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US demand for decking is projected to advance 2.2 percent per year through 2011 to 3.6 billion lineal feet, valued at $5.6 billion.
Growth will be similar to the 2001 to 2006 period, despite a weaker new housing outlook. The decking market is relatively stable because more than 85 percent of demand is generated through improvement and repair activity, which is inherently less cyclical than the new construction market. New markets will offer more mixed prospects. Gains in new non-residential construction activity will accelerate, while new residential and non-building construction spending are expected to cool, limiting decking gains. These and other trends are presented in “”Wood & Competitive Decking,”” a new study from The Freedonia Group.
The U.S. decking market has seen a shift in product mix in recent years. In 1996, wood decking materials accounted for 95 percent of volume demand, with only minimal use of alternative decking materials such as wood-plastic composites, vinyl and polyethylene. Over the course of the past decade, alternative materials replaced natural wood materials at a rapid pace. In 2006, alternative decking materials in the aggregate accounted for 17 percent of the 3.3 billion lineal feet of decking.
Alternative decking materials will continue to lead the decking market in terms of yearly gains through 2011, further eroding the market share of wood materials. Wood-plastic composite decking will provide the strongest growth opportunity, fuelled by its high durability and low maintenance requirements, as well as by product advances that provide a more realistic wood appearance. Plastic decking materials will also show strong growth through 2011. Vinyl, polyethylene and other resin-based products will benefit from many of the same performance characteristics as composites.
Through 2011, wood decking is expected to see a slight decline in demand, restrained by growing competition from alternative materials and by ongoing concern over the safety of preservatives used to treat wood. An anticipated weakness in new housing, a key market for wood decking, will also hamper growth. Nevertheless, wood will remain the dominant material used to produce decks in the U.S. going forward and continue to benefit from its good reputation and its aesthetic appeal.
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