DALLAS - Wood-Plastic Composite Lumber to Outpace Plastic Increases in overall construction activity will support demand gains for both types of alternative lumber through 2018, but wood-plastic composite demand will rise at a quicker pace than demand for plastic lumber, albeit from a smaller base. As nearly two-thirds of composite and plastic lumber demand is generated by the residential market, expansion in that market will boost composite lumber demand. In large, high-growth residential applications such as decking, wood-plastic composite is increasingly preferred to plastic lumber. Several factors will support its rapid growth. For instance, composite lumber includes cellulosic fibers and is better able to resemble the look and texture of traditional wood, an appealing trait to consumers looking for attractive but low maintenance decks. Furthermore, because composite lumber frequently is manufactured using recycled materials — including consumable plastic such as grocery bags and stretch film, and wood scraps from mills and other lumber operations — it is often marketed as an environmentally friendly building material.

Company Profiles

Profiles for US industry competitors such as Axiall, CPG International, Fiberon, Headwaters & Trex

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US Demand to Jump More Than 10% Annually

US demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is expected to increase more than 10 percent annually to $8.4 billion in 2018, creating a market for nearly four billion pounds of plastic. A rebound in new housing completions from the low 2013 level and gains in residential improvement and repair expenditures will generate increases in demand. Demand gains will also be boosted by increased market penetration in decking applications, the predominant use for composite and plastic lumber.

Decking to Remain Key Application

Decking applications will account for more than two-fifths of composite and plastic lumber demand by 2018. Homeowners will increasingly choose decks made from alternative lumber because it has greater resistance to degradation by moisture, changes in humidity, insect attack, and time, and because it requires minimal maintenance over its long service life. Ongoing changes to manufacturing technologies that will improve the color-fade resistance and the resemblance to natural wood, particularly expensive hardwoods such as ipe and redwood, will further boost composite and plastic decking demand. Further gains will result from efforts by manufacturers to increase the scope of decking accessories offered. Among other applications, molding and trim applications are also expected to advance at a strong pace through 2018. Wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber use in molding and trim will benefit from renewed housing activity and performance characteristics — such as resistance to moisture and ease of shaping — that are superior to those of lumber and engineered wood.

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Additional Information

This study examines the US market for two types of materials serving as alternatives to wood in construction: composites of cellulose fiber and plastic — referred to in the study as “wood-plastic composite lumber” or “composites” — and plastic resins — referred to as “plastic lumber.” Both materials are manufactured using techniques — primarily extrusion but also injection molding — common to the plastics industry. Applications for these materials covered in this study include decking, molding and trim, fencing, landscaping and outdoor products, windows, doors, and assorted applications such as spa cabinets, marine decks, and railroad ties.

This study does not address applications for plastic lumber in which plastics (primarily vinyl) are not in competition with wood or in which they have already attained substantial market share. Applications falling under these categories include plastic siding, extruded plastic windows and doors, plastic playground equipment not competing with traditional lumber, vinyl patio furniture, and vinyl flooring. Cellulose-resin products, such as plywood, strawboard, and oriented strand board, are also excluded from demand considerations for composite lumber.

Few Points from Table of Contents

List Of Charts

Section II -- Market Environment

1 Year of Construction of Housing Stock, 2013 35

2 World Composite & Plastic Lumber Demand by Region, 2013 59

Section III -- Materials

1 Wood-Plastic Composite Lumber Demand by Material, 2013 67

2 Plastic Lumber Demand by Resin Type, 2013 77

Section IV -- Applications

1 Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber Demand by Application, 2013 89

2 Wood-Plastic Composite Lumber Decking Market Share, 2013 103

3 Plastic Lumber Decking Market Share, 2013 110

4 Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber Molding & Trim Market Share, 2013 123

5 Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber Fencing Market Share, 2013 131

6 Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber Windows & Doors Market Share, 2013 147

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