In this blog, we want to “expose” some of the story behind the specifications.
If you do the math on cost versus value, Kynar’s warranty seems to make it an obvious go-to for long-term value. For example, Baked Enamel can have up to a 5-year warranty, and Kynar is 10 years. Kynar costs roughly 40% more, but you receive 200% the longevity. This seems like an easy decision, but there is a catch.
Kynar is a softer paint than enamel. It is the willow that weathers storm after storm. But Kynar’s softness makes it susceptible to physical damage from bumps and scrapes. Over time, that leaves a lot of scratches and wear-and-tear on the canopy’s appearance.
As for the warranty, customers tend to forget all about it when they see the scratches, and retouch the canopy without cashing in on the warranty. And when they do try to cash in, they find a bunch of hoops that make it difficult to receive the maintenance for free.
That is why in canopied structures that reach all the way to the ground, we would likely advise using Baked Enamel.
Anodized Aluminum Has a Lot of Potential, But Beware Possible Maintenance Challenges
Anodized Aluminum is the result of a chemical process that leaves the product with a bronze, light brown, gold or black color. Because it is treated and not “finished,” they say that anodized is one of the hardest “finishes.”
But in our experience, it is actually one of the most delicate. Anodized aluminum can oxidize, leaving chalky residue. Most often, this happens over time, but just last month we sent back an order to our extruder because the structural members arrived already showing signs of oxidization!
We have also heard complaints that when the finish does need retouching, finding the right color of paint for a professional touch up can be difficult since anodized is not actual paint.
Baked Enamel Underpromises and Overdelivers
The warranty on baked enamel can range anywhere from 1-5 years. That is much shorter than Kynar (up to 20 years) and Anodized Aluminum – on paper. However, we have come back to our canopies six or seven years after installation and found the surface in great shape. Of the three choices, we like Baked Enamel’s dependability and strength.
The Bottom Line
When planning an aluminum canopy, you have three great options for the type of finish: Baked Enamel, Anodized Aluminum, and Kynar Paint. We tend to recommend baked enamel for its integrity and follow-through.
Recommending baked enamel does not help us in the short run because the finish is the least expensive option of the three. But we also know that we will have happier customers in the long run, and better feedback on aluminum canopies. Read our web page on aluminum finishes for more information on Kynar Paint, Anodized Aluminum, and Baked Enamel, as well as a concise, bulleted list of pros and cons.