Plastic lumber is a type of artificial "wooden" boards made from plastic, although it may also include other composite materials. There are a number of advantages to this material, which have led to an increasing demand for it since the 1990s, when commercial producers began fabricating it in volume. Many hardware and lumber stores carry plastic lumber, and built products made from it are also readily available from an assortment of manufacturers.
Pure plastic lumber is made entirely from recycled plastic materials, which are shredded, melted, and molded into wood forms. Many companies also dye their products, offering several colors for consumers to choose from. Composite lumber typically includes wood chips or shavings, with the plastic providing structural support, making it sturdier than fiberboard and other products made from compressed shredded wood. Fiber-reinforced plastic lumber is made with recycled plastic and glass, and it is extremely strong and very durable.
There are a number of reasons why plastic lumber can be better than real wood. It's low maintenance, since it does not need to be painted, stained, varnished, or otherwise maintained; the same properties which make global plastic pollution a huge problem make this lumber an ideal building material, since it will not break down. It is also environmentally friendly, re-using recycled plastic material and reducing the necessity of cutting down trees. Furthermore, plastic lumber is incredibly strong and sturdy, making it suitable for a range of applications, and it will not splinter.
One of the most common places to see plastic lumber is in outdoor environments. Because it resists mold, rot, and decay, it can be used on bridges, docks, fencing, decking, and other outdoor applications. It can also be used as siding for structures, and for building stables, barns, and other structures that see heavy wear over their lifetimes. Most companies stress that the recovered plastics they use are not harmful, making them safe for use in a range of locations.
While the thought of using plastic lumber might seem tacky, many companies make it of such high quality that it can be difficult to differentiate it from real lumber, especially at a distance. With increasing demand for these products, companies have also rolled out an assortment of colors, allowing people to choose from natural shades in addition to artificial ones. It'is also in demand in industrial and institutional applications, as it can withstand environments like prisons, playgrounds, and parks.