Developments in Decking

As the trend toward exterior living spaces serving as an extension of the interior continues, manufacturers offer up a host of products designed with designers in mind. Decorative railings, grain and color options, drainage systems and concealed fasteners are available to make the deck visually appealing and user-friendly.

Today, Americans are busier than ever before, so a deck that is virtually maintenance free is almost a necessity. Composite and PVC deckings are high quality products with the added benefits of being easy to clean and resistant to damage.

CorrectDeck CX ultra-low maintenance composite decking features Microban anti-microbial protection for added resistance to mold and mildew. The product’s co-extruded top layer encases the exposed wood fibers on the top and sides of each board for resistance to color fading and staining. CorrectDeck CX is available in colors including sand, coastal gray, pebble and sage.

“Like individual strands of a rope make the rope stronger, Strandex technology makes Latitudes Decking and Railing stronger,” says Chris Fox, marketing manager for Universal Forest Products. “Strandex technology offers superior protection against UV degradation and water absorption because every “strand” of wood fiber is encased in high-density polyethylene. Because Latitudes uses Strandex, you can be assured that you’re getting the highest quality composite product available.”
Fiberon Sanctuary Decking consists of a cellular PVC (or foamed PVC) core with no fiber fillers, which eliminates edge cracking, stain retention and water absorption. This core is surfaced with a layer of ASA (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate) so it resists fading, and abrasions. Added to this is a proprietary process that uses unique color tones from a blend of light and dark hues for the natural variations found in real wood.

SheerGrain by L. B. Plastics is created using the company’s proprietary SheerGrain Technology, a copolymer blend whose main ingredient is acrylic. The use of acrylic delivers fade-resistance and long-term weathering and heat dissipation.

SheerGrain Decking does not absorb moisture and does not promote mold growth. SheerGrain is naturally resistant to common stains such as grease, mustard and spilled drinks. SheerGrain is engineered for scratch resistance and the impact of everyday living.

According to Ralph Bruno, president of Azek Building Products, “Azek is resistant to staining and scratching and is much easier to install than composite. From an installer and a consumer basis, it’s the next generation of decking. This stain- and scratch-resistant decking is something that appealed to the marketplace.”

In 2007, AZEK added mouldings and decking with proprietary Procell Technology to the company’s product list. AZEK Building Products are available in over 2,000 lumberyards throughout the US and Canada.

A Deck with a View

“Fifteen years ago, people would think they were doing a wood railing so they had to do pickets,” says Andrew Penny, VP of marketing and advertising for Fenney Architectural Products. “Options like tempered glass and cables have been catching on lately as the word gets out. From the very beginning, we found the fact that you can see through it was what was driving it.”

For a clean, finished look that won’t impair views, Feeney offers CableRail cable assemblies as an alternative to metal or wood pickets. CableRail is made from weather-tough type 316 stainless steel and is available in three cable sizes (1/8-, 3/16- and 1/4-in. diameter). All assemblies are sold in standard, pre-cut lengths from 5 to 70 ft. (in 5 ft. increments) for easy ordering. Precise railing measurements are not needed as excess can be trimmed in the field. Each assembly includes a stainless steel Threaded Terminal fitting factory attached to one end of the cable and a field installed QuickConnect-SS fitting for the other end.

According to Patti Pellock, CertainTeed deck and railing marketing manager, “In 2008, CertainTeed is adding a new almond color to its EverNew vinyl decking product line. CertainTeed also offers a complete product line of EverNew railing systems which include vinyl reinforced with aluminum, PVC-capped composite and a new aluminum railing system. The new aluminum railing system, named Durham, features a unique beveled rail design and spring-pin construction and is available in boxed kits and pre-assembled sections.”

CertainTeed Kingston composite railings are available in white and clay for the classic look of a traditional wood railing system. Designed for flat and stair applications, the white Kingston railing system is available in 3- and 3 1/2-ft. height and 6, 8 and 10 ft. lengths. The aluminum-reinforced rails are routed to accept 1 1/2- by 1 1/2-in. balusters in Square and Traditional (3 ft. white only) styles. CertainTeed offers a choice of five different mounting brackets. The Kingston is suitable for decks, porches and balconies up to three stories in height on one- and two-family dwellings. The system is also backed by a lifetime limited warranty and the company’s five-year SureStart Protection.

