Capped Composites Dominate
The focus on low maintenance has shifted attention to capped-composite boards, diminishing the popularity of uncapped composites. “We are seeing the continued growth of capstock products,” says Brent Gwatney, senior vice president of sales and marketing for MoistureShield decking from A.E.R.T. “Manufacturers are forcing the issue in an effort to get out of the uncapped business. We see it as a growing trend.” MoistureShield has introduced a new capstock product in three colors. “Our goal is not to eliminate our composite products but to offer a new option. Capstock products and composite products have different benefits.”
Trex, on the other hand, has eliminated uncapped products from its line, Zambanini says. “We have a high-performanceonly decking portfolio available, all with a 25-year fade and stain warranty.” Adds Gossen’s Raganyi, “Capped composites are really taking off huge and replacing composite products. Most people don’t want organic composites any more.”
There is a definite transition from composites to capped cellular PVC boards, agrees Enduris’ Wearne. “It’s becoming more evident every day. There were performance issues with some products, and builders want deck boards that ensure no callbacks. Many contractors are very specific about asking for capped cellular PVC boards now.”
Other options, from Wahoo’s aluminum boards to Nyloboard’s use of recycled carpet fibers for its boards, are gaining attention. “We get a lot of interest and curiosity from builders and homeowners,” Nyloboard’s Jacks says. “They like the look and the feel of the product. It doesn’t have a plastic look.”
Wood products have the advantage with aesthetics, and some customers are moving to cedar, redwood and hardwoods that provide durability and natural materials. “Redwood products are growing in use,” MFP & Humboldt Redwood’s Welch says. “There is renewed interest in wood in general and redwood in particular.” Redwood’s market share grew by 10% in 2013, he says. The company’s reports indicate sales in California grew 15% in 2013, and by 40% outside of California.
“That’s impressive growth.” Cedar, too, is growing, says WRCLA’s Mackie, due to its national base and its stability.
Treating companies are using higherend wood grades and adding touches such as re-planing the surface, rounding the edges and creating saw kerfs on the bottom to relieve stress, Arch Wood Protection’s Hammond says. “One highend deck builder we work with cambers the wood and uses shiplap and saw kerfs,” he reports. They also air-dry the wood after treatment to 19% ambient moisture content.
A key reason wood products are growing, Welch says, is because younger people in particular want “authentic” materials.
“Authenticity is an important hot button for Millennials,” he says. “They have little patience for things that are fake. They are looking for consistency over time. Redwood plays to that by being authentic and consistently offering the same product. Plastic decking keeps coming out with new products, compositions and colors. There’s a constant flux, which is dramatically different from wood products.”