Decking Trends Bring Tailored Options

The hottest topics in decking are hidden fastening systems, flexibility to address individual needs and ultra-low maintenance. In the face of a questionable economy, more homeowners are vacationing in their own backyards so their deck must be a strong source of pride. Whether the area serves as a barbecue area, sundeck or alternate living room, the deck must be a personalized space that’s easy to maintain. Decking manufacturers are making certain their products create an impressive environment and also protect it.

Hidden deck fasteners are tiny items but their impact on decking is huge. The homeowner can’t see them, but they keep the deck secure and safe. And with recycled and recyclable materials, decking companies are taking great pains to protect the planet as well as the customer.

“Many composite decking manufacturers are selling grooved deck boards and hidden fasteners,” says Jim Mailey, training manager, Northeast /Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region for Simpson Strong-Tie. “Although hidden fasteners provide a nice and clean deck surface, you want to make sure they provide adequate lateral and uplift resistance.”

Simpson Strong-Tie’s EB-TY hidden deck fastener is a polypropylene biscuit fastener that fits into a slot the builder cuts into the edge of the deck board with a standard biscuit joiner. The EB-TY fasteners are inserted and fastened with a screw driven into the joist. Simpson Strong-Tie also offers DTT2Z deck tension ties to attach wood deck-railing posts to the deck framing. The post is actually tied back into the deck joists, rather than to the rim joist alone. These ties comply with new codes regarding guardrail post connections for decks. The DTT2Z also complies with the new standards for reinforcing the connection of the deck to the house. The product is load rated as a hold-down for light-duty shearwalls and braced-panel applications.

“We have been working with various deck builders and remodelers about how to increase business by focusing on deck safety,” says Mailey. “Like a house, or any other building, a deck must be designed to support the weight of people and objects placed on them, as well as lateral and uplift loads that can act on the deck as a result of wind or seismic activity. The code requires all structures [including decks] to be maintained in a safe condition.”

Tiger Claw’s hidden deck fastener installation gun is a semiautomatic tool designed to reduce installation time of the company’s groove fasteners. The fastener installation gun drives a UFO ballistic nail screw in like a nail and removes it like a screw. The gun promises perfect positioning of fastener and screw installation when the trigger is pulled. The installation gun can be used with Tiger Claw’s TC-G hidden deck fastener for pregrooved boards.

“Homeowners want beautiful decking they are proud of to entertain family and friends,” says Chris Beyer, vice president of marketing for Fiber Composites. “Decking with hidden fastener systems offers a nice, smooth look and feel of the indoors outside without screw heads showing on top of the deck boards.”

Fiberon offers the Deck Pilot hidden fastening system on its Sensibuilt decking, which is created with the company’s Lumenite technology for resistance to stain, scratch, fade and mold. The product is backed by a 10-year fade-resistant warranty. Sensibuilt features a class A fire rating for flame spread, is 100 percent recyclable and consists of recycled PVC. Available in mocha, driftwood, redwood and cedar colors, the decking no requires painting, staining or power washing.

Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT) offers the Juniper Collection on its MoistureShield decking line. This line of composite decking is composed of organic heartwood cedar fibers from either Juniper Mexicana or Texas cedar. AERT utilizes discarded cedar and blends it with recycled polyethylene plastic to make this composite decking product. Made with 90 percent pre- and post-consumer recycled content, the water-resistant Juniper collection is manufactured using AERT’s plastic encapsulation process that shields and protects the wood fiber from moisture and insect damage.

“We’ve chosen to increase the amount of recycled content in our products [about 80 percent] and the co-extrusion process we use to manufacture our CorrectDeck CX decking provides both high performance and sustainability,” says Patti Pellock, CertainTeed Corporation senior marketing manager.

Wolmanized L³ Outdoor wood is treated with a nonmetallic, carbon-based solution so the biocides used in the preservative will degrade in soil; they are not bioaccumulative. The product’s preservative formulation has earned it a listing as a GreenSpec environmentally preferable product. The wood can be painted or stained without discoloration from the preservative, and has no more effect on woodworking tools than untreated wood.

PureWood, from Bay Tree Technologies, thermally modified wood decking is real wood that is treated and enhanced for better performance. The product undergoes a heat-based, nontoxic treatment process that is 100 percent free of added chemicals and metals so there are no health, disposal or environmental issues. The product features a factory-applied sealant so it resists rot and decay and can be sanded or stained. PureWood decking is supported by a 25-year transferable warranty.

Practical Needs Trump Frivolous Dreams

The summer road trip is out. Thanks to a tanking economy, consumers are finding more enjoyment in their own backyard than a distant destination. While some are cutting back on remodel jobs, others are rethinking the possibilities of improving their living area and increasing their property’s value.

“I think it certainly has had an impact; however, some homeowners have chosen to improve their outdoor living environment instead of taking that expensive family vacation this year,” says Mike Decoteaux, marketing manager for Correct Building Products.

“The rising cost of living is a driving force behind a stay-at-home mentality,” says Chris Beyer. “As more people are making their homes a destination, they are updating outdoor living areas. The less upkeep required to enjoy their outdoor oasis, the better.

