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Team Spotlight: Outdoor Living + Decking Tips From Our Specialists

Jul 31, 2023


Talbert has always been committed to helping builders and homeowners plan their dream home design. And ever since Mike Miller, Director of Outdoor Living Products with over 20 years of experience, created our Outdoor Living department, we’ve offered support for our customers who need ideas and solutions for their home exteriors and spaces.

We’ve been fortunate as we continue to grow, and we recently hired another Outdoor Living Specialist to ensure the success of our customers and their outdoor projects.

Bigger Teams, Better Outdoor Living Spaces


Mike Miller runs Talbert’s Outdoor Living program, along with his team of specialists, which includes Justin Cox and our newest Talbert team member, Ryan Wyble.

“We’re there to assist homeowners, contractors, and walk-ins to the Talbert stores on a daily basis,” Mike says. “We provide product knowledge and help customers determine which product is the best fit for their projects”.

There has been a rise in outdoor living projects in the last several years, a trend that has carried over since the pandemic — and we’re expecting this trend to both continue and evolve. According to the National Association for Homebuilders, “The future of outdoor living will look different from traditional backyards as more external challenges arise, but the importance of connecting to the outdoors remains a top design consideration for designers and consumers alike.”

Part of what keeps Talbert’s customers coming back for help with their outdoor projects is our commitment to service and our experience with building products and trends. “We’re here to provide design services to homeowners who might not really know what they want. Many customers are working with existing decks and want an upgrade,” says Mike. “We try to make that process easier for everyone involved.”

During that process, our Outdoor Living Specialists are there to support customers. Ryan, our newest team member, is eager to share what he’s learned after owning a deck-building business for a decade. “I really feel like I joined an elite team — and being able to give customers the knowledge they need, whether they’re contractors or homeowners, is rewarding. We can support how they buy products and build their projects.”

What’s Trending in Outdoor Design


Outdoor living is a hot topic, but there are some consistent trends that deserve attention. “Different markets have different trends,” explains Mike. “White composite PVC handrails are big in New England homes, for example. And aluminum rails are popular in the Southeast.”

But manufacturers have developed new products, and changes in supply availability can influence outdoor living trends on a broader level. Here’s what we’re noticing:

Composite Materials

There are a few overarching trends throughout all regions that we’ve noticed, and composite decking is especially popular. “We’re really converting people from wood-treated decks to composite decking,” says Mike. “Composite materials will minimize maintenance, and composite decking has been growing in market share — they are consistently coming out with better-looking products, better warranties, and better performance.”

Low-Maintenance Products

However, not everyone wants a wood alternative, and Ryan has consulted homeowners for more than 10 years about their decking options. “People will still love wood,” he says, “and won’t mind maintenance.”

But many customers want something that will last for as long as they’re in the home. “More homeowners are shifting toward a product with lower upkeep, something you can just spray with a hose on occasion,” says Ryan. “That’s where there’s a shift to composite products.”

Options for Railing

Building products manufacturers know that homeowners need an array of options, especially if they’re designing their dream home. That means many homeowners are looking for custom options, even when it comes to details like railing. “Cable railing is continuously growing as a product,” says Mike. “It seems like every railing manufacturer offers a cable railing now.”

There are numerous trends in outdoor living right now, but there is one guarantee — there will be plenty of options for homeowners to work with. “There’s just a massive influx of new companies offering newer things trying to give more options for homeowners,” says Ryan.

Outdoor DIY Projects


Another trend is DIY projects, which might not come as a surprise. According to building industry data from HIRI, “rough­ly one-third of projects over­all are com­plet­ed entire­ly by pro­fes­sion­als, while near­ly half of projects are tru­ly DIY.”

For major projects like a new deck, Talbert has seen that more customers want a contractor. “For something like resurfacing a deck, there’s a 50/50 chance they will DIY,” explains Justin.

Talbert works directly with customers who are going the DIY route to help them select a process and materials for their project. “Pretty much what the homeowner is comfortable with, we’ll support,” explains Justin. That includes reaching out to manufacturers and providing customers with manufacturing guidelines and installation instructions.

“We really do want the end user to have the information they need and to not have warranty issues in the future,” says Mike. “And we can refer homeowners to a contractor who has experience with a product.”

Starting Your Next Outdoor Project

If you’re itching to start working on your outdoor area, you’re in luck. Talbert consults on a variety of projects and loves a walk-in customer. “We have an extensive display area for outdoor living,” says Mike. “There are at least 25 different handrail options!”

Talbert’s customer service is hands-on, and our team will work with customers throughout the entire design and building process to ensure its success. “Talbert will guide customers through the offerings available, educate them on the products, [and] explain the pros, cons, and pricing options,” Mike explains.

From there, we will work from design drawings that customers have or do a home visit and help with measurements. “You can take home samples and pick which one you want in the comfort of your home, too,” continues Mike.

Contractors also love working with Talbert, and our team will help with plans and material takeoffs at no extra charge. “We want to give them support because contractors have to wear a lot of hats,” Mike explains.

To take a look at some of the outdoor living products we offer, head over to our product page. For more ideas and inspiration, come visit one of our locations. We can’t wait to assist you with your outdoor living project — contact us today to get started!