As we become more aware of our impact on the environment, it has grown increasingly critical to use environmentally friendly construction materials. Wood and wood-plastic composites (WPC) have long been popular materials for decking, but today’s market is replacing them with even more durable and eco-friendly recycled plastic “lumber” or wood alternatives. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composites are two of the most common types of plastic lumber that are available today.
The following guide summarizes the characteristics of HDPE and FRP composite lumber to help you select the ideal material for your deck.
Recycled Plastic Lumber
Wood-based materials have fallen out of favor with consumers for a variety of reasons:
Wood and WPC composites are often produced using materials procured through unsustainable logging practices.
They also degrade and decay when exposed to the sun, wind, moisture, and foot traffic.
They are expensive to maintain and replace.
Chemicals that are used to weatherproof wood can leach into the ground and water, polluting the environment.
Between the short life span, expense, and ecological impact of wood-based lumber, it is no surprise companies are developing more durable and sustainable materials.
Recycled plastic “lumber” offers a low-maintenance, sturdy, and environmentally friendly wood alternative for construction. Manufacturers repurpose consumer plastics into a strong, durable material that can withstand exposure to even harsh outdoor environments. These materials are commonly used in marine, industrial, agricultural, and consumer-focused applications instead of wood or wood-plastic composites.
HDPE Lumber vs. Fiber-Reinforced Plastic Composite Lumber
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composites are two of the most common plastic-based lumber alternatives available today. Both materials are manufactured using recycled plastics, which makes them more sustainable and less expensive than wood. HDPE and FRP also feature enhanced durability compared to traditional lumber.
However, even though HDPE and FRP have many similarities, they also exhibit a few significant distinctions.
What Is HDPE?
HDPE is one of the most popular plastic materials in the world. It is a thermoplastic polymer made of ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. The ethylene monomers in HDPE are strictly aligned with very little branching, which means the material is strong and rigid. HDPE is opaque, resistant to chemicals, and capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 120 °C/248 °F.
. Pros and Cons of Using HDPE
HDPE is valued for its lightweight strength and hardness. It is an excellent barrier against moisture, corrosion, rot, and insects, and it won’t leach chemicals into the surrounding environment. The HDPE manufacturing process does not produce harmful emissions.
Although HDPE is strong, it has a tendency to expand or contract with changing temperatures. It also will degrade when exposed to UV radiation for long periods of time, resulting in unsightly cracks and splitting that could make the surface unsafe for walking. Since there are no fibers incorporated in the HDPE structure, it lacks the structural stability of FRP composites like Miura Board. The surface of HDPE board is also impervious to paint, coatings, and adhesives, so it is difficult to brand or customize HDPE lumber to meet certain functional and aesthetic needs. This is a significant factor for businesses and homeowners who want to attach abrasive safety strips to their outdoor decking or deviate from standard color options.
. Common HDPE Applications
HDPE is commonly used for containers such as plastic bottles, milk jugs, and recycled plastic bags. Recycled HDPE is also used for consumer goods such as crates and buckets, plastic furniture, HDPE playground equipment, office supplies, and, of course, construction decking. Overall, HDPE is an adequate choice for many applications that occur indoors or in shaded areas that don’t need to be painted or customized.
What Is FRP Composite Lumber?
Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) is a polymer matrix made up of resin and various strengthening fibers, such as basalt, carbon, glass, aramid, and/or asbestos. Miura Board™ is a type of FRP that uses commingled recycled plastics on a recycled carpet backing. The fibers used to strengthen the thermoplastic resin include nylon and polyester, which are also typically derived from recycled carpet. As a result, Miura Board™ is composed entirely of recycled materials and has zero wood content. The resultant composite lumber is fully recyclable once it has reached the end of its service life.
. Pros and Cons of Using FRP Composite Miura Board™
FRP composites such as Miura Board™ feature all the benefits of HDPE without the disadvantages. Miura Board™ can be painted, coated, power washed, and even welded, and adhesives stick easily to the surface. Although the Miura Board™ standard is slate-gray, the color can be customized pre- and post-production.
Because of its flexibility and resistance to UV exposure, FRP typically has a longer service life and requires less maintenance than HDPE, which also makes it more cost-effective long-term.
. Common FRP Composite and Miura Board™ Applications
FRP composites such as Miura Board™ are valued for their lightweight strength, structural integrity, and corrosion-resistance, all of which make them ideal for marine, industrial, and commercial applications. FRP can be used to build decks, platforms, siding, and ground protection mats, just to name a few examples.
Contact Miura Board for Your Recycled Plastic Composite Needs!