LWO Corporation’s Woodway deckrail series is constructed of nominal 2- by 2-in. clear, kiln-dried Western Red Cedar, Mahogany or two-coat Primed. It is available in lengths to fit between posts measured on center at 4, 6 and 8 ft. and panels can easily be cut on the job site to fit any post spacing. Woodway also offers decorative glass post caps in Cobalt Blue, Amber, Olive Green or Black.

De-Kor Post caps sizes include Grande, Rondi and Little Rondi. The company applies the powder coat in the factory for ideal color matching. De-Kor Post caps are available in twenty powder coated colors and custom colors are also available.

Fastener Fascination

Hidden deck fasteners are the rage. They strong, long-lasting and rust-proof and they also create a smooth deck surface with no nail holes.

“Homeowners prefer hidden fasteners,” explains Fox. “Hidden fasteners help eliminate surface blemishes caused by traditional screw fasteners, and provide a smooth, barefoot-friendly deck surface. Reversible (woodgrain/brushed), slip resistant deck boards, unique colors, tropical looking composite decking and accessories like solar post caps are also highly desired.”

“The other important factor is its affect on installation,” adds Mike Descoteaux, marketing manger for Correct Building Products. “Our boards come pre-grooved. Our clip system is called “The Fastenator” and it has changed the industry dramatically. The expectations of the consumer are getting higher. People expect more performance and better aesthetics with hidden fasteners.”

Trex has created the Trex Hideaway hidden-fastener system of grooved boards and clips to provide for a smooth, finished surface. The Trex Hideaway system is currently available for the company’s Brasilia line of decking.

The new Deck Spacers by Simpson Strong-Tie are small plastic spacers that clip onto the joist to keep deck boards evenly spaced. They are ideal for composite decking because they help meet manufacturer warranty requirements. Deck Spacers are quick and easy to install and once in place, act as a shield for the top of the deck joist. The patented design helps keep debris and moisture away from the deck joists, reducing the chances of rot. DeckSpacers are also UV resistant and are available in 100 and 500 quantities in gray, brown and tan.

Additionally, the LUCZ from Simpson Strong-Tie is a concealed-flange joist hanger that connects wood joists to beams or the deck ledger to provide bearing and uplift resistance. The LUCZ’s design has cleaner lines for visible applications, such as second-story decks and patio covers. Unlike typical face-mount hangers, the LUCZ is narrower, allowing joists to be installed flush with the end of a deck ledger or header. The product is manufactured with a ZMAX finish to provide corrosion resistance.

Come in to the Outside

“In terms of design, we see a greater trend toward customization,” says Shellie Sellards, director of marketing for Trex Company. “More homeowners are requesting inlaid patterns and designs that can be created by mixing and matching different colors of decking. Homeowners also are taking advantage of the ability to design custom railing styles that reflect their own personal tastes.”

Trex has completely redesigned its Artisan series railing system. The Artisan series promises to be a very versatile, modular system that can be mixed and matched according to décors, designs and installations techniques. Trex Brasilia line of composite decking comes in three different exotic wood looks for the look of tropical hardwoods without depleting tropical forests. The Brasilia line includes the Trex Hideaway hidden fastener system that streamlines installation for a smooth finis without nail or staple indents.

“A general trend over the last couple years is people looking to expand their homes with decking, says Craig Sherrett, director of marketing for Fiberon. “It’s now become a living space with sophisticated appliances and furniture. In the past year or two a lot of companies have come out with exotic and realistic looking composite decking with multi-colored surfaces so you can have a sophisticated outdoor living space that looks like the floors inside.”

