In view of the buoyant garden products market and the popularity of wood within that, the material itself was surprisingly thin on the ground at this year’s DIY & Garden Show. However, what the show may have lacked in timber, it made up for with an abundance of woodcare specialists, all of whom reported healthy business.

In fact, the show was almost dominated by the impressive ICI Paints stand. Attracting a lot of attention were the Cuprinol products which included a launch for this year – Rollable Decking Treatment. The product is set to build on the success of Cuprinol’s Rollable Shed and Fence Treatment. “We had been concerned that the rollable fencing treatment would take market share from Timbercare,” said customer business manager Jeremy Ireland Jones, “but they have both brought in considerable sales.

“Rollable has captured the market for people short of time because it can be applied twice as quickly as with a brush and only needs one coat. The rollable decking treatment was launched at GLEE last year and has won numerous awards without even hitting a season yet.

“The decking market is now the fastest growing area of garden woodcare, currently worth £6m at retail, up 47% in 2003, and the established and growing popularity of decking is reflected in the increasing demand for decking woodcare products.”

Strongest growth

Mr Ireland Jones reports strong growth across garden products. “While the interiors market is fairly static, sales for our decking products are up 15% and garden furniture products have risen 11% in the last 12 months”.

Other products taking the stand included Garden Furniture Cleaner – now available in a “grocery-style” spray bottle – and handy Garden Furniture Wipes which are impregnated with wax and orange oil.

Another of the woodcare sector’s major players, Ronseal, also had a strong presence at the show.

Big sellers for the company have been its quick drying woodstain, its Fencelife protection for rough sawn timber and its wax enriched Garden Furniture and Hardwood Furniture stains for smooth planed garden wood.

On the decking front it has just expanded its range for 2004 with six colours in its Heavy Duty Decking Stain, ranging from Canadian cedar to Spanish mahogany and five (including clear) in its Decking Oil. According to Ronseal’s Tim Denholm, decking products are expected to be a key growth area this year.

Blackfriar Paints Ltd was displaying Timba Dura, a woodstain made from natural ingredients including beeswax and linseed oil. The product dries to a soft finish, is water repellent, semi-transparent and allows the timber to breathe. Available in six colours, it has proved popular for use on stables and chalets. “More people are moving towards a natural product – and lighter stains,” said Blackfriar’s Jacinta Harrigan.

It’s also finding a good market in the decking sector. “People who have purchased decking are now anxious to maintain it,” she added. “We’ve seen a big increase in sales of our woodcare products.”

Exterior oils

Liberon has also noticed consumers spending more on timber garden furniture and has seen sales of its exterior oils grow as a result. Products on show included its Garden Furniture Oil, which can be used on treated or untreated timber, and its Decking Oil.

The ban on creosote for consumer use has resulted in a number of alternative treatments. Creoseal Ltd was displaying its eponymous original alternative to creosote. Initial sales for the preservative treatment were sluggish as consumers were slow to realise that creosote was no longer available but the market has picked up and, as director Peter Middleton said: “It’s been a good show for us with lots of orders and contracts”.

Creoseal is available in shades of nut brown and light brown and can now be applied with a brush or a roller.

Other companies launching creosote substitutes at the show were Palace Chemicals Ltd/Langlow, RK & Jones (Bird Brand) and Bartoline Ltd. The latter was also launching teak oil in 500ml trigger spray pack, making application much easier. “Sales of teak oil have increased massively in recent years, largely due to the lower cost and wider availability of hardwood garden furniture,” said Bartoline’s sales director Mark Tingay.