Latest composite innovations Wood-plastic composite decking is
forecast to “experience above average annual gains in demand through 2020,” according to the Freedonia Group, noting that “composite decking is popular with consumers seeking decks that have longevity while maintaining a wood-like appearance.” It’s not surprising that people like composites’ durability and aesthetics, as manufacturers have continually strived to make improvements in those two areas since the category was introduced in the late ’80s. Now that deck contractors have access to long-life composites with the beauty of real wood, what’s the next stage of innovation?
Temperature friendlier composites
Chances are good you’ve had customers ask about composite decking getting too hot. Market research shows surface temperature is the number one buyer concern not addressed by decking products that have been available. While any dark colored decking absorbs sunlight and can heat up, as composites are more dense that traditional wood decking, some products can become uncomfortably hot in direct sun. This can mean having to hot-foot it across the deck in bare feet or keep pets off the deck. While it might seem like this is a problem only in sunny climates like the Southwest, Texas and Florida, even in northern regions, long sunny days can result in a too-hot deck. In some ways, it’s more of an issue in cooler regions, since people have fewer sunny days in the year to enjoy their deck as an outdoor retreat and don’t want to lose any deck time.
To address this problem, new are composite boards that optimize heat reflection. Specifically, boards made with CoolDeck technology absorb up to 35% less heat than conventional capped composites in similar colors. The result is a noticeably lower surface temperature in direct sun.
Improved Surface Finishes & Patterns
Another innovation this year in composites is boards with improved aesthetics and enhanced fade, stain and scratch resistance. Next generation composites such as MoistureShield Vision offer rich colors with striking visual patterns that emulate exotic woods. The technology behind these aesthetic improvements also will eventually enable homeowners, builders or designers to customize the surface appearances of deck boards. This will likely be a popular option for urban homeowners, who often look for their decks to be an extension of their indoor living spaces. For such homeowners, going beyond the look of wood to custom colors and finishes will be a key selling point. Composite decking has advanced dramatically in the past 30 years. From aesthetic innovations to improved performance, these changes continue to drive their rapid market growth. Brent Gwatney is senior vice president for sales & marketing at MoistureShield (moistureshield.com). He has more than 30 years in the building industry, working with manufacturers, dealers, designers, contractors and building officials.
Summer 2017 edition of Deck Specialist, new quarterly magazine for outdoor living professionals