It’s recommended that you repaint your house every 5-10 years depending on environmental conditions to keep the curb appeal top notch. A pool enclosure is no different. As we know, the type of paint used plays a large part in how long the finish will last. Unfortunately the industry standard finishing on pool enclosure members is a low grade epoxy paint. We’ve all seen the fading color, and common color change to green in certain areas after as they get into the 5+ year mark (our GCA Standard enclosure now come with a 2604 powder coat).
Frequently many homeowners consider a pool cage painting project as they are having their house repainted. It makes sense to get it all done at one time, and possibly the same team. What most homeowners find however is that the company hired to paint the house, can’t do the screen enclosure. This causes a pickle a need to hire a third party to address the pool cage.
We’ve painted hundreds of pool cages, and admittedly it’s not easy work. Don’t take this the wrong way — we would certainly love to paint your pool enclosure, and we’ve got the process down ‘pat’! While the work is difficult we are specialists in painting these structures.
Let’s take a look at why it is so difficult and many experienced painters decline the work.
It is exposed from all sides. Wind from North? Every member of the pool enclosure is going to catch catch it. Unlike a wall of the house, pool cage members are exposed to wind, sun, and the elements from all directions. On top of that, they are usually taller thant many of the surrounding structures. This means there is no break from the elements. Things need to be done, fast within a small window of time.
Pool Cages are 3-Dimensional. House walls are flat, while pool enclosure members have 4 sides. Special care has to be taken to achieve a full and even coverage on all sides. ‘Running’ of the paint occurs easier these 3 dimensional members as the paint in a liquid state makes its way to the edges, and then rounds to the other side.
Paint doesn’t easily bond to aluminum. Metal is one of the trickiest surfaces to paint as the metal doesn’t quickly bond to it. The delayed bonding makes it difficult to get a smooth finish without runs. In areas of peeling paint, or corrosion, which are commonly found near connection joints involving dissimilar metals, proper steps must be taking to get these areas into suitable condition for re-finishing.
It can’t be rolled on. If you want a high quality finish, free from visible streaks the paint applied to the screen enclosure can’t go on with a roller. The best application method is spray. With a roller, the painting can be done easily from the ground, or a distance. Using a spray applicator requires the painter to get up close to the pool enclosure using ladders, scaffolding and walkboards. It also requires a significant investment in spray application equipment can cost several thousands of dollars. For most painters who do concrete block structures, and interiors an investment into this equipment which they wouldn’t use frequently, just is not practical.
Open air can easily result in over spray. Since the paint molecules must travel through the air, over spray can become a problem. More attention than usual must be given to masking and covering the surrounding area’s to prevent making a mess and getting paint on other surfaces.
Screen Needs To Be Removed. To paint the pool cage, the screen mesh between each members, and the spline holding it place needs to be removed. Companies that exclusively do painting don’t have the experience do to the re-screening at the end and as trade contractors don’t operate their business model around outsourcing screen work.
Despite the challenges, of painting pool cages here in our area, we paint many of them (about 200 per year), and we love doing them. We’ve perfected the entire process of making them look like new, for about 1/2 the cost of replacing the entire pool cage structure. Ready to check out some good before & after pictures? I suggest checking out this blog post: Screen Enclosure Restoration: A First hand look
Just like tires, paint, and roofs, screen mesh has a life span. If your screen has a few tears in it, you might be wondering, if you should get a full re-screen or just replace the panels one by one. It is a fair consideration in an effort to maximize your value, as service calls for miscellaneous panels have a higher rate than a full re-screen. In other words, you get more screen for your dollar when you do a full re-screen.
To find a good solution, lets think about tires on your car. If your tire blows out due to an ‘event’, like running over glass on the road, you would probably just get the one tire fixed. On the other hand, if your tire blows out because it has 40,000 miles and is worn, you’re probably best replacing all of your tires. The same goes for screen on your enclosure. If you just have an ‘event’ that tears the screen, like getting cut with a weed whacker, you should probably just get the panel replaced. If the screen is tearing because it is worn out, you should probably go for the full re-screen. Like tires, screen has a life expectancy in Florida conditions, based on the type that it is.
