What Is Composite Lumber?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Composite lumber is a type of product that is composed of various types of wood that are salvaged and recycled along with the addition of plastic and different types of chemical compounds. While most formulas call for an equal percentage of wood and plastic in the lumber sections, there are products on the market that utilizes a larger percentage of wood in the mix. Composite lumber is especially useful when it comes to the construction of outdoor decks, framing windows and creating interior or exterior molding for various types of commercial and residential buildings.

The appearance of composite lumber is almost identical to that of actual lumber planking and similar sections. This is because the processes used to create the product involve using chemicals to adhere the ingredients and compression equipment that results in solid wood sections that can be cut to measure. Most examples of composite lumber will even have a wood grain appearance that makes it ideal for staining when used in the creation of a deck area.


There are several benefits to using composite lumber in various building projects. The durability of the lumber is among the best in hybrid construction supplies, and is less prone to decay due to exposure to different weather conditions, infestation by insects, and even sun damage. This is due to the wood and plastic combination being treated with chemicals that help to increase the integrity of the product and delay the decomposition process. In addition, composite lumber is much less likely to warp, making it ideal for use in number of applications.

While composite lumber is excellent for use in building decks, fences and even as trim and molding in various types of building projects, there are a couple of potential drawbacks. This type of lumber can be more expensive than purchasing treated wood lumber, making it less attractive for some projects. In addition, the lumber does not have the flexibility that is found with some natural wood lumber, which means that the composite product may not be ideal for every type of construction project.

Another key advantage to composite lumber is that the products makes use of materials that would otherwise end up landfills. Typically, both the wood and the plastic are used materials that are salvaged and recycled to form the new sections of lumber. This helps to decrease the demand for harvesting new wood, which in turn helps to ease the impact of deforestation on the environment.


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