Tubes that won't get soggy

Unlike conventional cardboard tubes used for forming concrete piers, Bigfoot's new 8-inch-diameter plastic tubes don't get soggy after prolonged contact with damp soil or rain.

Made from recycled high-density polyethylene, the 4-foot-long BFT 8 has four interlocking sections that can be collapsed for more convenient transport.

The BFT 8 can snap onto two sizes of the company's conical footing forms, the BF 20 and the BF 24, and comes with a safety top to keep out dirt and rain before concrete is poured. Each tube retails for about $11.

In addition to having product information, the company's website includes charts for allowable loads in different types of soils, plus a concrete calculator.

Scott Gibson is a writer in East Waterboro, Maine.

Bigfoot Systems, 800/934-0393,

Bamboo Composite Decking

Made from all recycled materials

Cali Bamboo, a California-based company specializing in bamboo building products, is now selling decking made from a bamboo composite, of which 30 percent is recycled bamboo fibers and 70 percent is recycled plastics.

According to the company, termite-resistant BamDeck Composite is more than twice as dense and twice as strong as other composite decking and never needs sealing, painting, or refinishing.

The decking complies with the slip-resistance standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, absorbs only 10 percent as much water as competing composite decking, and burns more slowly than red oak.

It comes in three colors: caramel, slate, and coffee. Planks have both a smooth and a ribbed side - allowing several installation options - and a grooved edge for use with concealed fasteners.

Deck boards are 96 inches long, 5 1/2 inches wide, and 3/4 inch thick. They're designed for a maximum on-center joist spacing of 16 inches.

The decking, which is eligible for LEED green-building points, costs about $3 per lineal foot. It's available nationally and comes with a 10-year commercial and 25-year residential guarantee. - S.G.

Cali Bamboo, 888/788-2254,

PVC Deck Lattice

Designs to suit unique interests

After an unsuccessful search for decorative panels that had something other than a standard lattice pattern for his own deck, Marcus McAvoy launched Acurio Latticeworks in Washington, Ga.

The company produces a wide variety of 1/4-inch-thick panels manufactured from expanded polyvinyl chloride, in 10 colors, including black, white, green, red, blue, and yellow.

Intended for use as deck skirting and fence panels, and in arbors and gazebos, the panels come in dozens of designs: geometric patterns, animals, coastal themes, trees, and leaves - anything from stars or poodles to golfers or dolphins. Acurio will also produce panels using customer-supplied designs.

The 4-foot-by-8-foot panels can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. They start at $76 per panel in black or white. - S.G.

Acurio Latticeworks, 800/218-0415,

Custom Cable Railings

In-house design services

Looking for help in designing a wrought-iron or cable-railing system for a deck? Keuka Studios, a New York state company, offers a variety of styles, plus in-house design.

The company's product line includes five standard cable-rail posts, including the graceful Keuka (shown below), the company's signature design. All can be fascia- or surface-mounted, and all come in 36-inch and 42-inch heights for residential and commercial applications. Other heights can be custom ordered.

Posts come in powder-coated steel in six finishes - pewter, oil-rubbed bronze, sparkling silver, silver vein, white, and black - as well as brushed stainless steel.

Rail systems are built in the U.S., and the company says it makes every effort to source supplies from companies based in the U.S. Recycled materials are used where possible.

In addition to stock posts, Keuka sells a full line of fittings for cable rail systems.

Rail systems are built to order rather than kept in stock. Keuka also produces custom post designs and will supply 3D renderings of proposed rail systems. Prices depend on the complexity of the installation but start at about $100 a linear foot. - S.G.

Keuka Studios, 855/454-5678,