Overview

One of the newest areas for vinyl in the building and construction industry is fencing, decking and railing. Vinyl fences are available in traditional and innovative designs, while for decks and railings vinyl is increasingly replacing traditional materials like wood and metals in residential, commercial and agricultural applications. Remarkable product characteristics are driving the demand for these types of vinyl outdoor living products. Also, the rising cost of lumber has driven more and more specifiers and consumers to look for alternatives to wood. Even though vinyl alternatives still have a higher initial cost today, the lower lifecycle cost due to lower maintenance needs makes vinyl a cost-effective choice.

Vinyl fencing can look just like any ordinary whitewashed wood fence and comes in standard styles such as ranch, crossbuck, post and rail, and picket.

Manufacturers have broadened choices to include colors such as tan and gray and fencing styles now include scalloped edges, plank styles for privacy, lattice top styles and more. There is a low maintenance vinyl-fencing alternative for virtually every fencing variation, except chain link.

Vinyl decking has all the components of a wood deck including planks, rails and steps. Its appearance is quite different from wood, though; its overall smooth surface is etched to provide slip resistance, and because it is primarily manufactured in three colors - white, tan or gray - vinyl decking can more closely color match the exterior treatment of a building or house.

Vinyl railing is similar in appearance to metal or wood railing. It can look like the tube railing that is attached to handicapped-accessible ramps or the railing that lines balconies of skyrise apartment buildings, or even the railing that is found around a typical backyard deck. Beyond the standard look, however, vinyl railing is made in several different styles, including colonial, contemporary, and other custom styles to meet specifiers' needs.

Uses for vinyl fencing, decking and railing are broad. Vinyl railing is increasingly found on or in commercial buildings, condominiums, hotels and even world-renowned amusement parks such as Universal Studios and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Vinyl fencing is used at U.S. military bases, international airports and on farms and ranches. Vinyl fencing can also be found at such places as the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Arrowhead Stadium - home of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Within the residential market, vinyl fencing is becoming a popular landscape feature at the entrance to new subdivisions, and is being used as landscape ornamentation in the front yards of many homes. Vinyl decking can increasingly be found in neighborhood backyards across the country. Homeowners are drawn to vinyl decking for the same product characteristics as fencing and railing.

At the same time that vinyl fencing, decking and railing are growing in popularity, other outdoor vinyl products are also gaining market share in applications such as marine docks, arbors, shade pergolas (an arbor with lattice-type roof) and trellises. For clarity, the use of the phrase vinyl "outdoor living products" in this document refers to vinyl fencing, decking and railing.