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PVC or high density polyurethane (HDU) – what’s the difference?
PVC products start out as a sheet of material. We stock various thicknesses to accommodate the hundreds of different items that we offer. PVC, when used with the right equipment and skills, is very versatile. It can be heated and formed to different shapes. It can be laminated to different thicknesses. It can be cut, drilled, carved, and machined. We are among the leading experts in the USA at working with PVC. We have thousands of computer programs that we use for machining PVC into the products you desire. Machine cut patterns are scaleable. You found a style that you like but it is the wrong size? In PVC, it can be made to the size you desire. There are a few brands of PVC available. We choose Fypon PVC for our products. For more info, go to: http://www.fypon.com/pvc/whypvc/default.asp. When machined, PVC material will exhibit a slight cellular texture on the cut edge. This can be seen very close up, but is not noticeable from more than 3-4 feet away. PVC material is white throughout its thickness. The material is UV stabilized and is safe (recommended) for exterior use. It can be painted. Use a good quality acrylic latex paint. Special precautions are in order if you want to use a dark color (see special precautions). Fypon PVC is a closed cell material. It will not absorb moisture, which is generally what causes paint failure. Fypon PVC comes with a lifetime limited warranty (http://www.fypon.com/pvc/whypvc/pvcfeaturesbenefits.pdf).
For a comparison of Fypon PVC vs. other materials, go to: http://www.fypon.com/pvc/whypvc/comparisonchart.pdf.
Polyurethane products are made by casting a liquid resin in a mold. They can provide intricate detail on the surface of the product. Decorative and ornate corbels and ceiling medallions are examples of products that are only feasible by this method. Molds are quite expensive. To make products that look the same but are a different size requires making a whole new mold. This is only cost effective if you need dozens of pieces. Luckily, we already have thousands of molds available. We can provide most anything that you need. The molding process is inherently labor intensive and slow compared to an injection molding process. However, it provides a variety of sizes and detail that other methods are not capable of. Fypon provides a lifetime limited warranty on its polyurethane products: http://www.fypon.com/shared/helpcenter/081fyponwarranty.pdf.
So which material is best for me? That is where we can best help you. Since we offer you both options, it doesn’t matter to us which one you choose. Many people come to our website seeking Fypon(polyurethane) products. We offer a PVC alternative (using Fypon brand PVC) only when it represents a better value for you, our customer. Typically, if a PVC alternative is offered, it is better for that application and usually at a lower price. The general rule that I use is this: If I wanted the best product and the best value for my home, which would I use? I hope this information is helpful in your selection of products that are a permanent enhancement to your home.