CPG Building Products

As summer approaches after a rough winter in many regions of the country, homeowners are feverishly beginning to plan for their outdoor living spaces. As a focal point of warm weather entertainment, an outdoor living space can become a luxurious retreat, given the right materials, designs and amenities. Knowing how to approach customers to get them involved in the design process can spur the imagination—and projects can expand and get more creative.

One way to open up the design conversation with homeowners is to explain that when maintenance and frequent repair are taken out of the equation, the design possibilities become limitless. And approaching customers with the outdoor room concept instead of just the plain deck or patio can help homeowners to think big, bold and beautiful. So whether the design space is intimate or large and multi-leveled, using the newest low-maintenance deck and railing materials ensures the customer's investment will pay off with an outdoor space that exceeds their wildest dreams.

Most dealers across the country agree with this approach and find that the new capped composite decking products offer an extra layer of protection to resist staining, fading and scratching while cellular pvc decking offers the broadest color choices with stain- and scratch-resistance. Today's durable products give customers more freedom to be creative and put some artistry into their backyard projects. But whatever product they choose, any of these decking options provide the perfect backdrop for elaborate outdoor kitchens and rooms that bring the comforts of the indoors to the great outdoors.

Across the country, deck builders are taking deck design to the extreme as they present unique and individual features in their decks that will surprise and delight their customers, such as outdoor theaters, built-in bench sound systems and hidden deck storage compartments. And, with the goal of enhancing their customers' outdoor experiences, with an upscale look or low maintenance, contractors always look for the best, most durable decking materials such as composites and cellular pvc.

Moving beyond the deck surfaces, another way to turn up the style in deck design is to help the customer understand the importance that railing plays in the final design. Along with providing safety, railings can also influence the design. And, when there are breathtaking views outside the deck, there are several options to unclutter the view, including cable railing and glass panels. Sleek, stainless steel cable railing provides an improved view and serves as a contemporary design element with very little maintenance. For the ultimate view of lush scenery, there are kits to integrate glass panels into the railing for a design that nearly disappears from sight. If a more traditional railing is preferred, longer railing sections of up to 10 ft. are available that provide the same safety as traditional shorter rail sections. To enhance traditional railings, decorative in-fills, such as square or round metal balusters, offer a sleek stylish option.

To complete the outdoor space, deck lighting can enhance the outdoor experience for customers, as well as serve as a design element. With the warm glow of perfectly balanced lighting integrated into an outdoor living space, home owners get added beauty along with extended hours of deck enjoyment and safety. According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as a desirable element of their deck. Recent lighting innovations include post cap lights that generate a warm glow around the deck's railing, under the handrail lighting, subtle surface lights that install flush into the deck boards, and stair riser lights for improved safety.

Increasingly, contractors are relying on advanced software as well as manufacturers' online design tools, including color visualizers and iPad apps to make customer collaboration easy. Seeing a small swatch of decking or railing doesn't really paint a picture of how it's going to look on an entire deck. With online visualization tools, customers can experiment with different colors of decking and railing infill options. This helps the contractor guide the homeowner through the selection of product and color choices for their home's exterior — often down to the selection of which fire pit to purchase.

Regardless of the extra amenities or the railing infill chosen, when combined with time-tested composite or cellular pvc decking, a well-designed and well-built outdoor living space can bring any customers' outdoor dream space to life while offering the comfort that this investment will reward them for many years to come.

Articles in Design, Outdoor Living, Trends | June 01, 2014