“Decking is more in the repair and remodel market and more affected by equity lines,” adds Beyer. “Homeowners who are investing in their homes are remodeling and adding decks to enhance the value and enjoyment of their homes and outdoor living space.”

“One of the top trends in decking right now is customization,” says Adam Zambanini, Trex senior product manager of decking. “Decks are now like another room of the house — people want to customize their outdoor living space to meet their unique needs. Railing design is an extremely important decision for homeowners because it truly serves as the crowning touch of their outdoor living space.”

In response to customer demand for customizable railing, Trex created the Artisan Series railings that offer the look of painted wood and match traditional architecture. Artisan railings are made from the company’s Fibrex material to eliminate issues like vibrations, squeaking and rattling. Fibrex also offers minimal thermal expansion. Trex has re-engineered the entire collection of Artisan railings for design flexibility to allow customers to select railings ranging from the basic to complex custom designs.

The Sheerline 4500 Series vinyl railing by LB Plastics features a 2-in. turned Colonial spindle and 4 1/2-in. wide ribbed top rail. The top rail of the 4500 Series features detailed shadow lines and depth and several picket styles are available. Picket options include 1.5-in. square picket, 2-in. colonial picket, 1.5-in diamond picket, and a 1.75-in. fluted picket. The 4500 Series railing is available in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-ft. sections that can be tailored on-site to fit the application.

Beautifully Low Maintenance

And who wants to work hard in their downtime? Ultra-low maintenance boards, planks and railing systems retain their appeal for a long time and only require an occasional washing.

“The biggest trend in decking in recent years is, of course, low-maintenance alternatives to wood, with stain-resistance as well as resistance to scratching and splitting,” says Ralph Bruno, president of AZEK Building Products.

“This is even more central to the deck’s features with the popularity of the outdoor kitchen, where food and drinks can be a problem. That created awareness that composite deck products have not kept the promise of low maintenance, especially in regard to staining and scratching.”

AZEK decking is made of cellular PVC using the company’s Procell Technology. AZEK’s cellular PVC formulation doesn’t contain wood fibers that might promote mold and mildew growth. The product resists common stains and does not scratch. AZEK decking is available in brownstone, clay, ivory, slate gray and white. The company also offers its Reserve line of railings, available with an optional hidden fastening system.

“There is little time these days for upkeep; however, homeowners do not wish to sacrifice style and performance,” adds Bruno.

“The top trend in decking appears to be cellular PVC decking,” says CertainTeed’s Patti Pellock. “These products feature wood grain textured surfaces and low-maintenance benefits. Darker colors in the cellular PVC decking are now just starting to roll out.”

CertainTeed EverNew has introduced a new vinyl railing system called Edgewood. With a painted brushstroke texture called Select Cedar, Edgewood promises the look of painted and stained wood without the maintenance. The vinyl railing system is available in three colors: white, almond and Sierra Blend — a cedar color with variegated streaking. The system’s precision-fit components do not require predrilling for installation. The product’s brackets come complete with corrosion-resistant stainless steel screws, which are concealed by trim covers.

Latitudes from Universal Forest Products has added the Capricorn line to its composite decking offerings. Latitudes Capricorn features two tropical colors, adobe and koa, on wood grain patterned boards resembling the exotic hardwoods mahogany and ipe. Capricorn decking is produced with Strandex technology for extruded wood-plastic composite profiles. The decking is available in 12-, 16- and 20-ft. lengths, in slotted and standard planks. The slotted planks feature the Equator hidden fastener.

“Customers are demanding better performance from decking and railing products and as a result a new segment of ultra-low maintenance products has evolved,” says Mike Decoteaux, marketing manager for Correct Building Products.

“The first generation composites, and some lower end products still sold today, failed to measure up to customer expectations relative to performance and maintenance,” says Decoteaux. “In 2005, we introduced our CorrectDeck CX product after soliciting consumer feedback via a series of focus groups held across the country. We heard loud and clear that consumers disliked the fact that composite decking faded and was susceptible to staining, mold and mildew.”

CorrectDeck’s RapidRail composite railing system comes in either standard CorrectDeck or CorrectDeck CX with Microban. The system includes 4x4 newel posts, extruded handrails and balusters. RapidRail is offered in six colors to match or contrast with the company’s decking and features a low-luster finish for the look of wood. CorrectDeck also offers DCL railing — a lineal system of posts and handrails that can be custom fitted with metal or glass balusters for increased design options. The DCL railing is available in CorrectDeck and CorrectDeck CX.

Today’s decking trends address consumer pride in the home and the environment. Whether the product benefit is obvious or unseen to the naked eye, manufacturers take just as much pride as the homeowner.

Use the E-Inquiry for more information on the following suppliers:

  • Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies #44
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  • Bay Tree Technologies #47
  • CertainTeed #48
  • Correct Building Products #49
  • Fiber Composites #50
  • Latitudes #51
  • LB Plastics #52
  • Simpson Strong-Tie #53
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  • Trex #55