With many of the same looks and uses as regular lumber, recycled plastic lumber is a wood-like product made from recovered plastic and other materials. It can be used as a substitute for concrete, wood, and metals. Common uses for recycled plastic lumber include agricultural, civil engineering, gardening, industrial, recreational, transportation, and marine engineering applications.
Recycled plastic lumber is made mostly from recycled plastic with reinforcements from wood, glass, rubber, steel, concrete, and polyethylene. It is a newer lumber on the market, and as such, it is not completely understood by some homeowners. If you’re considering using recycled plastic lumber for your next project, be sure to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of the product before making a final decision.
Recycled plastic lumber offers a number of advantages that have contributed to its popularity. First, it is available in a wide variety of colors, meaning it is versatile and very well-suited for decking, landscaping, and recreational equipment. It is flexible and can be curved into various shapes, which also increases its usefulness. The fact that it is marketed as being clean, non-toxic, splinter free, and not prone to cracking has made it popular for use in playgrounds and kid-friendly environments.
Recycled plastic lumber is essentially wood filled with sawdust or other recycled fibers. It is nonporous, and this quality means that the lumber has very few voids, provides good traction, and is easy to paint. Being nonporous also means that recycled plastic lumber is resistant to bacteria, chemicals, and graffiti. Manufacturers of the material claim that it does not need sealants, preservatives, or paint in order to stay durable.
Recycled plastic lumber also diverts plastic waste from landfills, meaning it is environmentally friendly. It offers low long-term maintenance costs and reduces upkeep expenses, and the fact that it doesn’t need to be treated means it eliminates the need to use potentially harmful chemicals that pollute the environment.
Despite being heralded as the perfect lumber replacement, recycled plastic lumber also comes with many disadvantages. Due to its lack of stiffness, for example, recycled plastic lumber cannot be used for structural applications. What’s more, it often costs more to produce than regular lumber, as the material sorting needed to produce the recycled plastic lumber increases costs.
One of the biggest disadvantages to recycled plastic lumber is that despite manufacturers’ claims, recycled plastic lumber is not always rot or insect resistant. In fact, many homeowners have found that their recycled plastic lumber decks become moldy after only a few short years, despite manufacturers’ promises that the decks were completely mold-proof. And unlike many decking woods, this material becomes discolored in outdoor applications (suffering from color fading at best and mold spots at worst).
Recycled plastic lumber is made of plastic that is remelted and remolded; because of this, it is usually only available in earth tones. However, many homeowners find that the supposedly earthy look of recycled plastic lumber seems artificial and unattractive in comparison to the natural beauty of wood.
Additionally, recycled plastic lumber can absorb moisture. This quality gives the lumber poor impact strength when subjected to low temperatures, especially in the winter months. This means that the lumber could be somewhat unreliable in certain climate areas.
Finally, recent evidence suggests that recycled plastic lumber may not be as non-toxic as manufacturers claim. Toxic metal contaminants have been detected in many recycled plastic lumber boards, and many of these chemicals have been shown to result in skin irritation and other health problems.
Recycled plastic lumber may be a good choice in certain situations, but it’s important to do your research before deciding on a product. Unlike the newly-invented recycled plastic lumber, natural wood boasts time-tested reliability and has been proven to be an excellent building material. Whatever you decide, be sure to consult with outside sources to ensure that your building material is up to par. The recycled plastic lumber companies may paint a rosy picture, but in many cases, the reality is quite different.
For more information on natural wood lumber and how it stacks up against other building materials, contact J Gibson McIlvain Company today. J Gibson McIlvain is one of the nation’s oldest and most well-respected lumber dealers, and as such, they are well-equipped to answer all of your lumber-related questions. For more information, visit their website at www.mcilvain.com.
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