This is a guest post from LBM Journal:

It can be a challenge when someone comes into your store asking about products and trends. If you want to make the sale, you certainly want to be as knowledgeable as you can. They might present you with questions such as, “What are the most popular colors?” “What else can I do to enhance my outdoor living space?” and “What are the best products to use for what type of deck I'm looking to build?” The questions are endless, and that's why you've got to be prepared to answer questions about the latest trends for the current season.

deck trends
Deck railing is trending for all the right reasons

Just like any trend, certain colors, materials or characteristics are hot one year and might fade the next. After spending the past months preparing for the spring, here is what I've found to be the latest decking crazes for the new season:

1. Size

The sizes of decks are changing. While the actual square footage of decks may be shrinking in some cases, the overall outside living space is increasing. The space has expanded to include landscape, hardscape and outside kitchen integration. As I mentioned last issue, it's important for deck builders to work with landscapers to create a design that encompasses a total outdoor living experience.

2. Composites

The recent trends in composite decking are products with capstock. As technologies enhance, homeowners are noticing the benefits composite decking offers. Many wood-plastic composites (WPC) are now offered with multi-chromatic capstock finishes that are designed to avoid warping, splitting or rotting.

3. Railings

As homeowners spend more money on their outdoor living spaces, railing options are expanding. Instead of the traditional powder-coated railing with a gloss finish, the trend has shifted to matte colors.

4. Outdoor Kitchens

For a growing number of homeowners, a traditional decking space with a BBQ is a thing of the past. Now, they're looking for an inclusive outdoor experience. Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity. Manufacturers are making this easy by offering complete units that come pre-installed, and offer high quality and durability.

5. LED Lighting

The average life for incandescent lights is about a year. The average life for LED lighting is about 50 years. While the initial cost to install LED lighting may be higher, homeowners get more for their money over time. Once installed (a relatively easy process), LED lighting has a low cost to operate and is less of a hazard. Be sure to watch for manufacturers incorporating lighting into their own lines.

6. Hidden Fasteners

More manufacturers are offering their own hidden fasteners systems that make it easier to improve the aesthetics of a deck. Since this trend is offered increasingly through manufacturers, it's best to stick with their systems when building a deck. ICC Evaluation Service Reports, or ESRs, specify which fasteners can and cannot be used during decking building. Remember, ESRs take priority over manufacturers' manuals.

7. Under the Deck

The space under the deck is now being utilized more frequently. This space can be enhanced with roll down screens
and/or a rain diversion system, making the below-deck area waterproof. This makes the space more useful and creates additional space for homeowners.

8. Alternative Footing Solutions

An alternative footing solution is one that doesn't require excavation to install. These solutions are code approved and have caused a huge change for installation and sales practices.

9. Treated Lumber

Throughout the recent seasons, there has been an acceptance for brown treated lumber with stabilizers. While the trend is beginning to increase, there is still a preference for brown treated lumber rather than green.

10. Blending of Space

Most homeowners do not want their deck to exceed the largest room in their house. However, they do want to duplicate shapes and angles while blending outdoor space. As in homebuiding, the open-concept fashion has really caught on. Homeowners are looking to improve the space with outdoor fabrics, matching stone and integrated landscaping.

Source | by Bob Heidenreich | Owner The Deck Store