The activities of American manufacturers in the development of composite and plastic decking, fencing, roofing, siding and framing are described. A variety of colours and surface finishes are available, to simulate the appearance of traditional timber products. The composites are usually of polyethylene, polypropylene or PVC blended with wood fibre, but glass fibre-reinforced material is also available. As a large proportion of the plastic and the whole of the wood fibre is reclaimed material and might otherwise end up as landfill, composite lumber is environmentally friendly. Guarantees of up to 50 years are offered. Demand is forecast to grow by 12% annually to the end of 2006. Plastics containing wood fibre exhibit enhanced stiffness, but the wood may suffer fungal degradation. Fibre-free material avoids this problem, at the expense of reduced stiffness.
Primary author(s): Power M
Vol.27, No.1, 2004, p.356,358,360,362,364