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10 Cutting Edge Ideas to Make Outdoor Living Spaces Stand Out

With the deck building season looming, contractors and homeowners are beginning to consider covetable outdoor living design layouts inspired by the wide selection of decking products and accessories that are made from low-maintenance and high-performance materials.

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With the deck building season looming, contractors and homeowners are beginning to consider covetable outdoor living design layouts inspired by the wide selection of decking products and accessories that are made from low-maintenance and high-performance materials. Premium decking options have consistently improved as technology has become more advanced. And, with that evolution comes new trends.

Jason “Dr. Decks” Russell has been in the decking industry since he began working with his father right after high school. Taking his career into his own hands, Russell moved to Washington and took a unique approach to decking design. With 25 years in the decking industry under his belt, Russell began taking on his projects with more of a rebellious nature, landing the nickname “The Rebel Contractor” in the process. Russell has managed to consistently remain ahead of the trends, most recently winning first prize for Best Alternative Deck by the North American Deck and Railing Association, and is consulted as a trusted expert each year as the building season hits.
While decks will remain a place to congregate and enjoy the great outdoors, below, “Dr. Decks” shares 10 new trends he believes are ready to takeoff this year.

Deck Board Bending

Curves are becoming increasingly popular in the decking world, contradicting the antiquated idea that all decks must have square corners. Using a Seattle-based product called HeatCon, I am able to use the control box and two silicone heating blankets to gradually raise the temperature of the PVC decking board, which is why I like to use products like AZEK. Once I get it to the right temperature, the deck board can be manipulated to any shape the homeowner wants. Now that I’ve started doing curves, I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

Taking the Inside, Outside

With new development in outdoor building materials and the increased use of technology, deck owners can enjoy more of their day-to-day activities outdoors. Outdoor kitchens are gaining in popularity, and to make the deck usable even when the weather might not be perfect, I expect to see a lot more covered area spaces.
With the decreasing price of televisions, outdoor entertainment systems are more popular with waterproof audio systems allowing for the complete entertainment experience outside. The decking area has transitioned from a place to eat dinner and go back inside into a place to spend the entire night entertaining.

Heating & Lighting to Extend Seasonality

One thing that is definitely changing in the decking industry is the outdated idea that decks can only be used when it is warm outside. With more and more people thinking about their deck as an extension of their home, rather than just a place for summer barbeques, deck usage is extending deeper into the fall, and even into the winter in some cases.
While temperatures might drop and days might be shorter, heating and lighting is a trend that is expected to pick up in the New Year. Ceramic style heaters allow for spot heating and fire pits continue to grow in popularity as additions to outdoor spaces, adding another level of warmth and comfort to extend the seasonality of your deck.

Decks Built for the Elements

Because decks are predominately uncovered, they are exposed to any and all elements. Wooden decks might be cheaper up front, but they age at a faster pace with exposure to sun and moisture, requiring a lot of upkeep. Consumers are increasingly investing in decking materials that offer a slew of benefits and are longer-lasting. Premium deck boards are seeing an increase in popularity.

Increase in Popularity of Gray Decking

Long gone are the days where all decks are wooden and brown. Manufacturers have released different paints and stains that are long-lasting and well-wearing, allowing homeowners to put more personality into their decks. Gray has become increasingly popular. AZEK and TimberTech, for example, offer eight different profiles of the color, and the neutral tone is expected to stay trendy for years to come as homeowners look for variety and differentiation in building their deck.

Virtual Deck Design

Before jumping into a big investment like a deck, many homeowners go back and forth on the idea before actually taking the plunge. Virtual deck design has become increasingly popular because it allows the customer to see what they are getting out of the investment before opening their wallet. Recently launched software tools and apps allow contractors and homeowners to visualize their dream deck designs before they are able to see the end result. There are also apps available to design your deck virtually. There is really no need to go to work without a homeowner loving the 3D version before breaking ground.

Fast Install

No contractor wants to spend longer on a jobsite than needed. With a limited deck-building season for much of the country, builders want the fastest and easiest install possible so they can move on to the next project quickly. Light boards and railing options make one-person deck building possible. With a growing number of decks being built with each passing year, rapid, quality installs will no longer be just a luxury, but a necessity.

New Wave Composites

Times have changed since homeowners were conditioned to simply tolerate wooden decks that became warped and splinted away as they aged. Composite decking has become increasingly popular over the years as deck owners realized that wood just doesn’t have the same longevity when it comes to withstanding rough environments.

Drawing Inspiration from Interests

The best decks draw inspiration from their surroundings—even if it’s a little outside the box! Pizza might seem like an unlikely base for a successful building plan, but the deck that was recognized by the North American Deck & Railing Association was inspired by a pizza oven.
That’s just one example of a larger theme. People want their outdoor living space to reflect who they are. Whether it’s a love for sports, music, greenery, water elements, or cooking, homeowners want to truly enjoy their time outdoors, and they will be tapping into existing interests for inspiration in their deck design.

Rooftop Spaces

As populations continue to increase in urban environments, rooftop decking is becoming increasingly popular in order to maximize the amount of space at hand. In many cities, wooden decks simply can’t withstand the wear and tear of harsh climates. Now, with new products that allow rooftop decks to last through a wide variety of different weather climates, the concept is expected to be a growing trend in the year ahead.
Building product manufacturers have taken notice of the trend and are introducing solutions suited to the phenomenon, such as lighter weight boards to make rooftop installations easier and Class A flame spread ratings—great for urban settings.
As manufacturers introduce more advanced products for consumers and contractors to use in their decking ventures, the options are endless. Homeowners are now able to invest in their outdoor spaces with ease, knowing they will be long lasting and usable through at least three seasons of the year.
Long gone are the days when decks can only be enjoyed on a sunny day, thanks in large part to these new decking trends that are expected to pick up steam this year.