Artisan (builders grade): 3-5 years. This is the material commonly used by commercial builders like Lennar, and GL homes.
New York Wire: 5-7 years.
Phifer: 7-9 years.
Polyester Screens (Ultra Screen & Super Screen): 15+ Years.
As the screen reaches these ages it gets extremely weak, and changes color. When the screen is new, the material is at its strongest, but as it ages in U/V rays it gets weaker. For example, new Phifer 18/14 will hold up to a power-washer. At 7 years old, a power-washer will shred the Phifer 18/14. Once it reaches its life expectancy, the coating wears away, the mesh changes color, and a gust of wind is enough to tear the mesh.
Take a look at the enclosure below. You’ll notice that the screen has a white shade — this 9 year old Phifer screen has reached its life expectancy.
You’ll notice tears at the edge. It looks like the screen has been pulled out of place and can simply be put back in… this is not the case. What happened is that the screen has worn out so much that even a little bit of wind, or slight expansion of the metal from heat tears the screen. This enclosure below has screen that has reached its life expectancy and torn at the edge, you now see it hanging down.
Over 5 years ago, we found that repainting, re-screening, and replacing the fasteners, can make an old, run down, poorly maintained screen enclosure look like new, and restore structural integrity, at a fraction of the cost of repainting. Since then the repainting has became one of of our most popular services, and still many people are surprised that we can do it. Here are 5 things you should know about it:
Many folks are surprised to know that we can repaint screen enclosures. Painting pool enclosures, is not the easiest — it’s not as simple as just putting a roller on a stick, dipped in paint, to the frame (that would leave unsightly streak). The structures are exposed to the elements, namely wind, rain and sun. With that the metal surface is naturally not the most conducive surfacing to bond. Over 5 years ago we perfected the practice of painting screen enclosures, and since then have painted several hundred pool cages, with over 200 repainted in 2016 alone. Repainting the enclosure is multi-step process that fixes discoloration and makes the finish look like new.
An enclosure restoration, which includes re-screen, repainting, and replacing all the fasteners usually costs 40-50% less than replacement of the enclosure on most standard size enclosures, and they look really damn good once completed (see this project here with close up photos). On extremely large enclosures the price difference is further increased with the restoration being much more economical. On small enclosures, the price difference between restoration and replacement might not be so large.
When it comes to the repainting process we must also replace the fasteners, we generally use a Nylo-tech fastener. The reason for this is 2 fold. First it restores strength of the enclosure. Enclosures are all engineered for the applicable wind capacity at the time they were built, assuming the original new strength of their components. Practically speaking, the most common steel fasteners used on enclosure lose over 50% of their strength in the first year. At this point the enclosure is no longer capable of withstanding the original wind capacity. Replacing the fasteners is the single most important thing you can do to get the wind capacity as close to the engineering standards as possible. It is also around 40% cheaper to replace the fasteners while we are doing the other work. Next, the fasteners must be replaced to ensure a long lasting paint finish. All steel based fasteners (even stainless) will rust in time and that will be further accelerated by dissimilar metal contact. If we paint over the fasteners, and rust builds underneath the paint, it creates problems with the finish. We use a Nylotech fastener, which has a nylon head to avoid the rust issue and give a finish that will stand the test of time.
On most enclosures, from the time screen goes out, until the paint and fasteners are done, and new screen goes back in it takes 2 weeks. As you know, the summer weather here in Southwest Florida is both rainy and windy, with frequent tropical thunderstorms. While these conditions make it difficult to paint, we still paint plenty of enclosure in the summer, however it takes a bit longer to get them done to our standards and as such the timeline may be extending. Also on large enclosures, the timeline will be extended. The largest screen enclosure repaint we ever did took 3 weeks to complete — for just the paint.
