Posts Tagged ‘plastic lumber’

Plastic lumber is a product that is of interest to many in the DIY community. As a recycled and durable replacement for wood the appeal of the product is obvious and applications are only limited by the imagination. However, plastic lumber is only suitable for certain applications and unlike lumber is not “one size fits all”. Here are three important things you need to know about plastic lumber:

1.) There are structural and non-structural grades.

Not many people know that some plastic lumber cannot be used for a load-bearing structure. This means that it is not safe to make into benching or a picnic table for example. Structural grades DO exist but you need to request them and ensure what you’re buying is “structural”. This usually is a fiberglass reinforced product.

2.) Color affects cost

This trait about plastic lumber is even less known. Yes, the product can be obtained in a veritable rainbow of colors; however, certain colors are expensive and it’s not simply a choice between “black or color”. Some colors such as yellow may cost up to 50% more than black! As a customer, you need to know this and consider the cost colors may add when you request a quote.

3.) It’s rarely stocked

With so many colors and profiles of lumber (dozens) it’s rare to find it stocked. It is usually brought in on a special order, so know how many lengths of each size you require for your job when making a request for quote. This also means you can expect up to 4-6 weeks for your shipment to arrive, so plan ahead!

4.) It’s expensive

This is a biggie. As a “recycled” product that’s also “just plastic” many customers unfortunately get sticker shock when quoted. Make no mistake, there is no hiding it, plastic lumber will not at all compete with the price of wood: full stop. Certain lumber profiles can reach into several hundred dollars per length and even the humble 2×4 will be close to $100.00/length landed cost. Before getting your hopes too high for your application – understand that you are buying a premium, small-run, product that is priced accordingly.

5.) It’s awesome

For those that invest in plastic lumber it really is as good as advertised. Resisting insect attack, rot, rust, mold, and splintering – the product really is excellent! You just need to make sure you have realistic expectations of the cost, the timeline for your order, and ensure you’ve selected the correct grade.

 

Many members of the “DIY” community are attracted to the concept of plastic lumber. Usually made from recycled materials it carries both benefits to the environment by using less new material. In addition, plastic lumber can be manufactured in grades that are much stronger than regular wood. Most grades of plastic lumber are UV stable and involve much less maintenance than wood. They will not require repainting, will hold their color, will not rot or splinter, and will not come under insect attack.

However, with everything there is a “catch”. In the case of plastic lumber it’s the price and delivery. The problem comes down to two factors 1.) customers assume that plastic lumber is widely stocked in the available colors, sizes, and profiles they see on the internet. 2.) Customers assume that plastic lumber is, well, “it’s just plastic”. What people do not often understand is that many plastics, including plastic lumber, are not considered the “commodity” grade of plastics that the public usually encounters in everyday life. Commodity plastics make up consumer items, what’s in your car, your toys, your kitchen. Plastics are actually available in not one but three higher quality grades above “commodity” (yes, the actual grade of plastics used in consumer items is called ‘commodity’). The other three grades are, from lower to top, engineering, high-performance, and imidized.

The DIY crowd will usually only encounter high-performance plastics in PTFE, which is used in items like telescope mounts. They will never encounter the ultra-expensive and hard to obtain imidized plastics. What you need to understand is plastic lumber falls into the engineering grade of plastic and the most commonly quoted grade, fiberglass reinforced, is at the upper end of engineering grade plastic cost.

What are we getting at here?

You need to understand that the cost of plastic lumber vs. equivalent wood will be approximately 8-10x the cost of wood! We’re just stating the facts here, folks. Plastic lumber is not “just plastic” in the way a milk jug is. These plastics are considered a premium, specialty building material, which is why you see them in so many cool applications! It needs to be a great application to be worth the cost! The reason we provided a range on cost is that the color of the lumber actually plays significantly into the cost. Black is the least expensive, followed by wood tones, and finally really off-wood colors such as yellow or white. the difference is about 30% across the spread.

So when do you go for plastic lumber?

First of all, you need to be realistic about the cost. In addition to the lumber’s cost it likely will need to be shipped in from the manufacturing plant and this can easily cost several hundred dollars. You need to be realistic that the lumber will not get to you within a day or two (getting it on site in a month is typical). Finally you need to be realistic about your project. Hey, we love plastic here, but it has it’s time and place. If you want a premium, low-maintenance building material for your project, great, splurge and make your dream project come true! The issue is you need to have the facts on hand and analyze whether or not plastic lumber actually fits your needs.

 

 

Enjoying the waterfront is a popular summer tradition. Time spent boating and enjoying the lake is a part of many pleasant summer memories. The dock, that “staging point”, for this tradition is an important structure and safety concerns should not be overlooked. Many private docks are made of traditional materials such as wood or metal that eventually rot or corrode. This not only means an expensive replacement of the dock but that it could be putting people at risk.

Plastics do not rot, rust or corrode and there are several solutions available. FRP or “Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic”mini-mesh-frp-grating outperforms traditional materials and can be completely immersed in water for its lifespan. FRP have 80% the strength of steel and is an ideal solution for marine applications. Many private and public docks have integrated FRP materials, such as mini-mesh or pultruded grating, and the results prove FRP’s resiliency.

Fiberglass reinforced plastic lumber is a similar material that is well suited to a marine application. The fiberglass reinforcement of the lumber results in a high degree of strength, yet the material looks similar to wood and adds a traditional beauty. Redco™ plastic lumber is available in a variety of colors and multiple board profiles.

 

 

For more information on how plastic can assist in your application:

E-MAIL: sales@redwoodplastics.com
CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684