In one region, at least, plastic decking now leads pressure-treated wood.
Half of the decking in the northeastern United States is now made of synthetic materials such as plastic composites, according to a new study.
Wooden decking still has a 46 percent market share in the region, but a majority of outdoor living spaces are now constructed with composite and cellular PVC boards that stand up to weather and require little maintenance.
Alternative decking products, which include capped and uncapped composites, are doing best in this U.S. region, according to an industry analyst at Principia Consulting LLC, a Malvern, Pa.-based research and consulting firm.
The West is next. However, in this region, alternative decking accounts for 40 percent of demand, compared with 56 percent for wood — particularly cedar — although some pockets of California prefer redwood.
The market share gap widens in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, where wood, which also includes pressure-treated lumber and hardwoods, satisfies 59-73 percent of demand, while alternatives top out at 25-36 percent.
Composite decking manufacturers are out to change that. They have been chipping away at wood sales for years with improved performance and better warranties. Now they're trying to compete on price, too, in a market where 1 percentage point represents about $50 million in sales.
The U.S. residential decking market, which was valued at $3.1 billion in 2018, will grow 6.5 percent annually in value by 2021, according to Principia.
Overall, the firm says wood decking in 2018 had a 79 percent share of the market by lineal-foot volume; alternative-wood decking had a 19 percent share; and other decking, such as hollow vinyl, plastic lumber and metal, had a 2 percent share.
In 2015, wood decking's market share was roughly 80 percent. Wood price increases and manufacturing advances to meet consumer demands for decking that stays cool under the hot sun and better replicates wood helped bolster capped composite sales.