Decking trends in 2012 is the in-depth feature article of the April 2012 issue of LBM Journal. Featuring industry insights and interviews with a number of leading decking manufacturers, this article provides an in-depth look at current and evolving trends in the world of decking and outdoor living. A summary of the article is provided below. You may also download the original LBM Journal2012 Decking Trends article to read it in its entirety.
Deck sales long have been associated with upgrading homes and replacing existing projects, and marketers indicate that project interest is growing as the economy improves.
“We’re definitely seeing a rebound in decking projects,” says Carter Welch, vice president of marketing for Mendocino Forest Products Co. in Windsor, Calif. “Our research shows that homeowners were delaying maintenance and new projects until the economy improved, and now those projects are starting up. Contractors and dealers are both seeing a fuller pipeline.”
According to one marketer, “Deck purchases all start with aesthetics.” To that end, decking manufacturers are upgrading and expanding their lines, especially adding new colors and multi-tone looks. Customers are looking to add more colors and style overall, such as patterns and designs in their decks.
Consumers are taking a closer look at how “performance” is actually defined and which companies support their products best. Contractors too are paying more attention to avoid callbacks or having to redo projects at their expense. According to one marketer, “Especially with PVC and composite products, the bar has been raised on what performance and low maintenance mean.” Meanwhile, wood products can tout their low-maintenance qualities. According to the California Redwood Associations’ Charlie Jourdain, “Redwood decks have a strong 25-year life cycle, and we consider that the life cycle for any deck before a homeowner looks to upgrade or replace it.”
Green Building Plays Role
Wood manufacturers see more interest in getting back to natural materials. According to Mendocino Forest Products’ Carter Welch, “Contractors definitely are getting more inquires on green decking products and how homeowners can create more green outdoor living space.”
Wood manufacturers also cite life-cycle studies completed for their products, which show the cradle-to-grave energy cost for wood being lower than for other materials. “There’s definitely a trend toward more natural and environmental-friendly products…” adds another marketer.
Hidden Fasteners Dominate
As homeowners look to make their decks more an extension of their homes, they also want a clean, smooth appearance. That has caused a dramatic rise in hidden-fastener systems. Accessory pieces such as exterior mouldings and fascia, are also gaining popularity.
With so much activity underway in an otherwise down economy, decking marketers are encouraged by what lies ahead. Many companies, such as Mendocino Forest Products, are exploring markets beyond their current distribution. Evolving technologies will also likely play a role in expanding features and uses for decking materials.