Skip to content

Building Materials

Building Materials

Decking Preferences Vary by Region

  As families continue to invest in their outdoor living spaces, we see several trends emerging from different regions throughout North America. Across our network of dealers and Wolf PRO contractors, we looked at what’s trending this season. What’s Your Region’s Color? The Northeast region of the U.S. gravitates toward Harbor Grey, a solid gray, with light color tone. For example, in New Jersey many of the docks by the shore are being constructed with complementary grays which drives this color popularity. The southern regions like North Carolina and Georgia favor warmer colors such as Sand Castle or Amberwood. And when we look at the coastal regions of Florida, a staggering 52% of decking was a shade of gray. Some of the colors are driven by style, while others may be more related to the overall homes style or reflective of HOAs. Interestingly, Canadian provinces, territories and the Northwest U.S. are on the deep, dark and natural color spectrum. They are all-in on Black Walnut and Onyx and often paired with Silver Teak. These darker colors are typically used to picture frame the deck and contrast the home’s colors. It’s not just about choosing a singular color but selecting two contrasting or complementing colors—one for the majority of the deck and one for the accent color—to set your deck apart with visual points of interest. Unique Board Placements Draw Attention When it comes to customization, color is only one piece of the deck design puzzle. Board layout and orientation can create strong visual points to create a distinct feature element, which is often influenced by the builder, their experience, and preference. Some builders have created their own custom elements to brand their services. Always keep in mind, that boards must be laid in a way that breaks up the expansion

Tips to Set and Install Stair Posts with Cable Railings

Complete and accurate measurements make all the difference If you’ve installed cable railing for level runs, you’re familiar with setting and installing posts and running the cable through for a completed project. When it comes to stairs, it takes more planning to make sure you have the right measurements and materials. We’ve compiled tips to consider from some of the most common mistakes we typically see when orders come through to our team of experts. Tip: Include stairs in your project drawings We often find the stair details are missing from drawings, and simple mistakes happen. Stairs are framed differently from project to project, and most drawings we receive (including CAD drawings) do not show the stair framing. This is why we encourage our customers to submit the entire drawings including stairs. It is important to note that on the stairway runs; no two are alike. Once we receive an order at RailFX, more often than not, we may ask for additional information — pictures and measurements — when stairs are involved. In some cases, we may need to requote a project if there is new information or a difference in layout from the original takeoff. Tip: Proper measurement and angle ensure no setback The first step to installing stair posts is to measure the stairs’ nose-to-nose distance and angle to determine the total number of posts beyond the top and bottom. Without the proper stair angle and accompanying drawings, the cable may not follow the angle properly, a significant setback to your project’s completion. Please note, code rules a 6-inch sphere should not pass through the triangle gap formed between the stair riser, stair tread, and the bottom edge of the bottom rail. Always check with your local building codes before installing. Tip: Anchor the top and bottom posts

Color Me Mine: Become a Railing Color Expert

  The days of plain white vinyl railings on every deck have given way to a rainbow of railing colors, enabled by the latest manufacturing technologies and the expanding imaginations of designers. With now near-unlimited options, how can builders help guide customers to the best color choice for their deck railing project? “Choosing the right railing defines your home, and selecting the right color is as important on the outside of the home as it is on the inside,” says Andrew Pantelides, VP of marketing and business development for Regal ideas. “When it comes to doors, trim, shutters and furniture, the color trends we are seeing are ones of eye-catching colors that define personality and style. More and more homeowners are viewing their outdoor spaces as an extension of their indoors.” Certainly, railing color choice is a critical decision in planning a project. When you walk out onto a deck, your eyes are usually going to see the railing first. According to Steven Phillips, product manager in charge of railing for Trex, “Our focus is on making sure consumers have safe but inspiring choices that complement any decking color. Earth tones like Vintage Lantern (a chocolate brown) compliment safer choices like Classic White and Charcoal Black. Softer tones like Rope Swing and Gravel Path give consumers more outside-the-box options that aren’t too polarizing. However, making sure the channel can support inventory requirements is always critical, so the color palette has to be selected carefully.” Fairway’s aluminum systems come in three different colors, steel railings in two, and cellular PVC in white. “Those three railing technologies—aluminum, steel and cellular PVC—cover three color categories in black, bronze and white, which represent about 90% of market demand,” said Chase Moritz, marketing manager for parent Envision Decking. “Within those technologies, we offer varying finish

