Outdoor Decking is timber alternatives
In 2002, the market of tropical decking represented only one percent of the residential decking market in the U.S. (a $3 billion industry). The high durability of plastic decking encourages its use (lifespan of 50 years) over tropical lumber (lifespan of 20-30 years) and treated lumber (lifespan of 10-15 years). In 2001, treated Southern Yellow Pines represent 65% of the US residential decking market followed by other (imported temperate) treated species (8%), redwood (8%), red cedar (6%), treaded ponderosa 5%, treated Douglas/hemlock 4, plastic decking 3 and tropical hardwoods only 1 %.
In a study (in 2005) by The Freedonia Group , the demand for decking was projected to increase at a rate of 2.8% per year through 2009 and that despite the increasing alternatives for decking construction, like plastic or aluminum, wood decking will remain the preferred material to produce and repair decks in the U.S. The U.S. decking market will reach $6 billion by 2009. It is estimated that 60% of new homes come with a deck and 4% of all households add a deck each year.
The most important factors in the purchase decision include: quality, durability and installed stability (to reduce the risk of a deck to crash). Cost has an average impact. Tropical hardwoods were ranked as having the least performance problems. It is expected that the use of treated wood will decrease due to regulations in the use of chemicals and because consumer are much more negative toward the use of treated decking (i.e. with chromated copper arsenic – CCA). However, wood plastic decks show fastest growth to gain more market share.
In 2004 the Center for International Trade in Forest Products (CINTRAFOR) performed a study of home builders and deck builders across the U.S. to identified the material most used in decking construction . In general, treated lumber is the preferred material for decking construction with 90% of market share (91.2% of decks use treated lumber in their substructure, 28.3% in the surface, and 27.8% in deck accessories). They also found that the material used in “deck surface applications” was dominated by wood-plastic composite products (39.6% of decks surfaces use this material). Wood-plastic composites are also the preferred material for accessories used in deck construction (29.5%). Synthetic decking materials comprise 15% of decks built now and their number increases by 25% each year.
Although the actual market share for tropical timbers (with high natural durability) for outdoor decking is still very limited, is anticipated to increase significantly and fast as consumers move away from treated wood. In addition this market is very specific to given regions within the US such as California. WPC is the most common species and consumer preferences are for high durable timbers (mainly from from natural forests).