MoistureShield Pro capstock decking
High or Low Market

This differential in needs and budget has caused the market to split rather than become a flowing spectrum. “There are really two markets developing,” Gossen’s Raganyi says. “Some want low maintenance and a hardwood look and are willing to pay for those features, and others want lower-priced capped composites. The mid-range PVC is slow. It’s either high or low today.”

Genova’s Seeger agrees. “The market is splitting in two directions. Some customers want to see how inexpensive they can go without having to go to wood. There isn’t a lot of consideration for aesthetics in that segment. Other customers want beauty and low-maintenance products, and they don’t care about the cost. A larger part of the market is actually heading to the higher end.”

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The high end wants more from their deck than just a flat surface. “There’s more interest today in shade structures for decks,” Carter Welch, vice president of marketing, sales and business development for Mendocino Forest Products (MFP) & Humboldt Redwood Company, says. “It’s a continuation of the trend of expanding outdoor living.” The company is offering pergola components with plans as well as pergola kits. “We are gearing up to increase our penetration into that market and increase our share of shade structures in 2014.”

Mike Gerstenberger, a partner at TigerDeck, which manufactures deck products from Tigerwood, agrees that outdoor opportunities are expanding. “We’re seeing increased demand for wood products that can be used to create pergolas and other structures for outdoor living.”

As some homeowners build above, others build beneath, says Jon Bailey, vice president at Wahoo Decks, which makes aluminum deck products. “Expanding the outdoor living space is definitely still growing,” he says. “And people are interested in expanding their space overall, not just on the surface.”

Wahoo’s products reduce substructure framing while providing a watertight ceiling. “That opens the space underneath for full use, especially on elevated decks,” he explains. “It lets homeowners use 100% of their outdoor space, not just the top of the deck.”

Wahoo recently introduced a nonwatertight aluminum board, which has become popular with multifamily and commercial projects. “We’re quoting it a lot for rooftop applications,” Bailey says.

“We’re hearing a lot from multifamily developers that they want low-maintenance products. They cost more, but developers see the value. They don’t want to put in a lot of money that might not pay off for them, but they also don’t want callbacks due to issues with the decks.”

Enduris’ Wearne agrees. “We make a solid-gray board that goes to commercial and marine projects that is less expensive and cooler to the touch, which is important. Commercial projects, such as condominiums and boardwalks, want a board that doesn’t retain heat. Being termite-resistant also is a huge factor.”

But even as commercial developers look to save costs, they also look for durability, he notes. “The commercial market is definitely growing for us, and they are asking for capped cellular products, too.”

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