Arbordeck blog

Behind the scenes at the 2020 Arbordeck Awards

Arbordeck Awards behind the scenes

We’re delighted to have been able to bring 2020 to a close on a high thanks to another successful Arbordeck Awards – with a new record of 84 entries across all categories.

Of course, the 2020 Arbordeck Awards had to be held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic but despite the unusual circumstances this year, it was fantastic to see so many skilled decking installers embrace this new format and put forward their best projects to be in with the chance of winning a category – with Composite Decking Lifestyles taking home the top prize for its Church End project.

So what goes on behind the scenes at the Arbordeck Awards? 2020 head judge Lee Heitzman gives the inside scoop below!

What the judges were looking for

The 2020 Arbordeck Awards judging panel all received a digital download pack containing the name, description and images of each entry and individually scored the projects based on a set of five criteria:

  1. The craftsmanship and finishing details of the deck
  2. The overall design of the deck
  3. How well the deck complements its surrounding area
  4. Whether the deck displays any unique features
  5. What the deck is like as a whole – an overall score is given, taking all factors into account

Once all three judges had given scores to each decking project, we had a Zoom meeting to discuss the rankings and decide on the shortlists for, and eventually the winners of, each category. This is the fun part for the judges: it’s only at this point, once the decisions have been made, that we find out who has installed the decks! We all feel that with such a unique prize package on offer, it’s the fairest way to judge the Arbordeck Awards.

We saw a rise in the overall standard of decks this year, and have noticed installers fitting decks which demonstrate a high skill level as well as displaying more creativity in the design of the decks. This year we noted a lot of decks featuring lighting, planters, seating areas and hot tubs – all of which add to the overall use of the space, showing that installers are really keeping the customer in mind during the design phase.

I was also pleased to see more curves on the decks entered into the awards this year; Trex decking boards are one of the few that can be curved, meaning installers can add real flair to a deck by moving away from the conventional square and rectangular shapes we often see.

A sign of the times

Not only did the judging have to take place virtually this year, but so did FutureScape – meaning that the awards ceremony was online too.

In my opinion, face-to-face seminars can’t be replaced and this would always be my first choice but that simply wasn’t an option this year, so I announced the winners and runners-up of all six categories plus the prestigious ‘Deck of the Year’ award in a pre-recorded ceremony, which was then shown at FutureScape Virtual 2020.

I did however enjoy the challenge of recording the ceremony, which certainly put me out of my comfort zone. The videography team we worked with made the whole process very easy – but for now, Brad Pitt can sleep easily knowing I’m not looking for a career change just yet!

What happens next?

With the winning installers unable to accept their certificates and trophies in-person this year, we put together prize packs for each winner, and all category winners will have their winning decks professionally photographed.

And of course, Composite Decking Lifestyles won the top prize: a four-day trip for two to Washington, D.C. which includes a visit to Trex University.

As for the 2021 Arbordeck Awards, I’m hopeful that these will be able to take place in person at FutureScape again. We appreciate all of the support we receive for these awards and continue to think of ways to evolve alongside the industry – so keep an eye out for any announcements about the awards in 2021!

Thank you to my fellow judges, Alan Hodkinson and Andy Tudbury, for their ongoing time and support – we wouldn’t be able to bring the awards together without them.

And finally, thank you to all of our stockists and installers for being understanding and supportive throughout this year. I hope everyone keeps safe over the festive period and enjoys some much-needed family time. We have some exciting plans for 2021 and look forward to sharing these in the New Year!

Lee Heitzman

2020 head judge Lee Heitzman

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