Is the composite decking industry in need of a labeling program that rates the performance of individual deck board products?

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), Quakertown, Pennsylvania, believes that it is. Not only is the deck industry in vital need of such a program, according to Mike Beaudry, executive vice president of the association, the time to move forward is now.

Based on this belief, the association is currently seeking active industry support for a Consumer Product Awareness Charter (CPAC) program, first proposed at an industry conference over two years ago, that calls for testing, product performance rating, independent validation and product labeling for all composite decking. The proposed decking label program is being modeled after the performance rating system of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), which rates the performance of fenestration products in such areas as solar heat gain and light transmittance. CPAC test protocols are being developed and the program currently envisions testing decking products on solar retention, fade, end and edge swell, and slip resistance.

CPAC Label
Solar Retention – Degrees/Fahrenheit 100 to 170
Fade – Delta/E 1 to 10
End Swell/Edge Swell – Percentage 0 to 5
Slip-Resistance – Coefficient of Friction (COF) Best to Worst

“Right now, the decking industry has nothing,” says Beaudry. Consumers, he says, have to rely on the good faith of manufacturers. There are no validated performance ratings that would allow buyers to easily compare product features and select the most appropriate product for their intended use.

“Our goal,” Beaudry adds, “is to create an industry label that rates product performance features,
educates consumers so they can make knowledgeable product selections, and becomes a recognized seal of approval or quality. We want to promote the position to consumers that if you don’t see the CPAC label on the back of the board, don’t buy it.”

Is product labeling really necessary? Most players in the deck industry seem to agree that a performance labeling program would support the long term growth of the composite decking industry. The question is: does the industry really need it at this point.

For deck dealers and deck builders, the answer is a resounding, yes!
“We absolutely need it,” says David Elenbaum, owner of DeckStore in Simpsonville, S.C., and co-chair of the CPAC program effort. “It’s critically important to the consumer. I own a store where we sell eight different brands of products. People walk in and they want to know the performance differences, not only between brands, but between the product lines from a specific manufacturer. If they’re looking for a composite deck for around a swimming pool, they want to know which products offer the highest slip resistance. If their deck will receive lots of sunshine, they’re looking for products that have lower solar retention characteristics. We don’t have the data to help them make a decision. All we can do is give them a brochure and tell them to pick out a color.”
Deck dealers and builders are saying that a performance
rating system would be extremely useful in directing
consumers to products that best meet their specific needs,
whether it be the best deck product for a pool deck, or
the most appropriate choice for a south facing project.
The industry marketing literature in this regard, admits Lanny Jass, president of Green Bay Decking in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is “completely unhelpful.” A performance rating program, Jass believes, would be a huge positive. “Such a program is way overdue,” he says. “Standardize a set of tests for every deck product, certify the results and make them public.”
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