I’ve been in the decking business for about 30 years, both as a contractor working for another business, and after I started my own in the 90’s. I’ve had the opportunity to see, work with and handle a lot of different materials. These include all kinds of wood and synthetic materials. Back in the late 80’s, there were a few different options, and the prices were fair but rather high. Every saw often today, I’ll see one of these decks. The ones still standing from that time were well crafted, have had makeovers of some kind, and/or are typically on their last leg.
The 90’s saw a proliferation of synthetic (composite) boards and material, and the options multiplied. But many of these road the wave of synthethic-so-it-should-last-forever. The problem is that they didn’t last forever, and in my opinion just didn’t look good. The oversaturated market pushed a number of these brands out of business. Wood options expanded (cedar, ipe, etc) and fared fine in terms of aesthetics and improved wood treatment. Many decks still standing from that time on both sides (wood and composite) have been replaced or have gone through a refresh. Many of our customers from this time still enjoy the deck we built for them or have taken advantage of the increased value when they sold their home.
The aughts (2000s) saw an improvement on both sides (wood and composites), with quality generally improving and prices falling. I saw a big improvement in my industry all around, in terms of design, construction, and materials. There were some impressive decks that went up then, and most are still up today. With improved treatment and preservation options, some decking manufacturers went back to wood options. I liked the shift as we are proponents of wood decks for many reasons, all of which favor homeowners. We also started Tailored-Wood during this period.
With the continued economic turmoil of the 2010’s, there has been a general decrease in homeowner discretionary income. This, combined with an increase in the number of people looking for work and building decks on the side, really cut into service quality. That is, even with continued improvement in the materials (some really attractive wood today can last for decades), a lot of deck builders who really didn’t have a background in building decks have put up some lower quality structures in my opinion. This is a general rule though and there are a lot of exceptions.
The chaos in the marketing is due to the rapid increase in competitive marketing for deck builders and materials. Websites, social media, online advertising…with most contractors touting high quality at unbelievable pricing. I can see how a homeowner (or even contractor) just starting out can be overloaded with options and misinformation. I think options are good for any construction project you get into. But we always recommend doing a thorough check before you invest in a good deck or materials. I don’t see the number of options shrinking, which is good for the market. But make sure you get the truly best you can. With good checks and balance, this should keep our industry growing and improving.
We are the manufacturer and distributor of Tailored-Wood, Athens, GA deck wood manufacturer. If you’re in the Northeast Georgia area, be sure to check out are decking products and order ahead.