LBM Journal ran its first decking In Depth in April of 2004. In that issue, my predecessors shared news about the latest products in what was then a small category for many dealers. By 2012, the April decking In Depth article included mention of decking accessories as well. Railing was first emphasized in 2013. The following year, the annual deck issue included fasteners specific to deck production in a separate In Depth feature. In 2015, the deck issue was expanded to include three individual In Depth features: one each on decking, railing and accessories, and fasteners.
Clearly, there has been growth in what is now referred to as the outdoor living category. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way homes are used—and therefore built and remodeled—dealers were starting to carry everything from LED stair lights to grills and more, as decks and patios evolved into outdoor kitchens and entertainment hubs.
As you’ll see in the pages of this issue, the pandemic surge that the outdoor living category experienced over the past two years isn’t slowing down just yet. As our ace feature writer Mike Berger points out in the decking In Depth beginning on page 58, the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, produced by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, forecasts another 9% growth in spending by the end of this year. With housing starts still chugging upward, our readers in every market are busy ordering and stocking materials for what is shaping up to be a busy summer building season.
Our In Depth features are valuable to our readers only to the extent that we’re able to include information and insights from manufacturers that participate. I think you’ll find that this issue is especially strong on that front. By my count, representatives from 32 different companies answered questions and/or sent along product descriptions and photos so that Mike Berger could distill for our readers the latest trends in both style and manufacturing that are shaping the outdoor living category. I think you’ll appreciate the many frank discussions that went beyond product attributes and addressed issues such as materials shortages and supply chain woes. Our In Depth articles are designed to connect lumber and building material dealers with the inside thought processes of the companies that supply the products they sell. I think the In Depths in this issue do that exceptionally well, and I hope you’ll agree.
Our mission with these articles, and with everything we do, is to help you build your sales, your business, and your brand. If there is another topic or product category for which you’d like an In Depth view, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
— James Anderson