10 Things You Need to Know About Plastic Lumber
By Brad Holden
No, we haven’t
changed our name
to American Plasticworker.
I love wood, with all its beautiful textures,
figures and smells. But I also enjoy experimenting
with different materials. So I decided
to try some of the plastic lumber available at my
local home center. It costs $3 to $6 per bd. ft.—considerably
more expensive than treated pine, which
costs about $2 per bd. ft. at my lumberyard. Plastic
wood also holds little of the beauty and romance of
real wood, but its big advantages are durability and
the fact that it requires no finishing and little maintenance
other than an occasional rinse with the garden
hose. I also like the idea that many brands are
made from recycled materials that would otherwise
end up in a landfill. Some manufacturers sell only
the plastic boards; others also sell plastic wood furniture
and furniture kits (see "Where to buy it" and
Source, below). Of course, you can also design
and build your own plastic lumber furniture, but
you need to consider several things when you do.
1. It's very durable.
Plastic wood is particularly well-suited
Click any image to view a larger version.
2. Choose from two types
Two primary types of plastic lumber are available.
You may find flecks of other colored plastic on the
3. Lots of colors and sizes are available
Plastic lumber comes in a wide assortment of colors and
4. Caution: It can sag
All-plastic lumber bends easily under weight.
5. It's heavy
At 4 to 5 lbs. per
6. Texture provides traction
The majority of plastic lumber
Fun fact: An Adirondack chair
7. It's fun to bend
I had a lot of fun bending plastic lumber. The
One really cool method is to use a heat gun on the all plastic
To bend larger boards (see middle photo), you can make an inexpensive
This bent 1×4 all-plastic
Bending thin strips of plastic lumber is
8. Where to buy it
9. Work it as easily as wood
You can plane it,
Plastic lumber machines
Screwing and bolting are
10. It's great for the patio
This bench may not end up in an
I avoided visible fasteners on the top
Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.
Taylor’s Recycled Plastic Products Inc., taylorsplasticlumber.com, 879-939-6072,
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker May 2005, issue #114.