaking, I believe the best approach would be to replace the substrate rather than just to remove the adhesive. This will give you a clean surface to work from which, in turn, will achieve a better-looking job.

Because this is a rooftop patio, the perimeter needs a minimum 36-inch-high railing around it to meet the building code. The railing must be designed so a 4-inch sphere (ball) cannot pass through it. A building permit is normally required to install or replace the guardrail.

To check out VersaDek, go to www.versadek.com or call them at 800-497-3325. They sell directly to consumers and VersaDek costs around $13.95 per square yard. While I believe you can handle this project, I still recommend that you hire a professional to ensure that the substrate is installed correctly to protect you from future water damage and from any liability if the handrail is not properly installed.

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Copyright © 2005, 2006, & 2007 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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