The home improvement industry saw a big increase last year, as people spent more time at home during the pandemic. Outdoor living as an extension of the home has become popular, especially one that can be relatively maintenance-free. Composite decking is not new to the market, but not all composite decking is created equal. There have been some impressive advances, and one company is standing out as an industry leader.
Deckorators may not be a familiar name in the composite decking industry, but the company’s products speak for themselves. What started as an aluminum spindle company for decks in 1998 is now a manufacturer in almost every category of the outdoor living experience: composite deck boards, porch floor, aluminum and cable railing, aluminum spindles, post caps, lighting, stone post covers, among other accessories.
Jeff Falke, who is a Channel Manager for Deckorators, said for the last 20 years there have been primarily two types of composite decking available in the industry: a blend of wood and plastic, and full plastic (PVC). Deckorators manufactures wood and plastic composite boards, but also has a third option that is in a category all on its own as a mineral-based composite. Made of polypropylene plastic and ground limestone (there is no wood in it), Falke explained that it overcomes objections of PVC boards, and is superior for water and ground contact such as docks, boardwalks, and around pools. “When the boards are wet, they have 34% more traction than any other deck board,” he said. It makes it an especially good option for any application where traction is critical.
Another unique feature of mineral composite boards is that the Voyage series comes in varied plank sizes—from 3.5” to 9.25” in width—which normally would be too heavy in traditional composite decking, but the mineral-based boards are lighter weight and provide greater stability, which makes this possible. The visual look of the plank boards is also unique, offering options that look like reclaimed wood, similar to what is popular with interior composite products.
Falke said the company has been extremely happy with the performance of the products. Callbacks—when contractors must fix issues—are a tool used to measure performance, and the percentage of callbacks on the mineral-based composite has been very good. Deckorators also offers unique warranty. Where other companies replace boards but do not cover the cost of labor, Deckorators offers a 25-year structural, stain and fade, as well as removal and replacement warranty (50-year structural on the mineral-based boards).
Deckorators also recognizes that homeowners have different budgets, so the company offers three lines of the mineral-based composite decking: Frontier, Vault, and Voyage, with the latter being the higher-end mineral-based option. In the wood plastic composite category for 2021, Deckorators will be expanding color options to their already popular Vista line, and Falke said they’re also coming out with an entry-level product called Trailhead. “It’s for the homeowner teetering between wood versus composite.” Making the move to composite decking from all wood may seem like a big investment, but with the increase in price for treated pine or cedar, one year of routine maintenance for a wood deck pays for the difference.
Installation has not been an issue with the new products either. Falke said either screws or hidden fastener clips can be used with the decking. The bigger issue facing the industry as a whole is finding skilled laborers. “We spend a lot of time listening to contractors and making adjustments to our products to ensure ease of installation.” For example, Deckorators offers a welded panel aluminum rail so that a contractor doesn’t have to put a railing kit together. This shortens installation time and provides the homeowner with an attractive sturdy rail.
In addition to decking, Deckorators offers porch flooring. Often used on covered front porches and on older homes, such as in areas near the city or in rural Nebraska, Deckorators porch floor is a tongue and groove product similar to a hardwood floor. It comes in three color pallettes: gray, brown, and cream, and has no gaps between boards. It can also be used on ceilings, such as with an all-seasons porch.
If you want to replace your wood deck or upgrade your outdoor living space this spring and summer, Deckorators has multiple options at every price point. Simply have your contractor reach out to one of the local lumberyards, visit www.deckorators.com or contact Jeff Falke directly at