Here’s the good news for decking specialists and remodelers: people are moving outdoors. According to The Freedonia Group, U.S. demand for decking is forecast to increase 1.8% per year through 2020. The better news is that this growth is valued at $7.1 billion. Want to get a piece of the “decking pie?” Then you’ll have to get inside the minds of homeowners.
“There are four key reasons homeowners are currently making the decision to remodel an existing deck,” says James Carey, co-host of the On the House with the Carey Brothers home improvement radio show and website. “First, safety. When people look at their decks and see deteriorating deck boards or handrails, that raises a red flag for them. They don’t want an ‘accident ready to happen’ so they invest in deck repairs and replacement.
“Second, appearance. From a ‘sense of pride’ standpoint, when homeowners see that their decking materials or finish have lost some of their luster, that’s when they pull the trigger on investing in a new deck. Third is the desire for an easier lifestyle. People may have a deck that requires a lot of maintenance and they’re simply tired of it. They’re looking for more durable, maintenance-free materials that will last longer and require less energy to maintain.
“And finally, the fourth factor is the big opportunity for deck specialists: the expanded footprint. This is when homeowners need more space for entertaining or simply want to enjoy their existing deck more. They’re ready to add to their home’s footprint with entertaining and living space outdoors. Maybe this is on another tier of the deck, or even a new deck addition like a pergola or outdoor kitchen.”
Those four key reasons can be mimicked for homeowners adding new decks or replacing old wood decks. According to results from the 2016 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features, presented by the National Association of Realtors Research Department, 48% of consumers surveyed after completing a new wood deck said their top reason for doing the project was to add features and improve the livability of their homes. The second most common reason (38%) was to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials.
Dealers looking to sell new decking to consumers can look at the “hot buttons” identified in the realtors study: enhancing the home and staying at home more. After completing the addition of a new wood deck, 77% of the homeowners said they have a greater desire to be at home since the project was completed. At the same time, 51% have an increased sense of enjoyment when they’re at home.
“This research shows what we’ve known for quite awhile: there’s a growing trend in adding outdoor living space to homes that help move the indoors outside,” says Paul Mackie, Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. “Additions to the deck are growing as people embrace outdoor living more. These additions can include pergolas, outdoor kitchen grilling and dining areas, wine fridges and even fire pits. People are moving outdoors. They want to both enjoy their deck space themselves during quiet times and take the party outside for entertaining.”
According to Mackie, the appeal of a cedar deck comes in its durability and deep, rich authentic look. Naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects, cedar can be stained or finished to complement a home’s siding and yard.
While many homeowners are attracted to real cedar, a growing number of people are embracing composite decking materials. For some, the idea of having a composite deck to match up with fiber cement or vinyl siding rings out with the appealing call of “low maintenance.”
“Just as a homeowner focuses on the aesthetic appeal of wood floors inside their home, we know it’s important that outdoor decking space carries that natural wood feel to the outside,” says Shara Gamble with TAMKO. “We created the Envision Distinction product that provides specially blended color that can’t be replicated. The bold highlights and differentiation in every board provide a one-of-a-kind decking experience. That luxurious, carefree decking experience is what homeowners are looking for these days. People need more living space, so they’re pushing outdoors. Adding or remodeling a deck increases a home’s usable space, adds value to the house and costs significantly less than building a new room to a home.”
According to Gamble, the decking lifestyle is a tangible thing that homeowners are gravitating toward. “Whether it’s creating the deck as your own personal retreat at home for yoga, or planning to experiment more with grill cooking, we know people feel good about investing in a deck,” says Gamble. “A deck specialist meeting with a homeowner need only ‘set the stage’ by talking about the multitude of possibilities for family entertainment when trying to upsell a deck. By explaining the options of adding seating areas, dedicated outdoor grilling areas or even a wood fire pizza oven, you can connect people mentally with the elements that make deck living so attractive.”
Both Gamble and Mackie agree that aesthetics, performance and low maintenance aspects are key players when it comes time for deck specialists to upsell decking materials. By painting the image of expanded living space and entertainment possibilities, decking specialists can gain more sales.
“The deck is a retreat for a homeowner—even if just for 30 minutes a day,” says Gamble. “Because of that, people want to be surrounded by relaxing sounds and warmth. A key way for deck specialists to make those aspects materialize is by recommending unique deck accents, like fire pits, water features, garden planters, and other elements that people can relate to.”
Whether a current deck has lost its luster or a homeowner is ready to take their decking experience to the next level, upsell products abound in today’s market for deck specialists to grow their business.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Weyerhaeuser and TAMKO