Composite decking manufacturers beef up their offerings with wood-look colors.

With a 6% to 8% share of the decking market, composites and other plastic wood alternatives still have a long way to go. But with more manufacturers unveiling wood lookalikes that promise the maintenance-free lifestyle homeowners crave, the product lines are receiving a lot of attention and many predict the category faces steady growth. During the past few years, the market has been flooded with a number of new companies, and product choice is not slowing, thanks to new color introductions designed to mimic high-end woods. Many manufacturers now offer a palette of three or more hues appealing to a range of tastes, from weathered grays to rich reds and browns reminiscent of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

And while many of the first decking products unveiled during the past few years were designed to weather much like the wood they replicate, some manufacturers found that not all homeowners wanted their decks to fade. "A lot of consumers want 'What you see is what you get.' If it's red, they want it to stay red. If it's gray, they want it to stay gray," says Steve Weinstein, director of marketing for LP's WeatherBest. "That's why there's a proliferation of new colors on the market that are fade resistant."

In response, many of the new colors are engineered to remain closer to their original color. As with any material exposed to the sun, the decking planks will fade slightly, but UV stabilizers and other additives, similar to those you might find in vinyl siding, are keeping some colors closer to true.

So whether your clients want New England-style coastal gray, Western rustic cedar, or a rich redwood, there are plenty of options that won't need staining, won't fade away, and won't give them splinters.

Trex. The company's wood-plastic composite decking line is now available in Saddle, a deep tan color that will weather slightly while maintaining rich tones. The decking also comes in Natural, Winchester Grey, Woodland Brown, and reddish-brown Madeira. (800) 289-8739.

CertainTeed. Made from weatherable PVC and recycled wood, Boardwalk composite decking is durable, fastens like wood, and will not rot, decay, crack, or splinter. The product features a smooth, even-textured face and carries a Class A fire rating. (800) 233-8990.

CorrectDeck. CorrectDeck polypropylene and wood composite decking is available in Natural, Cedar, and Gray. Cedar and Gray will fade slowly; Natural will fade like wood in about 12 to 16 weeks. The planks come in 12-, 16-, and 20-foot lengths. (207) 284-5600.

Owens Corning. The Generations composite decking line comes in Khaki, White, Tan, and Gray, with matching accessories. The line also includes low-maintenance fencing and railing. All three lines, which are being rolled out regionally, come with a limited lifetime warranty. (800) 438-7465.

Weyerhaeuser. ChoiceDek Plus is manufactured with a compound of oak wood fiber and recycled polyethylene, offering low-maintenance, moisture-resistance, and a natural wood-look tone. The material, which has a textured surface, can be cut and installed with standard tools. (800) 951-5117.

TimberTech. The composite decking line is available in Natural, Grey, and Cedar. Made of recycled wood and virgin plastic, the decking offers the look of wood but will not rot, warp, splinter, or decay. (800) 307-7780.

LP. WeatherBest composite decking, now available in Basic, Select, and Premium lines, cuts, drills, and fastens like wood but will not crack, splinter, or split. WeatherBest Premium features reversible boards in Western Redwood (shown), Driftwood Grey, and Pacific Cedar. Matching railing is available. (877) 446-3030.

Nexwood. Composite decking is crafted with a patented extrusion process that combines plastic and cellulose, offering the look and stiffness of wood and the insect-resistance and low moisture absorption of plastic. The CoreTech design allows the planks to span 24 inches on center. The lumber features a wood-like textured surface and comes in Driftwood Grey, Sierra Brown, and Sequoia Red. (888) 763-9966.