"Why is the Vinyl fence available at the Big Box store so much cheaper than McNiel’s Vinyl Fencing?
That is the question that haunts consumers that lack understanding about vinyl. You get what you pay for. Resin prices are set at commodity levels (supply and demand strictly dictate pricing). Additives are similar in pricing. Competition is dramatic, with over 20 extruders in North America vying for the same market. In order to capture market share some manufacturers decide to make an “economy” product, either by making a thinner product, which may not conform to industry standards or building codes, or by using recycled materials which change the dynamics of the product itself or they may fabricate the product using inexpensive, high-volume and inferior methods, such as gluing the pickets on to the rails, or using brackets to attach the rails to the posts. Or they may use all or a combination of the above.
The most apparent differences in product quality are:
Ø Striation lines along the face of the profiles (like drag lines all along the length).
Ø Low gloss (possibly indicating inferior additives in the capstock).
Ø Corner Radius measurements may show inequalities from one side or face of the profile to the other, or from one profile to another, indicating low Quality Control procedures.
Ø Gray back (dark gray or brown inside usually indicates a high content of recycled materials used inside)
Ø Thin Cap Stock (the capstock thickness may be so thin, that it looks like it was painted on, or is very irregular, in some places nearly disappearing - this indicates non-compliance to ASTM requirements).
Ø Fastening Methods of the profiles to each other is by quick and easy methods, which, in of themselves are weaker, but become even weaker due to high volume production and inferior Quality Control.
Other differences may come to the fore over time.
Ø Titanium Dioxide (the UV inhibitor) levels may be significantly lowered, resulting in a degradation of the product under UV exposure (yellowing, cracking, low impact resistance).
Ø Impact modifiers may be of inferior quality, or have a lowered level, resulting in low impact cracking and sharding.
Ø Usually these lowered standards result in a greatly reduced Warranty coverage and period.
All of the above information is designed to make the consumer aware of the differences. As in every industry, it must be emphasized; you get what you pay for in the end. There certainly are niche markets for all types of products, due to economic or logistical considerations. And this is not to say that a consumer will not get a premium brand product at a Big Box store. Several regional branches have decided to supplement their Do-It-Yourself business with a Furnish-And-Install Program, which uses higher quality products through our network of Fabricator/Installers.