The pandemic accelerated decking trends already in place as consumers focused more on the value and role of homes in a world where some 2.5 million people have died from the COVID-19 virus.
Some decking manufacturers were already adding capacity when lockdowns started in March 2020 and sent Americans into their houses and back yards for weeks and months at a time.
Since then, outdoor living spaces have become even more coveted for working and learning from home and social gatherings. Homeowners are showing no signs of letting up on decking investments.
In mid-February, Azek Co. raised its outlook, projecting overall sales to increase 14 percent to 18 percent — up from a range of 10 percent to 14 percent estimated last December.
The Chicago-based company saw sales climb $105 million in its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, to $899.3 million.
Consumers are clamoring for more, according to Azek CEO Ralph Nicoletti
"We remain encouraged by our strong demand trends, including internal signals like web traffic, digital engagement and sample orders growth, as well as external demand signals, such as housing starts and repair and remodeling activity," Nicoletti said during a Feb. 11 earnings conference call about first quarter 2021 results.
Azek is in the midst of a three-phase plan to increase capacity by 70 percent. The third phase is scheduled to ramp up in the first two fiscal quarters of 2022.
If Azek needs to bolster production even more, Nicoletti said, "… the existing capacity plan does provide some more space in both our Wilmington [Ohio] and our to-be-named West facility to add more incrementally without a lot of extra infrastructure."
Azek also operates manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
With estimated annual profile sales of $515 million, Azek ranks No. 8 among North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
For 2021, Azek released a new TimberTech Azek brand capped PVC decking line inspired by rustic, reclaimed wood. Called the Landmark Collection, the decking has a natural woodgrain surface texture with unique crosscuts.
Azek applies a proprietary color-cascading technology to the boards to blend several colors and produce highlights and lowlights similar to variations found in nature, according to a news release.