Maine Ornamental has introduced a series of three Tiffany-style Stained Glass Post Caps that feature a solar-powered light to add a glow to fences, decks and outdoor living areas. Each cap is mounted on a wood base of Pressure-Treated Pine, Cedar or Redwood. Two sizes are available for easy mounting over standard 4- by 4-in. or 6- by 6-in. posts and require no additional wiring or electricity. A top-mounted solar lens and two rechargeable AA batteries (included) power two long-lasting LED bulbs and the lights become fully charged after just one day in the sun. Maine Ornamental post cap products are available through a national network of dealers and distributors.

Sensibuilt decking is a patent-pending cellular PVC product, incorporating a unique surface technology that promises rich, stable, architectural colors. Sensibuilt features the industry’s first urethane acrylic surface. The product is backed by a limited lifetime warranty that includes an industry exclusive 10-year color retention warranty.

Underdeck drainage systems expand a deck’s functionality and eliminate wasted space. “You can use the area under the deck for storage or a second deck,” says Mike Descoteaux. “A system of funnels and troughs takes away any moisture so you can put a ceiling under the joists and turn the area below it into a usable outdoor space.”

The RainEscape deck drainage system is concealed under decking to provide the ability to finish the outdoor living environment. Water simply runs down the RainEscape troughs to the RainEscape downspouts and into a rain gutter to give you a space that is dry below your upper deck. The RainEscape system fits both 12 and 16 in. joist spacing and is easily modified to fit 24 in. joist spacing,

The Stacked Stone Collection of Postcovers from Deckorators comes in three color options: Canyon, Gray and Sedona. Each column is 42 in. tall and fits over standard 6- by 6-in. posts. The Deckorators Postcover is designed to create decorative accents for deck and fence posts and enhance a structural detail. The Deckorators Postcover carries a 25-year warranty against cracking, splitting or warping. The Postcovers secure directly to the post with shims and then tie into the deck’s rails using a special connector. The connectors are designed to accommodate a variety of rail or stair angles, including 90 degree, 22, 33 and 45 degree angles.

Green: The Color of Composite

Wood alternatives like composite offer the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. In today’s “green” environment, these products respond to government and consumer demands for sustainability.

“The LEED program for contractors and builders is very important,” says Descoteaux. “The struggle for manufactures is that there is no one agency that is monitoring.”

A.E.R.T. MoistureShield is a long-lasting, low-maintenance decking product made from a 50/50 blend of recycled plastics and wood fibers. MoistureShield is manufactured with a minimum of 30 percent post consumer recycled content and 60 percent post industrial (pre-consumer) recycled content. MoistureShield exceeds the requirements for landscape decking published in the LEED for Homes standard (v. 1.72). The company uses discarded Juniper, which was slated for burning, and blends it with recycled plastics such as milk jugs, plastic grocery sacks and detergent bottles.

Looking forward, decking appears to be a contractor’s market. “Repair and remodeling drives about 84 percent of the demand for decking, says Sherrett. “A lot of general contractors are beginning to specialize in decking. It’s those guys that are the brand specifiers.”

Use the reader service card for more information on the following suppliers:

  • AERT For more info, please indicate #9 in eInquiry form.
  • AZEK Building Products For more info, please indicate #10 in eInquiry form.
  • CertainTeed For more info, please indicate #11 in eInquiry form.
  • Correct Building Products For more info, please indicate #12 in eInquiry form.
  • Deckorators For more info, please indicate #13 in eInquiry form.
  • DE-KOR by Mile High Balusters For more info, please indicate #14 in eInquiry form.
  • Feeney Architectural Products For more info, please indicate #15 in eInquiry form.
  • Fiberon For more info, please indicate #16 in eInquiry form.
  • L.B. Plastics For more info, please indicate #17 in eInquiry form.
  • LWO Corporation For more info, please indicate #18 in eInquiry form.
  • Maine Ornamental For more info, please indicate #19 in eInquiry form.
  • RainEscape For more info, please indicate #20 in eInquiry form.
  • Simpson Strong-Tie For more info, please indicate #21 in eInquiry form.
  • Trex For more info, please indicate #22 in eInquiry form.
  • Universal Forest Products For more info, please indicate #23 in eInquiry form.