Hardscaping Sales Boosted by Growing Use of Higher Value Materials in Outdoor Living Areas

Hardscaping Sales Boosted by Growing Use of Higher Value Materials in Outdoor Living Areas

The US market for hardscaping materials continues to benefit from growing preferences for natural stone, stamped concrete, and other higher value products that enhance the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces.

In particular, the growing popularity of outdoor living – which exploded during the socially distanced pandemic era – is driving consumer interest in materials that can unify indoor-outdoor aesthetics for a seamless transition between spaces. (Think stone patio pavers that match the flooring in an adjoining interior room, or using the same stone tiling in the backsplashes of both indoor and outdoor kitchens.)

Additionally, other pandemic-related trends – such as the spike in home gardening activity – will lead to a short-term boost for higher value plastic and composite lumber, which is increasingly competitive with traditional wood for raised garden beds and other hardscaping applications due to its longer lifespan.

A new Freedonia Group analysis projects US demand for hardscaping products to rise 3.3% per year to $3.9 billion in 2025. Below, we highlight key material trends that are expected to boost market value through the forecast period.

Able to Resemble Wood & Stone, Concrete Planks & Slabs Breathe New Life into Mature Segment

While basic concrete pavers will continue to dominate the hardscaping market due to their low cost, the growing availability of value-added concrete planks and slabs that imitate the appearance of higher value materials like stone and wood will bolster sales. For example:

  • Precast concrete slabs, usually square or rectangular pieces of concrete that are larger than typical pavers, offer a more modern aesthetic for backyards and commercial spaces, but face that compete with other paving products, notably stone tile. Though expected to grow at an above average rate through 2025, even greater gains will be limited by competition from stone tile, as well as other new paving products like planks, as well as poured concrete versions.
  • Concrete planks are a niche but fast growing product used in many outdoor areas similar to pavers. Like precast concrete slabs, planks offer the same benefits as surfaces covered with traditional pavers, but provide a different, more modern look that is more representative of hardwoods.

While more expensive than traditional concrete pavers, both of these products offer faster installation times, as they are larger and fewer units per area results in labor savings.

Superior Aesthetics Give Rock & Stone Advantage in Upscale Outdoor Living Installations

Rock and stone will continue to benefit from the outdoor living trend of adding hardscaped areas with higher value finishes that bring indoors aesthetics outside. The superior aesthetics of natural stone in particular makes it especially popular in upscale outdoor living hardscape installations, where cost is less of a factor:

  • Rock and stone can be used to pave patio and walkway surfaces and as outdoor kitchen flooring. It is also used as veneer in outdoor kitchen facades, retaining walls, and fire pits and fireplaces.
  • The types of natural stone most commonly used in hardscaping include granite, sandstone, and limestone, though continued transition of indoor style trends is driving increased use of higher value stones like travertine.
  • Additionally, the growing array of manufactured stone products – including those that resemble more types of stone – and the development of design tools that aide consumers and professionals in the development of outdoor spaces which may persuade more consumers to opt for faux stone.

Pandemic-Related Surge in Gardening Benefits Wood & Value-Added Plastic & Composite Lumber

Lumber (including wood, plastic, and composite types) will benefit from its use in several hardscaping applications, especially raised garden beds, as gardening activity – which spiked during the pandemic – is expected to remain elevated, at least in the short term. Lumber is a widely used frame material for site-built raised garden beds. It is also a popular material for retaining walls because of its natural aesthetic.

While wood lumber is the dominant material for wood hardscaping, plastic and composite lumber will continue to find a share of the market due to its better resistance to damage and low maintenance requirements:

  • While more expensive than wood initially, composite lumber and plastic lumber can provide long-term savings because of their longer lifespans and minimal maintenance requirements.
  • Composite and plastic lumber is used primarily for edging and borders, raised beds, retaining walls, and walkways.

Composite and plastic lumber continues to see healthy growth as an alternative to traditional wood lumber in hardscaping, although wood, concrete, and stone will continue to dominate in most applications where it is used.

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About the Author: Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.