Demand for Composite and Plastic Lumber Expands

Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is projected to advance 9.2 percent per year to $5.3 billion in 2013, creating a market for 3.3 billion pounds of plastic. Gains will be driven by continued consumer acceptance of these products as replacements for more traditional materials, such as natural wood. Composite and plastic lumber will increasingly be desired due to their long lifespans, minimal maintenance requirements, resistance to degradation caused by insect attack and exposure to the elements, and ability to be cut and hewn like natural wood.


Moreover, the increasing perception of these materials as environmentally friendly products, due to their incorporation of recycled materials, will promote further demand. Gains will also be boosted by the rebound of residential construction from the low levels experienced in 2008. These and other trends are presented in Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.


Decking will continue to be the leading application for composite and plastic lumber. Busy homeowners will increasingly opt for these materials over traditional wood decks, as decks made from composite and plastic lumber require less annual maintenance and have longer lifespans. While decks made from these materials may cost more initially, composite and plastic lumber decks can cost less in the long term, since they do not require annual staining or insect treatments.


Wood-plastic composite lumber will post more rapid gains than plastic lumber, advancing 10.5 percent annually to $2.4 billion in 2013. Gains will be driven by ongoing consumer interest in wood-plastic material as a substitute for wood. Moreover, as decks will continue to be seen as a highly desirable addition to the home, more homeowners will install them, further promoting demand advances for composite lumber. Growth in demand for plastic lumber is forecast to rise 8.2 percent per year to $2.9 billion in 2013.


Through 2013, among the major applications, decking and fencing are forecast to see above-average gains, primarily due to rising interest in using alternative materials in place of natural wood lumber. Molding and trim will remain a key market for composite and plastic lumber, but will see below-average growth, as plastic lumber has already attained substantial market penetration. Demand for composite and plastic lumber in landscape and outdoor products, windows and doors, and other applications will be promoted by continued consumer recognition of the performance properties of the material, as well as by their image as ecologically friendly products.