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Technical Tip

FIBERGLASS ROLLERS - by Ray Gorcynski

Whether you call them magic wands, or miracle tools, you’ll find that Fiberglass Rollers are “must have” tools when working with the All Deck Coating System. A completed All Deck application is only 1/16 inch thick. The condition of the substrate, as well as the fiberglass mat is critical to the success of any application. Using a fiberglass roller helps work the Laminating Resin into, and through the fiberglass mat. This encapsulates the individual strands of glass with resin, as the material soaks into and bonds with the surface below. The rollers make every project look better because they soften the fibers, providing greater conformity to the substrate.

Fiberglass rollers have steel frames, similar to paint rollers, but smaller. The actual rollers have uniform ribs of aluminum curling around the aluminum core giving them the appearance of pizza cutters strung together. The fiberglass rollers are essential for applying fiberglass mat. The rollers are used when working on flat areas. They come in several sizes to meet your varying needs. Standard widths of the rollers are 3 inches, 6 inches, and 8 inches. All the rollers are 1 inch in diameter. There’s a threaded metal opening in the end of the wooden handle for inserting an extension pole. Placing a hose clamp on the roller handle where it joins the extension pole provides added support and helps prevent the handle from splitting. It’s a very convenient addition when working with the larger size rollers on big decks.

The first roller you should add to your tool box is the 1” x 3” roller. It’s the most practical, all around tool. It’s great for those tight corners and curved areas like coves, bullnoses, and stairways. The bigger sizes are best used with the extension handle on larger areas, especially if the surface is rough, or irregular, as with broom finished concrete.

The purpose of the fiberglass roller is to eliminate wrinkles, bubbles, and imperfections in the wet fiberglass mat. The rollers are used during the laminating process, to smooth out, and blend in the wrinkles, so the fiberglass mat lies perfectly flat. When confronted with stubborn wrinkles, use the bent elbow of the fiberglass roller frame to score the wrinkle. Rub the elbow joint up and down the length of the wrinkle. Next, work the wrinkle down with the roller itself, until the wrinkle disappears.

If a wrinkle in the fiberglass mat sits up very high the mat may fold back over itself when it is flattened down with the fiberglass roller. The folded over piece of fiberglass mat will be thicker than the rest of the fiberglassed area. The thick hump that is formed in the fiberglass mat will look like a scar. After the Laminating Resin has dried the hump should be scraped down, sanded, and/or feathered out with All Deck Patching Compound.

The best way to extend the life of a fiberglass roller is to keep it clean. You can keep a roller clean by soaking it in a bucket of clean water immediately after using it. To remind yourself, keep the bucket near you on the jobsite and put the roller in the water each time you use it. The water keeps the Laminating Resin from drying or caking on the roller or jamming the roller mechanism. If material dries on the fiberglass roller it can be cleaned off later by soaking the roller in lacquer thinner or acetone. After soaking, use a wire brush to remove the softened material. Working with clean tools saves time and reduces costs of both labor and materials.

The flatter the fiberglass mat is, the better the fiberglass mat will bond to the substrate. The better the bond, the longer the application lasts, and the more waterproof it is. Proper adhesion improves the appearance of the finished All Deck application, as well. The better the application looks, the happier your customers will be, and the more referrals you’ll get. It’s simply smart business to use professional equipment to get a professional looking application. Never take shortcuts on the job or use inferior equipment, because eventually it comes back to haunt you.

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