As homeowners continue to view their backyards as retreats and expansions of their living rooms, decking is one of the popular methods to transform these outdoor living spaces.
Wood decking is still the most popular material, but composites are predicted to gain five points of market share in the coming years, according to the research group Principia. Consumers are looking for good looking decking that requires little maintenance and will last for decades.
These traits are easily met by composite decking, but the difficult part of the process is when the homeowner must choose between different material colors and textures as well as pricing. Closing the sale can be a downright nightmare for contractors at times as composites tend to offer an overwhelming number of product choices.
Some leading suppliers may have five or six deck boards with three to five colors and three length choices, while others try to simplify the process by limiting certain colors to specific price points or performance levels.
Yet this type of limitation leads to frustration and uncertainty and even once the client has made a decision that can still be out of luck if their selected decking product doesn’t match the performance or price of another within the supplier’s line.
“Every job is custom,” said Ron Porasik, co-owner of Screwheads Decking in Racine, Wisconsin, along with his brother Greg. “It always starts with asking questions and then figuring out what the customer wants. Sometimes I feel like a marriage counselor reconciling differences between couples and then helping them make a decision based on budget, entertainment goals and looks.”
One of the ways manufacturers are helping overcome this issue is by sending the customer color and product options they are interested in to their home. DuraLife Decking and Railing is one of the companies that does this and ships complementary decking samples in any combination of profile, color or collection to the homeowner.
Customers can choose three nearly 6-inch squares of miniature deck board from any of the company’s Siesta or MVP profiles in a choice of four variegated, wood grain patterns or the four earth tones: Pebble, Coastal Grey, Mahogany and Slate.
Research has shown that 60 to 70 percent of leads are successful when the customer has thoroughly explored their decking options and has taken the time to review their choices with their significant other in the privacy of their own home instead of a showroom floor.
“I’m for anything that removes as much guesswork out of the process as possible,” Porasik said. “Customers that have a good idea of the type of decking they want and the amount they want to spend before I arrive really simplifies the entire equation. It also leaves me to do what I do best and that’s the design and building of decks.”
Porasik has been building decks for nearly 20 years and knows that having an educated client can be a godsend.
“Design I can do,” he said. “But, it always helps if the customers narrow down their deck board choices before the process even begins. I strongly urge customers to do their research and reach out to manufacturers that can aid their decision-making by sending samples of any or all of their products. This will allow them to experience the color, look, feel and finish for themselves and truly be comfortable with their ultimate choice.”