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Power Ventilation is a new concept in the installation of Underdeck Ceilings.

The Underdeck industry has largely ignored the need for ventilation. Our experience has been that when we access the space between an under deck ceiling and the deck above we find the area is still damp even days after a heavy rain, even though the underdeck is properly installed and there is no standing water.

If still, humid conditions prevail in the space above an underdeck the situation is ideal for the development of mold and potential rot. The use of hardwood deck surfaces above an underdeck require special attention to ventilation to ensure that the boards do not swell from being waterlogged. Finally our experience with power ventilation has shown to reduce the need for maintenance cleanouts. We will expand on each of these points below.

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Do Underdeck Ceilings Require Maintenance?

The short answer is that very little  in this world is maintenance free. You may hear from a salesperson that a particular underdeck installation does not need maintenance. You will never hear that from us. In fact we recommend that in  the first 3 years after an installation that an inspection be done to check for accumulation of debris, and that any found be removed. The design of our panels allows any individual panel to be removed without disturbing adjacent panels, so inspection is a simple matter, well within the capabilities of a handy homeowner.

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How to Make a Wise Underdeck Purchase

Part 1

The most obvious feature of an underdeck ceiling is the array of panels that make up the waterproof ceiling you see.

The panels are commonly made from these materials:

Vinyl: it is lightweight. The color choices are limited and it is fragile compared to other materials. It tends to become brittle with exposure to the elements.  Removal and replacement of the panels for maintenance may cause the panels to be damaged.

Steel: It is strong, but relatively heavy. In underdeck applications it is coated with a  layer of zinc during manufacture to protect it from rust. Cut surfaces are subject to rusting if they are not re coated. Steel is also coated with an aluminum/zinc alloy. It also provides good protection from rust on uncut surfaces. This is sold under the brand name, Galvalume. It is sometimes presented inaccurately as an an aluminum product. Color choices for coated steel are also limited.  

Aluminum is the most useful material in the underdeck industry. It is lightweight, strong and rustproof. All of Magnolia Nationwide Underdecks are made of aluminum. It is available in the widest variety of colors. We offer 28 colors.

Our effort in future posts to our blog is to provide the most detailed information needed to make a wise underdeck purchase. We are directing this information to construction professionals looking to add underdeck ceiling installation to the list of services offered to their clients. 

We also hope to give homeowners a solid base of knowledge for selecting an underdeck ceiling system to install as a satisfying DIY project, or be more knowledgeable if looking to have it installed.

This list of common underdeck materials is a start on our effort to make you a more informed customer.

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What are the Circumstances That Will Cause An Aluminum Underdeck to Deteriorate?

Upon exposure to air, bare aluminum develops a thin layer of oxide that forms a patina that protects the metal from further corrosion.  The patina provides good protection against atmospheric gasses and moisture.

The patina cannot protect aluminum from corrosion if it is exposed to acids, alkalis and salts. For the underdeck owner these chemicals are most commonly associated with decaying vegetable materials; leaves and twigs. Galvalume or galvanized steel products are not protected from this kind of corrosion, and the cut ends are subject to simple rust. Vinyl products will become brittle over time.

This is a big reason to consider ease of cleanout and other maintenance tasks when shopping for an underdeck. Whatever material is used, the prudent homeowner will take an occasional  peek at the topside of the underdeck (every couple of years or so) to ensure there is no buildup of accumulated trash on the panels. Magnolia pioneered a system that allows a single panel to be removed for inspection.

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What Happens When Trash Accumulates on an Underdeck Ceiling?

Any underdeck ceiling runs the risk of accumulated trash over the course of its life. Leaves and twigs will fall through the spaces between the deck boards during a rain. A well designed system will direct this debris to the gutter, to the downspout and away.

What makes a well designed system? 

The panels and gutter have no obstructions to the flow of water. There are no components that sit across the flow of water to trap debris. When this happens the trash will accumulate behind the trapped debris and the situation will gradually worsen.

The pitch of the panels and gutter is consistent and even throughout the system. There are no low spots for water to pool. When drainage is complete and even the debris left in the panels will dry out and float away in the next rainfall.

 A pool of water left in the panels will cause debris to stay wet, making it less likely to float to the gutter. Again it will slowly accumulate. The pool will enlarge over subsequent rains. The drainage of your underdeck ceiling will gradually worsen.

We are describing a situation that generally takes a couple of years to develop, but eventually the moisture and leaves will have built a perfect haven for mosquitos and mold to develop. Over a longer time, the weight will increase on the underdeck. This will worsen the development of low spots, and the process will continue. Perhaps it will worsen until part or all of the system falls.

No underdeck drainage system is immune from trash falling on the ceiling. Magnolia is the first to recognize this problem and to incorporate ways to deal with it in its design. Our individually removable panels allow for simple inspections and maintenance. Our panel latches are adjustable to allow for low spots to be removed. These may develop if the deck above begins to sag slightly.

If you are expecting a ceiling under your deck to last as long as your deck, please be sure that it designed so that you can care for it.

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Beaded Panels

2 Bead Lines4 Bead Lines

Two Bead Lines create three even sections at 3 1/2 inches apiece

Four bead Lines create five even sections at 2 1/8 inches apiece

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The Magnolia Overflow/Screen Box

The Overflow box is an original innovation of Magnolia’s that serves two purposes. It was first conceived as a method of moving the downspout outside the perimeter of the underdeck so that a screen could be installed to protect the area inside the coverage of the underdeck.

Later we adapted the Screen box to an Overflow box. This was to accomodate our customers who wished to direct the downspout from the underdeck to empty into an underground drain. 

Often the underground drains will become clogged due to the use of improperly installed corrugated pipe. Water will then back up the downspout and onto the underdeck. 

The trap door on the end of the overflow will open before the gutters fill and release the excess water onto the ground before it reaches the topside of the underdeckalt

Here is an example of rainwater flowing out of the joints in a downspout due to a clogged underground drain.


This is a typical installation of the overflow box. Note that the downspout placement would not interfere with the installation of a screen.

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