Wood plastic composite (or WPC) is an innovative material that combines wood flour or fibers with PVC, polypropylene, or polyethylene.
The final product boasts the sought-after look and feel of wood and the durability of plastic.
WPC is high-performing and environmentally friendly (most of the plastic is recycled), so its use has soared, especially within the building industry.
Let’s look at five examples of this versatile and sustainable building material.
Our five examples of plastic composite wood products you can use today include decking, fencing, cladding, pergolas, and siding. Due to its natural look, high durability, and remarkable resistance to the elements, the material is ideal for these outdoor applications.
If you want to learn more about these five products and why they’re so often made with plastic composite wood, read on.
Below, I’ll go through some of the things that composite materials can be used for and explain why this material is so well-suited to these common uses.
So, whether you’re thinking about incorporating the material into your own property or are simply looking to better understand its properties, you’ve come to the right place.
What are some examples of composite wood? The first would be WPC decking, a low-maintenance, long-lasting product resistant to mold growth, scratching, staining, and fading.
Unlike its traditional counterpart, WPC decking doesn’t require sealing, staining, or painting, so it’s an excellent low-maintenance alternative.
WPC fencing is a unique feature that’ll add a lot of value to your property. It’s often challenging for homeowners to choose fencing material since it’ll need to be something that withstands all the harsh weather elements while still looking good.
Luckily, WPC is UV, rot, and insect-resistant while also available in a wide array of colors, styles, and textures, so it’s a perfect choice.
Cladding is supposed to offer covering and protection to other outdoor structures, so it needs to be durable and high-performing. Luckily, WPC options offer just that, protecting everything that’s under them for decades while requiring little to no maintenance.
Unlike cladding, whose purpose is mostly practical, pergolas can notably impact the overall aesthetic of your outdoor space.
Since they’re traditionally made of wood, they must retain that same look and feel. However, the WPC variations are far more damage-resistant and long-lasting than their traditional counterparts.
Last but not least, wood plastic composite is often used in sidings. Unfortunately, natural wood sidings are notoriously hard to install, which is why many builders and homeowners have opted for the more practical WPC variation.
Not to mention that siding made of this material is traditionally more aesthetically pleasing as well.
Now that you’re better informed on WPC’s most common uses, it’s time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the material.
WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) can be recycled without any significant changes in its properties. The recycling process for WPC is also pretty standard, so you should be able to find a recycling route near you.
If you’re interested in learning more about the recyclability of WPC, check out this study.
Composite wood is expensive compared to its traditional natural wood counterpart. The material’s improved durability and overall performance come at a cost, as most varieties cost anywhere between 15 and 25% more than natural wood. However, the increased longevity might be worth it.
Wood plastic composite is a great building material. As it’s low maintenance and high-performing; thus, offering great value despite the premium price tag. Moreover, the material is environmentally friendly, decreasing wood wastage and using recycled plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
WPC (or wood plastic composite) has a lifespan of up to 30 years. Compared to natural wood, which only lasts about 15 years before needing to be serviced or replaced, WPC will double the lifespan of your project. This increased durability is thanks to the plastic included in WPC.
You can paint wood plastic composite; however, you’ll have to make sure you use an acrylic latex enamel; otherwise, the paint is unlikely to withstand outdoor conditions. Moreover, don’t forget to apply a primer beforehand, wait for it to dry, and then use a semi-gloss or satin latex paint.
You should never need to sand wood composite. However, you can sand WPC to remove stubborn stains, although you must take extreme care to avoid leaving scratches on the finished surface.
Composite wood does not need to be sealed but can benefit from the process. When you properly stain or seal a composite wood structure, you increase its lifespan by several years and make maintaining it easier. However, you’ll have to repeat the process once you seal it.
With that said, how do you seal composite wood? Here’s how:
- Clean the surface.
- Sand the material using fine-grit sandpaper.
- Apply a primer.
- Apply the sealant.
- Apply a second coat (optional).
- Allow to dry.
Final Thoughts On Plastic Composite Wood Products
Wood plastic composite (WPC) decking can be substituted for wood in applications including decking, fencing, cladding, pergolas, and siding.
It is highly durable, which makes it well suited to outdoor uses where rot resistance and resistance to the elements are especially important. It is also easy to work with.
It is a sustainable building material made from wood fibers and recycled plastic. The WPC product itself can also be recycled at the end of its life.
The building materials we discussed in this article are just some of the ways recycled plastic can be used in buildings. Recycled plastic is also used to make plastic bricks for the construction industry, which you can read more about by clicking on our blog.