Do you really want to make them angry? Ok, so call it “false teak”. Erika Tramarin and Mirco Gazzato (in the picture above, at the last Genoa International Boat Show) are very proud of their “plastic”. They are a couple of modern boat-builders who work a synthetic teak able to fool anyone: the difference with the natural one is extremely subtle. Their Refit Style’s stand at Genoa Boat Show was one of the most appreciated, crowded by many curious who touched, inspected and handled this wonderful material called Permateek. Word went out and, you know: touching is believing.
It’s PVC, a particular mixture very far from the sensation of salse and artificial. It’s a real synthetic high-quality teak. We met Mirco Gazzato to know their story. They started their collaboration with Permateek (of which they are exclusive importers in Italy) five years ago but they are pioneers in terms of synthetic decking.
“We were born first as a manufacturing of installers who worked fiberglass: changes on existing boats, improvements. We worked in collaboration with some carpenters who finished the decking. But after a long series of late deliveries and finishing problems, we decided, twenty years ago, to work alone and adopt synthetic teak“.
It was the “prehistory” for this material in Italy “Absolutely yes, we were the first to test the first synthetic teak never received by our company. It was very different from Permateek and modern materials. I don’t deny that we had lots of problems. No one really knew this material and our suppliers said: here you are the material and the glue, so try and see them. It was all an experiment”.
How long did this period of uncertainty last? ” Things started to change about ten years ago, when we had more knowledge and less experimentation. Teak was originally synthetic and it was sold as a DIY product, even on line. Users bought and tried it. There was a long time when I spent more time to correct failing installations than to create some new ones”.
When did the turning point occur? “Five years ago, I saw Permateek at Mets in Amsterdam and I immediately understood it was the right solution to step forward and aim at high-quality materials and installations. It was the best way to exit from the DIY world. We wanted to be different from the others”.
What’s the real peculiarity of Permateek? “First of all, the creation of decking entirely happens through the welding of panels, no junction is glued. Welding has completely revolutionised synthetic teak working”
Can you explain it better? ” It’s PVC, welding assemblies the panels together in order to create a single stable decking through hot melt. We weld at 600-700 degrees, it’s a very resistant PVC which doesn’t melt or drip. It’s a revolutionary material“.
How does the bond with the boat happen? “ It depends on supports: fiberglass, wood, aluminium or steel. We use different glues according to the material. And, in their turns, glues change according to temperatures or other variables. They’re ready-to-use monocomponent glues. We developed a great knowledge in this world and now we are able to understand what’s the best on each boat”.
Can Permateek be installed directly on teak? ” This is a frequent question and some competitors agree to do that. I never do it for two reasons: first of all, there isn’t a glue which can really ensure the result: teak is a living material which constantly evolves, so it doesn’t allow a constant cohesion; on the other hand, I will never know what is under that teak. If, for example, teak hides moisture and I use Permateek, I’ll certainly have some problems in the future”.
Permateek has existed since 2005, so it’s rather young. How can you ensure its durability? “ As required by big yards, the material is first tested and stressed in some climatic chambers where temperature varies from -10° to +70°, in different conditions of humidity and under UV rays which simulate a 20-year ageing. Moreover, we never had any problems and this is the best durability test”
Ad what about wear? How fast does it wear out? “Practically never. The real problem of Permateek is its excessive hardness, which causes some problems to installers but translates into a great advantage for the final user”.
Is smoothing necessary? “Unlike teak, Permateek needs only a smoothing process in order to pass from the raw material to a finished product, necessary for the final installation. Smoothing varies according to the area of the boat where the material will be used”
What about colours? ” There’s a range of 12 stunning colours and three different caulking lines: grey, white or black. Colours can even be mixed together for a more realistic sense of movement”.
And what about prices? “As already said, we offer a high-quality service and we want to be clear. A finished turn-key work costs 500 euros at least. Yards and artisans who collaborate with us can benefit from a service which includes only the digital measurement, decking creation and assistance for the final installation and finishing” .
How long does warranty last? ” If we deal with the entire installation process, it lasts 5 years. 20 years as regards the product”.
Your relationship with Permateek is very strong, but you are, first of all, Refit Style, aren’t you?
” You’re perfectly true. We were born as Refit Style installers, then we became exclusive importers and dealers. We have considered the possibility to become Permateek Italia but we don’t want to lose our identity. We want to keep our name and politics while using Permateek material. Now, we’re looking for a network of partners in Italy but the problem is that we are looking for someone who share our high-quality and rare working standard”.
Article also available in: English