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What to consider when buying vinyl

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Experts suggest buyers check multiple properties of vinyl products, whether coated or laminated:

  • Fire retardance
  • UV protection
  • Mildew resistance
  • A low-wick scrim
  • Product consistency from one production run to the next
  • Color availability
  • Warranties

Additionally, Jeff Sparks of Herculite Inc. advocates wider-width fabrics, which require fewer seams, resulting in better aesthetics and fewer failure points.

Steve Frederickson of Ferrari Textiles notes that all Ferrari products are precontraint textiles (coated to equal tension in warp and weft). “That stability is a key point when you’re pulling tent skins in and out,” he says.

Troy Burns of ABC Industries advises buyers to look for consistency in color—even white. “If you look at a finished white product, you may not see a difference when it’s laying side by side on a table,” he says. “Placing it on a light box or even up against a bright window to create a backlit situation, you might see what we call ‘waterfall’: faint lines or patterns that look like mountain ridges running through the fabric.” Additionally, tent fabrics should be backlit to ensure the consistency of light transmission, which can vary greatly without strict quality control. Burns also recommends verifying the weight of the fabric. He recalls an occasion when a fabric purported to be 19-ounce product was, in fact, about 14 ounces.

Sherry Webb of BondCote offers a recommendation that applies to any fabric-purchasing situation: “People should consider what their end use is and what type of durability is required.” Oftentimes, she notes, buyers want the least expensive product, but that may not give them the durability they—or their customers—desire.

Sue Hegarty is a freelance writer and editor based in Saint Paul, Minn.

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