Alternative Decking & Railing Have Their Day

Outdoor living is booming. Trends in this space have grown more pronounced, as people are spending more time at home and looking at structures like decks with fresh eyes. Instead of getting away for a weekend, they’re seeking to create relaxing retreats in their own backyards that they can enjoy year-round. Your lumberyard and big box store suppliers have already been capitalizing on this opportunity, and products built for the outside continue to fly off shelves. While beneficial for many dealers, the sky-high demand for products like decking has also contributed to a diminishing lumber supply. We’re seeing the current shortages driving decking trends on a macro level. As projects have halted and material purchasing needs have changed, many are reevaluating their stocking options, bearing decking price point, personalization and framing trends in mind. Greater Demand for Alternative Decking at Lower and Higher Price Points In 2018/2019, there was a shift towards the lower-end alternative decking category. Now, with today’s shortages coupled with the pent up demand resulting from staying at home, homeowners and DIYers have become increasingly interested in readily available and cost-effective alternative materials. Checking both boxes, easily obtainable traditional composite deck boards are less expensive, while affording strength, usability and beauty. What’s more, the price gap between composite and wood has narrowed significantly, making it an easier conversion for the channel. As for alternative mid-range products, these will always have a play. After all, for the person participating at a low-end price point, there’s an opportunity to upsell to the middle ground. We’ve also seen a migration to higher-end decking offerings. For example, as lead times have extended due to material scarcity, more customers are considering readily available options like capped PVC decking. With this material, you get a true, natural look delivering weatherability, slip-resistance and UV

Thermally Modified Imports Hit US

G Wood Products, New York, NY, has been formed to serve as the exclusive US distributor of Tantimber’s unique line of thermally treated wood products. Produced in a state-of-the-art facility in Sakarya, Turkey, the products provide stability and durability surpassing that of conventional wood by refining and transforming the internal structure of the wood through Tantimber’s cutting-edge Thermowood process. Tantimber CEO Yakup Kayatas noted: “G Wood Products has reached a key distribution agreement with Tantimber which allows G Wood Products to offer eco-friendly thermally modified decking and siding products throughout the United States.” G Wood Products include a wide variety of decking, siding and other lumber that meet standards set by the International Thermowood Association, and manufacturing guidelines as set by European Norms CEN/TS 15679. Kayatas added: “With sophisticated, value-added, and high-demand products such as charred sidings, fire-rated sidings and pre-aged products we are confident that G Wood Products will set new standards in the U.S. wood market.”

Building Decks on EWP

While homeowners lounge on their luxe outdoor couches or roast s’mores with the family around the deck firepit, they often take for granted the importance of the structural framing systems that are making it all possible. For decades, traditional wood products used in deck construction quickly succumbed to the elements to which they are so frequently exposed: sun, insects, rain, snow and natural organic breakdown of the material. Recently, engineered wood manufacturer Pacific Woodtech (PWT), a Burlington, WA.-based company, unveiled a treated deck solution that addresses the critically important structural framing systems that support everything else. PWT Treated LVL is the world’s first manufacturer-treated laminated veneer lumber. For all the same reasons engineered wood products have become immensely popular in interior residential framing (40% to 50% market share), they are becoming increasingly sought out for exterior framing needs. Bigger Building Options PWT Treated allows designers to greatly increase the scale of exterior framing projects in many of the same ways they have been able to do in the interior. Step outside to enjoy larger open areas. Take in grander vistas by decreasing the number of posts, columns or larger overhangs and balconies, and save time and money by reducing the number of energy-intensive footings that need to be installed. Sturdier Products Treating LVL with conventional methods for dimensional lumber weakens the structure of the product. Fortunately, PWT discovered Kop-Coat’s Tru-Core technology, which fully penetrates each veneer layer to the center then adds an envelope finish to protect each piece from the inside out. Every beam, joist and column suffers no loss of properties, and is safeguarded against damage caused by fungal rot, decay and insects. The final product, explains PWT’s Matt Caissie, “is just as strong as it was pre-treatment, and that gives us the ability to create long spans.

