Railing is like French fries.
Any financial analyst will tell you fast-food chains make most of their profits on fries and soft drinks - so-called ``afterthought'' items.
The same is true of extruders and railing, but unlike fast-food restaurants, deck makers have continued to innovate their railing systems.
Louisiana-Pacific Corp. displayed a new white railing system at DeckExpo, held Feb. 27 to March 1 in Las Vegas. The Nashville, Tenn.-based firm joined with Bayport, Minn.-based Andersen Corp. to use Andersen's Fibrex composite technology in the railing.
The companies' product has been part of the hottest trend in polymer-based railing during the past year. Widespread introduction of wood-plastic composite railing with white coextruded capstock has swept the industry, said some officials.
``Consumers wanted a beefier post and rail,'' said Lance Keller, LP's national decking specialist. Keller pointed out his firm's 5-by-5-inch post, in place of the typical 4-by-4 variety.
LP and Andersen also created texturized post caps, as opposed to the shiny gloss on most injection molded caps.
For now, the railing only is available in the Northeast, but LP officials said they plan to roll it out slowly across the country.
Another company, Joplin, Mo.-based Tamko Building Products Inc., exhibited its triple-layer extruded railing - a product that features a PVC interior surrounded by a foamed-wood composite layer and an outer PVC cap stock. The railing is strong enough to stretch 8 feet without a support post or metal inserts, said marketing director Mick Whelan.
Tamko added color streaking to its compression molded EverGrain deck boards. The company showed off the product with its brand-new railing system and trilayer railing - all in a do-it-yourself kit.
Not to be outdone, Wilmington, Ohio-based TimberTech Ltd., which already offers a version of the popular white composite railing, also has introduced a black version, an industry first.
``No one has it. And people like black,'' said Paul Bizzari, the firm's vice president of innovation. TimberTech uses an acrylic styrene acrylonitrile cap stock for color fastness.
``The Radiance rail has exceeded our expectations,'' he said.