Next-gen coating transforms the look and performance of our vinyl products.
Have you ever tried to paint vinyl? It’s not easy. Adhesion to vinyl, a plastic material, is tricky at best. What’s more, vinyl reacts to changing temperatures by expanding or contracting. You know what that does to most paints.
For vinyl window and patio door manufacturers, the coating question is especially challenging. How do you offer on-trend exterior colors like black or bronze on affordable, high-performing vinyl windows and patio doors without risking costly warranty claims?
Our push to identify an exterior paint replacement for vinyl began about three years ago. The candidates included powder coating and co-extrusion, two long-established finishing methods. However, both were ruled out early over manufacturing concerns.
A third process called film lamination showed more promise. The material science is simple enough. A plastic film with elastic properties is affixed to a vinyl window or patio door profile with adhesive and rollers. The result is visually impressive. “Finish consistency is amazing,” reports Jerry Jones, director of product engineering for our vinyl, aluminum, and composite windows. “There are no variations in mil thickness, reflectivity, or gloss level. There’s no bleed-through of the substrate. The film does not oxidize and heat gain is minimal.”
A laminated-color solution checks lots of boxes. It also offered JELD-WEN an important competitive advantage: We could be the first company to offer laminated-color vinyl products on a nationwide basis.
What About Florida?
Intriguing as it was, serious questions remained. How would this exterior paint replacement, christened FiniShield™, perform in the real world? “We pilot tested it for a year in our Venice, Fla., plant,” explains director of vinyl and aluminum products Cliff Birch. “We picked Florida because of the high temperature, humidity, and UV exposure. We wanted a tough test.”
Within just a few months, the verdict was clear: FiniShield was a winner. “Damage in shipment was down,” Birch says. “There was less warping from storage in shrink-wrap due to heat. We had fewer complaints about coating consistency. Our inventory was standing up better to handling. FiniShield showed improvement all the way around.”
Boiling & Baking
Meanwhile, our research and development team put FiniShield™ through a gauntlet of torture tests that still make Jones and his colleague, Jason Dassel, associate technical manager, wince. “The laminate was subjected to an hour in boiling water and baked for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. We had to be certain the film would stay on the substrate. We had no adhesion loss,” Dassel says.
For Birch, FiniShield aced every test. Take punch list detailing. The expected ding and scratch touch-up painting usually required for vinyl windows all but disappeared. “Builders love FiniShield,” Birch observes.
Just the Beginning
For now, FiniShield™ is available across all vinyl windows and patio doors in two colors, black and bronze. A new class of statement colors is waiting in the wings, Birch says.
“We’re looking at other things too, with texture,” Birch says. “FiniShield opens up lots of design avenues for us. There’s so much more this film can do.”