It is fascinating to see how much has changed in the composite decking space of the building products industry over just the last ten years.
We have seen the advent of capped stock to grain etching and textures and now variegated colors that are so rich and vibrant you would be hard pressed to know that they are synthetic materials.
So what factors are behind this drive for innovation to further advance the choice and quality of decking boards?
Ultimately it is the consumer’s changing tastes but also the needs of builders who work with these materials.
The perfect person to explain this is industry insider Brent Gwatney.
Brent Gwatney is Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing for MoistureShield composite decking and serves on the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) board of directors.
Brent has kindly offered to share his experience about how new products in the composite decking industry are conceived and developed and what factors drive this relentless pursuit of innovation.
Brent, take it away...
With changing trends and technological advancements, the composite decking market is constantly evolving.
To keep up with market demands, composite decking manufacturers must keep their ear to the ground and continuously work on developing innovative products. These manufacturers can not just create any board, though.
Market research is crucial to the successful development of new composite deck boards.
The conceptualization and design of new boards must understand the needs of the homeowner, the trade trends, and the ever-changing economy as it effects the building industry.
Before creating a new product, one of the first steps is understanding what homeowners are looking for, both in performance and aesthetics. Home trends change seasonally and understanding the design tastes of modern homeowners is essential.
With the extension of the backyard as an outdoor living area, homeowners are now looking for finishes and colors that extend their indoor designs.
This has led to the development of darker, rich- toned deck board colors like Ipe and Brazilian Chestnut and advancements in the texture of the board’s surfaces.
Early generations of composites were designed as single flat colors with little or no resemblance to traditional wood.
Based on homeowner and builder feedback, brands like MoistureShield have developed realistic wood grain embossing patterns and high-end streaking techniques that resemble luxurious hard woods.
Homeowner trends cannot be the only consideration in product development, though.
And because of a strong and influential trade industry, a composite decking manufacturer must make sure that they also meet the needs of builders and retailers to have a successful building product.
While contractors are also concerned with the homeowner’s desires for improved performance and rich aesthetics, consideration for practicality and ease of installation can be a major factor in choosing a composite decking brand.
With this in mind, manufacturers have introduced products like hidden fasteners that quicken installation and have added complementary composite or aluminum railing systems that simplify the process of designing and completing a deck.
Finally, professionals in the building industry are dependent on a steady economy.
Recently, the industry has been on the rise following the few slow years of the recession. As the economy continues to become more stable, more and more homeowners are preparing to build new homes or remodel their existing homes.
With this in mind, manufacturers of all building products want to present something to homeowners that will catch their eye, and quality aesthetics are becoming more of a selling point than simple price products. This opens up many new product development opportunities for manufacturers, and especially manufacturers of specialty products like composite decking.
Given that the factors driving innovation in the composite decking market are powerful and competition is extraordinary, you can expect that what the customer desires, the customer will eventually get. It is a very vibrant and exciting part of the industry - even after twenty-five years since the first simple plastic deck board was introduced.
Brent Gwatney is also on the board of directors of North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). He is an active and thoughtful force in the industry. If you are just beginning your exploration of the various materials that are available, you should now appreciate that intense thought that goes into innovation for your benefit.
You can learn more about Brent's company MoistureShield or just click the Go Learn button below.
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