logo

Companies revamp efforts to mimic indoor living outdoors

By: Catherine Kavanaugh

February 28, 2014

LAS VEGAS — TimberTech is promoting new decking colors and styles in its Earthwood Evolutions capped composite line, which the company says is the only fully encapsulated deck board.

A trio of hues called mocha, pecan and tigerwood are meant to mimic the hand-scraped, artisan look found in indoor flooring, according to TimberTech spokeswoman Maureen Murray.

"The real innovation in the market is happening with the capped composites and the authentic looks this technology brings forth," Murray said of the board-to-board variations in the wood and polyethylene composites.

The goal is to take decks from rustic and relaxed to elegant and modern, Murray added.

Innovations that artfully blur the line between indoors and outdoors were evident throughout the International Builders' Show, held Feb. 4-6 in Las Vegas.

The latest trends go well beyond the look of interior flooring reaching out to exterior decks. Patio doors are becoming so wide they form glass walls that slide or fold open to ever-swankier outdoor spaces. Deck stairs are giving way to spiral stairs. Deck rails and levels are dividing eating areas with food prep stations from seating areas with fountains and fire pits.

Decking companies offered some of the most inviting displays at this year's IBS, which attracted about 75,000 attendees, in part because it was collocated with the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

Therma-Tru introduced a mahogany grain option to its fiberglass door line to compliment wood tones in the home's interior and extend the hardwood look to entrances, patios, garages and service doors.

Koma Building Products is gearing up to manufacture 40-foot-wide patio doors in the United States. Royal Building Products is offering a new slide-and-stack patio door in addition to its portfolio of vinyl pipes, windows, siding, decking, trim and molding.

"This beautiful door opens all the way up and stacks back into the corner and you have this great vista whether it's a mountain property or ocean," said Jennifer McGill, group marketing director for Royal Building Products.

"Overall, Royal has been trying to move more to step-up and premium homes with products, including the door and some of our siding, trim and accessories," McGill said. "We're moving away from the commodity view of vinyl building products to this more premium view with a real focus in low maintenance, design and sustainability."

Trex Co. promoted a line of spiral stairs that hit the market late last year. The wood-alternative deck and rail manufacturer stepped up its efforts to enhance yards with a space-saving, cost-saving alternative to standard stairs. Spiral stairs don't require additional decking and railing.

"More and more, homeowners and contractors are thinking outside the box when it comes to creating distinctive outdoor living spaces of all shapes, sizes and levels," Trex CEO Ronald W. Kaplan said in a statement.

All of the products in the Trex decking line were developed in the last four years — a fast fact that company officials say shows the composite material maker leads the category in innovation.

The company is keeping it simple these days with a streamlined selection of so-called "good, better and best" collections called Trex Select, Trex Enhance and Trex Transcend, respectively.

At the onset of the builders' show, Trex officials announced that their transition to producing only high-performance composite deck materials was complete.

"As of the first of the year, every decking product in our lineup did not exist four years ago," Kaplan said in a statement.

On the flip side, extruder Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc., (AERT), which was founded in 1988, highlighted its enduring lines of composite decks made of reclaimed plastic and wood fiber waste.

Still, AERT did introduce a new line of MoistureShield Pro capstock decking at IBS.

"If you want a cap for lower maintenance, so you wash it off once or twice a year, here you go," said Brent Gwatney, AERT's senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The cap also increases fade-, stain-, scratch- and slip-resistance, he said, adding that moisture has never been a problem for the company's decking. All MoistureShield composite decking products are made with an exclusive manufacturing process that encapsulates wood fibers in polyethylene plastic to put moisture protection at the core of each board.

"We make it waterproof," Gwatney said. "Cap got started because everyone was having problems with their composites absorbing moisture. We don't need a cap for that."

Competitors are covering up composite decks with capstock to address performance problems, Gwatney said.

"We fought it for a while and then I looked around the room and saw we were fighting $200 [million]-$300 million marketing budgets," he said. "We decided we'll make a cap but we'll make one that's better. That's what we did with this product. It can be put on the ground, in the ground, under the water and it has a lifetime transferrable warranty. Others changed from a composite to a cap and they still have the same warranty because it's not a better product."

MoistureShield Pro comes in three variegated colors called Ipe, Brazilian chestnut and graystone.

The color selection for builders and remodelers continues to grow. Azek, which is also part of CPG International Inc., added six new colors — three "tropical" — to its PVC decking line, which now boasts 17 colors in five collections.

Azek also added 8-inch by 8-inch pavers made from recycled plastics and tires to its product line to expand design options for patios, decks, balconies and driveways.