All About Vinyl
May 29, 2011 5:59 PM | Tagged as vinyl mildew
What is Vinyl?
Vinyl is a UV-sensitive material which degrades when exposed to sunlight. Maintaining the integrity of the topcoat and protecting against UV damage are the keys to keeping vinyl looking and performing "like new".
An enlarged sideview of common vinyl fabric would show raw PVC (polyvinyl chloride) covered by a thin layer of plastic called the "topcoat". The topcoat is the part of the vinyl you can see and touch. To keep vinyl fabric soft and flexible, manufacturers add agents known as plasticizers to the raw PVC. A major function of the topcoat is to hold in these plasticizers, which otherwise would quickly evaporate. If the topcoat is damaged or degraded, plasticizers begin to escape leading to embrittlement/cracking/failure.
Protecting the topcoat, then, is the most crucial aspect of properly maintaining vinyl, and the subject with which vinyl manufacturers are most concerned. Vinyl manufacturers agree on and recommend the following.
Tough Mildew Stains
Obviously abrasives should never be used on vinyl. Petroleum distillates are a universal "no-no" for both vinyl and rubber. Waxes should never be used on vinyl because (a) Most waxes contain petroleum distillates, (b) Wax is a build-up product, holding in the heat absorbed from the sun and accelerating heat damage.
Virtually all vinyl manufacturers agree that no type of oil should be used on vinyl. Silicone oil vinyl treatments should not be used for several reasons; 1) Silicone oil formulations typically attack the vinyl topcoat, 2) Silicone oil formulations usually contain no effective UV screening ingredients, 3) Silicone oil formulations are build-up products which accelerate heat damage, 4) Silicone oil formulations are greasy and oily, attract dust, and soil more quickly. READ THE LABEL! Product directions suggesting more than one coat for better cosmetic enhancement are build-up products and are recommended against by vinyl manufacturers.
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