This a is question we get quite frequently. Our customers would like to know whether the upgraded polyester screen choices (Super Screen / Ultra Screen) are more resistant to high winds than our standard Phifer 18/14 screen (Phifer is stronger than many cheaper types of screen mesh). The answer is YES but not the kind of winds you are thinking of.
When Phifer is new it has a ball burst strength test rating of about 63lbs. The polyester screens are inherently stronger with a rating of 180 – 190 lbs. Those are lab test though. In reality, the 63lbs of Phifer is strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds for a sustained period of time – when the Phifer screen is new.
The difference comes over time. As Phifer screen ages, spending its life under U/V rayes, the fiberglass based fabric quickly beaks down and quickly loses its 63lbs rating. Although no aged testing has been done, I would estimate it loses 75% of its strength in the first 3 years. At this point hurricane force winds will tear it. Fortunately we don’t
have hurricanes that often. At about 7 years, the Phifer screen will have lost most of its strength and the charcoal coating has started wearing off leaving shiny white/gray the fiberglass stranded exposed. This is the time when wind from a regular south Florida afternoon storm can tear it. You will notice tears along the sides of the panels near the aluminum members. It almost looks like the screen has simply ‘pulled out’. What actually happened is that there was enough wind to tear the screen at the point where energy (pressure from the wind), can be transferred no farther.
The polyester screens, Ultra-screen and SuperScreen, are warrantied against tears like this for 10 years.
If you’ve ever seen a builders grade enclosure after a few years, you know what I’m talking about — the paint turns green, the screws rust, and the screen tears. They’re not a pretty sight and become an eyesore to an otherwise beautiful home. Our GCA Standard Enclosures, use materials to avoid these problems from the get go. Unfortunately 95% of enclosures were built with builders grade materials that won’t stand the test of time. Fortunately we’ve perfected the process of restoring screen enclosures for about half the cost of a new one. Restorations have became so popular that we not complete over 200 per year! Lets take a look at this pool cage restoration in Naples Florida!
First thing, before getting into the nitty-gritty, you need to know what a screen enclosure restoration consists of. It starts with removing all the screen, and upgrading the fasteners to Nylotech/Protech fasteners. We then thoroughly clean the cage, cover the area, and clean it for painting. All of the aluminum members are painted. After the paint cures, new screen is put in. Once complete it looks like new!
No secret! The aluminum members are turning green. The screws are rusty and have stained the white metal, red. The home owner called us to see about painting the enclosure. After the estimate, which was done conveniently online, the customer hired us to complete the project.
Take a look at the enclosure in the picture below of what it looked like before we started.
(put your mouse of the numbers on the pic for more details.
Take a look at the rest of the pictures to get a true understanding of just what kind of shape this pool enclosure is in. You can click on each picture for an enlarged view.
That this cage is a mess. Besides the fact that this enclosure is is looking decrepit, with so many screws rusted/corroded the cage is a mere fraction of its original strength.
While this cage may seem like its day is done, restoring pool enclosures like this are just another day at the office for Gulf Coast Aluminum. So lets get started.
The first thing we do is remove all the screens and and replace the fasteners. With new fasteners the enclosure is much stronger and will be able to support ladders and walk-boards used for completing the rest of the project. It will also eliminate the rust so we can warranty the paint. In the picture below you’ll notice the fasteners are bronze, as the owner has decided to switch to a bronze enclosure. The enclosure has also been thoroughly cleaned, before the painting occurs.
With the fasteners done, the next step would be to cover the whole deck with plastic and then paint the enclosure. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to grab any pics of this step. Once painted we wait a couple days for the paint to cure and then we come back out to re-screen.
Check out the pictures post completion. It really looks like a whole not screen enclosure from what you seen above!
Ready to have us do your enclosure? If you’re in our service area you can give us a call or get your estimate conveniently online!
