By Larry Light, CBS MONEYWATCH

Is that outdoor deck under your feet real wood, or something else? Summer is peak season for building decks, and makers of synthetic wood are pushing to expand their small market share against long-dominant natural wood.

According to new research, the synthetics — whose major selling point is superior durability — have a decent shot at making inroads on all-tree lumber. Right now, synthetics command about 16 percent of the $7 billion deck market. But a recent study by Principia Consulting found that they’re growing at a faster rate, 5 percent annually versus 3 percent.

Bolstering the rise in deck building, synthetic or not, is a comeback in the housing market since the Great Recession and a surge in enthusiasm for home renovations. That rests on a growing yen among homeowners for increased “outdoor living,” meaning more people want to spend time relaxing and playing right outside their own homes, preferably in a comfortable area with furniture and even a kitchen. You can look up at the sky, breathe in the warm breeze and then easily go into the den to watch TV.

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