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Belgard anticipates 2018 to be another growth year for the hardscapes industry. According to Oldcastle Business Intelligence reports, construction of single-family homes is expected to grow by 9% next year, presenting a great deal of opportunity for residential hardscapes. In addition, roads and bridges are expected to grow by 6%, which presents opportunities for both permeable interlocking concrete pavements (PICP) and Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge Systems (GRS-IBS). The South and West regions are expected to see the highest rates of construction growth. However, keep in mind that labor costs are also expected to grow by 3-4% nationwide, slightly outpacing the anticipated rate of inflation.
Based on feedback from the Hardscapes North America 2017 tradeshow, neutral tones of gray and tan are expected to continue to be the big sellers, as these tones offer a classic look that complements a wide array of home exterior shades, especially the neutral home exteriors favored in new construction.
Natural textures are expected to remain highly popular, including the slate-like texture of Mega-Lafitt®, the flagstone texture of Mega-Arbel®, the chiseled stone textures of Tandem® Wall, and Belair Wall®.
There is a continued movement towards seamless indoor/outdoor transitions, presenting opportunities for designs incorporating Belgard Porcelain Pavers, which offer matching wall veneer and trim accessories and can be coordinated with the Mirage® line of indoor tiles. There is also a continued movement towards hardscape designs that incorporate cleaner, more contemporary lines, versus natural shapes, specifically with newer homes.
The Millennial generation is also driving a trend towards “greener” outdoor living designs. Various aspects of this include the use of native plants, sustainable landscapes and edible gardens. This trend presents multiple opportunities for the hardscapes industry, including permeable pavement systems that harvest water for recycling and irrigation. In terms of up-sell opportunities for retaining wall products, suggest planters or raised beds near an outdoor kitchen, which would provide the homeowner with a place to grow herbs and vegetables, supporting the garden-to-grill lifestyle.
Belgard has several new products and programs in development, which will be tested and rolled out in various phases throughout the year.
Melville™ face for Tandem® Wall & Tandem® Modular Grid
The Melville face offers smoother, more contemporary lines than the original chiseled Lafitt® face of the Tandem Wall Collection. Look for announcements of the regional release of the Melville face near third quarter of 2018.
This new linear paver offers a natural stone texture in a contemporary layout pattern, combining two of the most popular trends in paver patio design. Laid in a running bond, Agilina is available in two widths and several lengths to create striking patio, walkway and pool deck designs. Currently available in the Northeast Region, it will be introduced in addition markets throughout 2018.
Outdoor Kitchen Packages
Presented in the Belgard Booth at HNA 2017, Belgard is working with outdoor appliance and grill providers to create package kits that will make it easier for contractors to sell and outfit outdoor kitchens. Look for announcements of regional roll-outs of this program, beginning in mid-2018.
Virtual Reality Hardscape Designs
Officially launched at HNA 2017 the 3-D photorealistic hardscape design packages available from the Belgard Design Studio can now include 360-degree views of the design to be viewed by inserting a smart phone into a pair of VR goggles. Virtual Reality designs immerse the homeowner in the design of their future space, allowing them to view it from every angle, increasing desire to complete the job. Belgard anticipates this to be a powerful sales tool in 2018. Belgard Design Studio design packages are free for Belgard Authorized Contractors and available for a nominal charge for contractors and designers who are not authorized partners.