What to Expect in Decking in 2021

Over the summer, home design and renovation hub Houzz reported a 178% year-over-year jump in searches for professionals to work on deck, patio and porch projects. DIY activity also exploded as 70% of Americans decided to tackle home improvement projects during COVID-19, according to marketwatch.com. This accelerated an already strong DIY remodeling trend since 2009.Outdoor living was already booming across the U.S. when the COVID-19 pandemic set in. Then, as millions of people started to spend more time than ever in their homes, demand for outdoor living space soared to a whole new level.
Lumber and building materials dealers and their contractor customers nationwide had a very busy 2020 meeting surging demand for new and updated decks. Like the rest of the world, the LBM community enters the new year looking to navigate a dynamic new normal.
Following are five 2021 deck trends and outdoor living trends to help guide lumberyards and dealers as they prepare for the next deck-building season.
1. Staycations are not going anywhere.
Instead of spending hard-earned money on travel in 2020, many homeowners brought the vacation to them by hiring a pro to help them create a personalized outdoor space, or by tackling simple DIY updates including replacing a railing, updating balusters and post caps, or adding lights.
As trips got canceled and social interaction was often limited to screens, homeowners invested in decks as a personal getaway in their own backyard—a quiet area to focus on personal wellness, a new place for family gatherings, or to capture that outdoor restaurant experience from the safety of home.
Principia Consulting, a leading source of market intelligence for the decking industry, says this trend “is expected to continue as social behavior to stay close to home and staycations become more commonplace.” There will likely be ample opportunities in 2021 for dealers to supply products that help create more staycation havens.
2. There are more high-quality composites at lower price points.
As they consider material options for their outdoor oasis, more and more homeowners want to trade up from wood into low-maintenance composite decking—seeking wood-alternative decking that meets a desirable price point without forfeiting desirable features.
As a result of this decking trend, manufacturers are finding ways to reduce the cost of composite decking and bridge the space between composite and treated lumber. They are striving to balance the features that dealers, deck builders and homeowners have come to expect from wood-alternative decking.
It is important for dealers to talk in-depth with their manufacturer partners about the different composite decking materials and technologies, variances in price points and corresponding features, nuances to how products install, and pros and cons to competing products in different scenarios.
3. Creativity is becoming commonplace.
Deck design features that were once novelties are now being used routinely by contractors throughout the industry. Some creative design elements taking permanent hold in the deck-building world include:

  • The use of multiple colors
  • Double picture frames
  • Breaker boards
  • Unique inlays
  • Wide planks

Homeowners trust contractors and dealers to help them create a deck that is a reflection of their home and personal style. These design options are important to consider as dealers set their stocking strategies for the coming year.
4. Railings are going sleeker and more simplified.
As one of the most visible deck elements, railings can elevate and complement an aesthetically pleasing deck and landscape. The trend toward the use of seamless, low-maintenance railing options that are easy to install will continue to gain momentum into next year.
Simplified railing systems such as pre-assembled aluminum railing and intuitive cable railing save deck builders valuable time and effort on railing installation while offering a coveted sleek and modern look.
Cocktail rails and continuous top rails are the next evolution in the modern, sleek railing trend.
5. Lighting is taking more of the spotlight.
With homeowners spending so much more time on their property, they have a growing desire to extend the use of the outdoor space with lighting. Solar and low-voltage lighting offer a simple way to add beauty and function to a deck.
From stair lights to café lights and string lights that offer the vibe of outdoor restaurant dining, lighting can create ambience while increasing visibility and safety. The right outdoor lighting is easy to install and offers a prime upsell opportunity for deck projects.
While the impact of the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly, these five trends will help define the year ahead for the decking industry. Now is the perfect time for LBM dealers to get better informed on the latest trends and products so they can serve as a valuable educational resource for contractors and homeowners.
Choosing a manufacturer partner that values relationships and is always available for questions and support can also be instrumental in persevering through the uncertainty and having a highly successful 2021. 
– Jase DeBoer is senior marketing manager for Deckorators, a UFP Industries brand and an industry leader in composite decking, railings, balusters, post caps, and related products. For more info, visit pro.deckorators.com. Follow Deckorators on LinkedIn and Instagram (@Deckorators).
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