Trend Report: What’s hot now in outdoor living

Summer is finally here – a well-deserved reward after a winter for the record books. Here are the hot trends in deck design and décor that we’re seeing this season.

Outdoor living is (still) in

Really so much more than a trend, outdoor living is our new way of … well, living. Used for eating, entertaining, watching television, and so much more, today’s decks have truly become extensions of indoor spaces.

  • Hot tubs, sound systems, fireplaces and even full kitchens (if the budget allows) are still popular -- and paying dividends in terms of increased comfort and functionality.
  • Multi-level decks with designated areas for cooking, eating, or relaxing are in high demand. Curved angles, custom staircases, and built-ins galore add visual interest as well as provide creative solutions for challenging spaces.
  • Gazebos and screened-in porches keep decks dry and bug-free, while retractable awnings provide protection against the hot summer sun.
  • Colorful fabrics and high-quality furnishings lend the same style and sophistication to the deck as they do to the home. “Marsala” may have been the Pantone color for 2015, but summer décor seems to lend itself naturally to nautical navy and white, often punctuated by pops of bright red or orange. Other perennial favorites: tropical palettes featuring hot pink, lime green, and lemon yellow, or classic black and white color schemes accented with bright turquoise or lime green.
A smooth transition plan: hidden fasteners are everywhere

To keep the transition from indoors to outdoors as seamless as possible, homeowners are using hidden fastener systems with their decking. Special clips attach to the sides of pre-grooved boards to secure the decking to the substructure. There’s no need for surface screws or nails, so the deck is smooth and free of indentations, nail pops, and other distractions. With hidden fasteners, outside flooring is as polished as inside flooring. It’s a smart idea that’s quickly becoming the industry standard.

Composite decking gains new fans among busy homeowners

As consumers are repurposing their decks, they are also reconsidering their decking materials. Composite decking is gaining new fans all the time. Two principle reasons are its low maintenance requirements and high proportion of recycled content, according to industry analyst group Principia. Homeowners simply don’t have the time or inclination to spend their weekends refinishing or repainting decks and railing.

Composite decking never needs staining, sanding or refinishing

Capped composites are highly resistant to mold, stains, fading and scratching, and require little more than an occasional cleaning with soap and water. Plus, using wood waste and recycled plastics (both of which we use in Fiberon decking), diverts tens of thousands of pounds of discarded materials from landfills and incinerators each year — something any eco-conscious consumer can appreciate.

A splash of color; a pop of personality

So what are the popular colors in composite deck boards? Here again, the color muse is seaside living. There’s growing interest in gray and sandy-gray tones, although demand for deck boards that mimic exotic hardwoods hasn’t waned. (At Fiberon, our Horizon Ipe board remains the hands-down customer favorite.)

When it comes to deck design, homeowners are injecting drama and personality in several ways:

  • Using two or more board colors together within a single space.
  • Adding an inset design to create a focal point.
  • “Picture-framing” a deck by installing darker boards around the perimeter.
Bright ideas for illuminating spaces

While candles will always be an easy go-to for adding ambiance (of course, never leave any lit candle unattended), more and more deck plans now include an integrated lighting solution.

Post lighting (cap or sleeve) can be used to highlight specific areas or brighten the entire deck. Riser lights on stairs or accent lights mounted flush around the perimeter improve safety and inject some drama. Low-voltage options consume minimal amounts of energy and can usually be installed easily by a builder. No electrician needed.

What’s hot in deck railing

When you think of unpleasant, time-consuming outdoor chores, re-painting wooden ailing has to top the list. It’s no surprise, then, that interest in composite deck railing continues to grow. And today’s homeowners know what they want:  matte finishes, wood-like appearance, and infill options galore.

Symmetry Railing from Fiberon: a high-end look that’s delightfully low maintenance

When it comes to “must-haves,” Symmetry Railing checks off every box. It features an on-trend, matte white finish (by the way, more colors are in the works), it looks and feels like wood, and it works with traditional square balusters, round metal balusters, clear acrylic panels, and cable rail.

On the more technical side, Symmetry Railing features:

  • Rail lengths up to 12 feet for a more open backyard view
  • Easy installation, even on stairs
  • Sturdy aluminum sub-rail for added strength and stability
  • Hidden hardware for a clean, upscale look
Deck design tech

And since no trend post would be complete without something digital, here’s what’s hot in the decking world: online design tools. Designed for tablets and laptops, these tools are an easy, fun way to test design ideas or map out your deck space before consulting a contractor. The Fiberon Deck Design Tool, for example, lets you upload a photo of your home and then plan the deck space from boards to railings to lighting and grill placement. You can print out a detailed materials list right down to the number of fasteners needed, and find contact information for qualified local contractors.


Visit to test out this fun tool, or browse our Contractor Gallery for more decking inspiration.