Selling Fencing for Sound Minimization

Not only does a good fence frame the yard and add to a home’s curb appeal, but it also can provide an element of privacy and safety, including noise reduction. Sound minimization is becoming especially prevalent as more houses are being built on the same acreage as previously built developments, according to the Census Bureau’s 2018 Characteristics of New Housing data. Neighborhoods are packed tighter as more people flock to city centers to be in good school districts. This means more noise and less privacy—unless a home has a great fence around the perimeter, that is. You might have to be creative to construct a useful sound barrier on a property. Here are some factors to consider when recommending fence products: Material and structure The heavier the fence, the fewer disturbances that will make their way into a yard. Different materials will interact with sound differently, but generally speaking, the more rigid a material, the better it will handle sound. Brick or stone masonry are clearly the most “rigid” choice, but can be cumbersome and expensive. Products reinforced with steel or other materials are also a good bet for blocking sound. When the sound has more layers to go through, the fence material is less likely to vibrate and amplify the sound waves when they hit it. However, a fence doesn’t have to be a brick wall to be impervious to noise. Materials such as layered wood, vinyl and polymer are also effective at dampening or blocking noise, assuming the fence provides coverage from the ground up and there aren’t any gaps or slats for soundwaves to slip through. Hedging and shrubbery can also help to absorb sounds if planted in front of the fence inside the yard. Landscaping features with running water, like fountains or constructed waterfalls, can help

Making the Most of a Scenic View

Fall is a great time to spend time on the deck. Whether you’re overlooking a beach, lakefront, rolling hills with vibrant fall colors, or other scenic vista, getting out on the deck in the cooler autumn temperatures can be downright therapeutic. But regardless of what you’re overlooking, the vista is the focal point, which is one reason that cable railing systems are gaining in popularity. One manufacturer reported that their cable railing system sales were up 300% over the prior year. Here are some of the reasons that consumers are increasingly turning towards cable railing over other railing systems. Naturally, any option considered must meet applicable safety criteria (OSHA, ADA and ICC Building Code). Railing systems, after all, are a barrier to keep people and pets from falling off the deck. Aesthetics. It’s all about the view. While some may suggest wooden railing to match a wooden deck, the sheer view-blocking bulk of the cross bars could compromise the outdoor living experience. There are other options that work well with all kinds of deck architecture, offering an aesthetically pleasing, modern look which is ideal for many high-end deck projects. Cable railing, which offers a virtually unobstructed views without the daily maintenance of glass railing systems, is becoming increasingly popular. Stainless steel cables combine with aluminum posts and rail assemblies to form a strong, durable, maintenance-free system that will last for a lifetime. But not all cable systems are the same—those with bulky turnbuckle systems for tightening the cables or with mid-rail vertical support pickets added are falling out of favor with consumers who’d prefer to the see the view that those items obstruct. A major component of cable railing systems is (drumroll please…) the cable. Smart consumers demand those that will not stretch or sag over time, especially on the