Most people think of Gulf Coast Aluminum as a ‘pool cage builder’. That is true (kind of). We do build quite a few pool cages. In total though, pool cages are a very small amount of what we do overall. We tend to think of ourselves as more of a service provider. You’ll see why starting with our first service (in no particular order).
Have a screen out? We’ll fix it. Screen repairs from one to a few panels are our most popular service. Our service guys usually see around 20 people per day. We can get screen repairs done quickly, with scheduling usually no more than a week out.
Many of the pool cages that were built during the housing boom, used metal with a low grade epoxy paint, and cheap steel fasteners. 10 years later they look pretty… awful. The aluminum members have turned green, the lower rails have corroded, and the steel fasteners have rusted leaving red stains running down the structure. Our restoration process rescreens, upgrades the fasteners, and repaints the enclosure to have it looking like new, at about half the cost of a new screen enclosure (our new enclosures used a 2604 powdercoat and Nylotech fasteners for a much higher quality enclosure than builders grade).
Epoxy paint is turning green. Fasteners are rusted. Soon enough though, we will have this enclosure looking like new.
Screen rooms have a solid roof and are often referred to as a lanai or added on lanai. They’re popular because most home builders leave a lanai that is too small to be used (like 8′ x 8′), or worse, leave no lanai at all, only a slider door that opens to the back yard. Our screen rooms offer the ability easily add on an under roof lanai with screen which can be used as a sitting area, dining area, or entertaining area.
Finally we get to pool cages. We no longer offer builders grade enclosures, only our GCA Standard. Our GCA Standard uses long lasting materials, a 2604 powder coat, so that in the future you won’t need the restoration. You can read more about the: GCA Standard Pool Enclosure
The Romano uses wood grain finished aluminum to give the visual appeal of classic wood with the resilience of aluminum. A solid roof could be done for rain protection, or a pergola style roof for strictly shade. The Romano is one of our newest and most inquired on services, so we expect this to move higher up the list through 2017.
Sunrooms are one of the more complex and pricey structures we offer. Our sunrooms are done with seamless fabrication which means that custom pieces made to conceal all screws. They start around $10,000 for a small acrylic ‘fill-in’ (under existing roof) and have been priced as high as $200,000 for a large impact glass sunroom under air, with tiled roof (click on picture to the left).
One of our most popular services here at Gulf Coast Aluminum is the Screen Enclosure Restoration. In fact we usually complete 1 screen enclosure repaint per day (over 200 per year). It consists of re-screening, repainting, and replacing all the fasteners. This process which we have perfected, brings the enclosure to back to life with a finish that makes the whole enclosure look like new, for a about 1/2 the cost of a new enclosure. Surprising to most people is that the acrylic paint we use in the process is a higher quality than the epoxy paint that comes standard on most builders grade enclosures (our new enclosures come with a 2604 powder coat).
We’ve done them on small enclosures, about 20 x 40, on up to screen enclosures the size of a stadium. You can see one of the largest screen enclosures we’ve ever repainted here. Today though we are going to be looking at a more modest size screen enclosure restoration. This enclosure in Bonita Springs is roughly 20×40, a very common size. For this post, I don’t have high-res pics in chronological order, so I’m going to make do with the pics various pics in our project file.
Here we go. The first thing we do on the enclosure is strip the screen, and replace the fasteners. When we replace the fasteners, we use Nylotech fasteners, which come with a 10yr manufacturers warranty. This ensures no rust will build up under your new paint and bleed through. The fasteners used are also colored to match the new paint which will notice on the photo below.
Once that complete it was time for the paint! Unfortunately we didn’t get any pics of the paint work in progress. This homeowner chose to go to white paint to go with their lighter shade pavers. They chose a No-See-Um Screen mesh by Ultra Screen which carries a 10 year warranty. Take a look at the finished product. You’ll see the bright white enclosure, and notice that the view beyond the No See’um mesh isn’t really that diminished.