Never again would you need to worry about stepping barefoot upon a splinter in the world of wood plastic composite lumber. Never again would you have to concern yourself with warping wood or burning your feet on a hot deck at the height of summer.
Wood plastic composite is an environmentally friendly replacement to wood and virtually maintenance-free because it doesn’t have to be treated with preservatives. Planks don’t attract termites and are impervious to weather that would normally wear down wood. These are all benefits of wood plastic composite lumber over regular wood.
What is Wood Plastic Composite?
Wood plastic composite lumber is a creation of the recycling age. Lumber is made up of a 50/50 ratio (sometimes as high as 70/30) of plastic wastes and discarded wood fibres or sawdust. These ingredients are mixed and shaped into lumber (or whatever shape desired).
Other additives like colour, reinforcing agents, and lubricants are added, depending on what the lumber is being made for. The mixture is poured into molds and hardened. The wood plastic composites support each other in a kind of a marriage. The wood fibres act as reinforcement to plastic, while the plastic protects the wood so it resists moisture and fungus.
The lumber can be formed into solid or hollow forms designed to be with or without imitated wood grain. The wood plastic composite can also be moulded into various shapes such as flooring, panels, fencing, siding, windows, and doors.
The material feels like wood, looks like wood, and can be nailed and screwed into like wood. Pieces can be cut with conventional woodworking tools and can be painted or varnished. Yet, the need to paint this amazing versatile material may be obsolete because of the ability to inject the desired colour into the mixing phase.
Cost Effective and Recyclable, too!
Even though wood plastic composites use recycled materials in the creation process, the material itself is very difficult to recycle at the end of its long life. Some of the chemicals included in the combination of wood and plastic limits the number of items the material can be recycled back into.
Studies using experiments show that the effectiveness of the traits that make this material so attractive weaken each time it is recycled. However, this is a small flaw that can be overcome.
Generally, wood plastic composite lumber is as expensive as some higher-end materials such as redwood, and it is coveted as such. However, there have been recent breakthroughs from Oregon State University in the manufacturing and mixing methods that have improved the strength of the lumber to soon make it affordable for the average consumer.
Current projections place this lumber to make up about 20% of the construction market by 2010. Imagine a world with inexpensive, strong, rot-free lumber using recycled waste. There is no limit to this innovation.
The next time you pass a beautifully built deck, picket fence, or wood floor, look closely – it just might be wood plastic composite.