T-Rex pro-grade duct tapes

There was a time when if you wanted a roll of  “good,” heavy-duty, ultra-sticky duct tape, you either had to be a HVAC technician or have made friends with the sheet metal subcontractor who was working on the same subdivision tract as you were. The latter also usually involved the exchange of several cold adult beverages and the requisite loitering and discussion of all things building related, while enjoying their consumption. After this, you were pretty well guaranteed duct tape and gutter sealant for as long as that sub was on your job. I often wondered how the sheet metal company never came to notice all those “gifted” rolls of Nashua Tape and tubes of gutter sealant, or maybe they just considered them as “consumables,” which I guess, in a roundabout way, they really were. Nowadays, in this same scenario, both you and the sub would most likely be arrested for loitering, drinking in public, and theft of construction materials—then unceremoniously fired. Oh, how far we have come. Thankfully, the people at T-Rex are looking out for us, after deciding that the venerable roll of tape, found rolling around every trademan’s toolbox, deserved an upgrade. With the T-Rex line of professional tape products, you can fix a small hole in a wet/dry vacuum hose, patch that bucket that cracks on the last day of construction, and solve so many other minor frustrations that can add up to project delays and dollars lost. Pro-grade duct tapes and specialty tapes, while seeming unnecessary before starting a job, can provide on-the-fly repairs when you need them most. It won’t be every day you need it, but on that day you do, you will really need it. Below are examples of how we used T-Rex on our jobs. Site Prep We used double-sided poly-hanging

Affordable Capped Composite

MoistureShield’s new Elevate capped wood composite decking offers advanced protection and beauty within an entry-level budget. The strong, protective cap shields each board from impact, corrosion and harsh weather. Offered in Lake Fog gray and Canoe brown, Elevate also features the Solid Core Difference, a proprietary manufacturing process offering protection against moisture absorption, warping, rotting, and damage from insects right at the core of each board. The 5/4” deck boards come in 12- and 16-ft. lengths in grooved profiles and 20-ft. lengths with a solid edge for deck stairs and picture framing, as well as fascia boards in 12-ft. lengths. For additional information visit MOISTURESHIELD.COM or call  (866) 729-2378

Mixed-Width Decking

Deckorators has expanded its Voyage composite decking line to include a fifth color—Khaya, a true brown—and varied-plank decking, bringing the interior design trend of mixing widths of hardwood flooring to outdoor living. Formulated to meet demand for a darker brown composite, Khaya joins four other color options (Sierra, Tundra, Costa and Mesa). All are offered in 12-, 16- and 20-ft. grooved and solid-edge profiles, as well as 12-ft. fascia. The varied-plank decking comes in solid widths of 3-1/2”, 5-1/2”, and 7-1/4”—the first two widths also offered with grooved-edge profiles for use with hidden fasteners. For additional information visit DECKORATORS.COM or call (800) 332-5724    

When Space Is Limited, Transform the Roof into an Outdoor Haven

Outdoor spaces have become increasingly popular to homeowners nationwide who are using decks as extensions to their homes. Decks and porches are more easily built for those who live in the suburbs or countryside, given they usually have the luxury of space. This is not necessarily an option in some of the more crowded cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Big-city locals have the same desire to spend time outside, so getting creative is imperative to turn that feeling into a reality. Thus, rooftop decks have become an increasingly popular solution over the past few years. “When you have an area like New York City or Brooklyn, everything is bunched up together. The only area you really have is your roof,” Keith Camacho, owner of Stellar Decks and lifetime Brooklyn resident, said. “People in New York are known to utilize these spaces for entertaining because it is the only area they can really enjoy the perks of outdoor living. People are recognizing that in instances when you aren’t able to extend your space, you have to look upward.” In many instances, these outdoor spaces are constructed on residential and commercial high rises, so they also come with regulations. Aside from certain weight restrictions, materials must be flame-spread rated to be approved for the building permit. “If there’s a fire, the wood will burn immediately,” Camacho said. “For building permit approval, everything needs to be fire rated, so composite and PVC products are typically preferred.” While inspectors look for those details, homeowners also have a common request when it comes to residential rooftop spaces: low maintenance. “A lot of people are looking for products that don’t take a lot of work to maintain. In cities like New York, outdoor spaces can only be enjoyed for a certain amount of