Trex Co. swung into the black in the first quarter, rising to $5.1 million net income from a $5.6 million loss in the year-earlier period, the company announced today. Net sales rose 4.1% to $69 million.

The Winchester, Va.-based decking manufacturer posted that net based on a pretax profit of $2.4 million and a $2.7 million income tax benefit. Cost of sales decreased 10% to $46 million, pushing the gross margin for January through March to 33.4%, up sharply from 24.2% in last year's first quarter.

"Following our record-setting fourth-quarter sales in 2010, Trex delivered another strong performance," chairman, president and CEO Ronald W. Kaplan said in a statement.. "Sales continued at a solid pace and our bottom line benefited substantially from the elimination of the Trex Transcend start-up costs and overall manufacturing efficiency improvements." During the first quarter, Trex began shipping tropical colors for its Transcend decking, which it said was well recieved in the market.

Kaplan said the company expects net sales to almost double to $115 million during the second quarter.

The company also announced today that it acquired Iron Deck Corp., a Denver-based manufacturer of steel framing systems. With the acquisition, Trex will now market steel deck framing products under a new product line called Trex Elevations. The products will be made of dual-coated, galvanized steel.

"We will make the steel deck framing at our Nevada and Virginia facilities, marketing it under the brand name Trex Elevations," Kaplan said. "This product extension will enable us to continue gaining market share in the rapidly growing ultra-low-maintenance category while positioning Trex for expansion into the $1.9 billion deck substructure market."