Our 100% recycled Miura Board™ products have been widely used across Brazil and Argentina for more than 10 years and are perfectly suited for outdoor decking. At Miura Board, we are dedicated to providing top-quality, environmentally friendly products for customers around the world to suit every type of construction project. To learn more about recycled wood alternatives, contact us today or request a quote.
Composite decking is a popular option among many homeowners today. Unlike wood decking, it is cheaper and easier to maintain, yet still more durable and sustainable. And as a new concept to many homeowners, people often cannot tell the difference between wood and composite deck boards.
Composite Decking Selection Considerations
This guide goes through the basics of composite decking, including what composite decking is, reasons why it serves as a popular alternative to wood decking, and factors to consider when shopping for the best composite decking.
. Composite Decking Materials – What is it Made of?
Composite decking uses a variety of materials instead of wood:
Wood composite. A blend of sawdust and recycled plastic, wood composite serves as the most popular composite decking material. With appearance and feel like wood decking, wood composite also comes in an array of colors and can be styled to look like laminate flooring.
Plastic. Plastic composite decking uses a variety of plastic materials, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and vinyl. It is lightweight and durable. Additionally, many of the high-end brands can be styled to look like authentic wood decking.
PVC/vinyl. PVC and vinyl composite decking material is made of 100% polyvinyl chloride. Easily customizable, vinyl offers an abundance of color selections.
Other common materials used for composite decking include:
Other recycled materials
. Benefits of Composite Decking
Due to its many benefits, composite decking’s popularity keeps growing. Most notably, using it eases the global dependence on wood. For every home to afford a wooden deck, it would require a lot of this finite resource, and over-harvesting will likely devastate the forests and climate.
Other significant benefits of composite decking include:
Great value for money. The installation cost runs higher than that of wood decking. In the long term, however, the choice for composite decking saves a lot of money and time, as covered below.
Durable. That characteristic sleek and elegant look and feel of wood decking does not always last. Instead, it wears and tears over time, develops splinters and stains, and generally degrades overall as a material. However, durable composite decking retains its structure and look over time.
Easy to maintain. Because of its short-term resilience, wood decking needs proper maintenance. This care includes cleaning, sheltering from extreme weather, and making all necessary repairs. Low-maintenance composite decking does not need this type of attention over time.
The initial cost of composite decking surpasses that of wood decking. Yet in the end, choosing to build with composite decking material still proves more cost-effective. Durability and easy maintenance over time help keep long-term cost low.
Composite decking lasts longer than wood decking. Not prone to the degradation associated with wood, it does not splinter or rot away over time. That means that less money will be spent on repairs and replacements, saving the consumer more than the margin difference of wood decking.
Maintenance can also be costly. With wood decking, handyman help may be needed to fix small problems, increasing overall cost over time. Composite decking does not degrade as much as wood decking, which means lower maintenance expenses.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Composite Decking
So, what makes the ideal composite decking? That depends on personal preferences. However, there are several factors that every shopper should take into consideration:
Material. Different materials used to make composite decking have varying strengths and shortcomings. Some materials provide more durability while others look more visually appealing. For wood composite decking, benefits in both design and strength position it as the most popular or best composite decking material.
Aesthetic appeal. Wood decking remains popular for the elegant wooden appearance. However, some of the more versatile composite decking materials can be styled to look realistically like wood. Compared against one another, many people cannot tell the difference between wood and composite decking.
Color and texture. In addition to a wooden appearance, some composite decking materials can also imitate the texture and feel of genuine wood. But, unlike wood decking, composite deck boards can offer a variety of colors and designs.
Composite decking works for more than just residential backyards. Other applications expand beyond the home, reaching such industries as construction, transportation, and public works or governmental projects. On a smaller scale, it can be used in industrial projects such as:
Constructing stadiums and bleachers
Miura Board – The Ideal Composite Decking Brand
Miura Board pushes the limits of composite decking. It takes recycling to the next level by making use of recycled plastic and post-consumer carpet backing. Stronger and more durable, Miura Board products pack an original aesthetic appeal. Get in touch with Miura Board to learn more about the best composite deck boards on the market.
Miura Board is one of many composite wood solutions on the market. Like other composite fencing materials, Miura Board allows users to create strong and reliable fences that stand the test of time. However, Miura Board is a superior alternative to both wood and wood composites for a variety of reasons.
This blog post will compare Miura Board to competitive solutions to help you determine if our proprietary product is right for your wood fencing project.
Composite vs. Wood Fence
Wood composite fencing and wood fencing differ from one another in several ways. Wood fencing had few market competitors until fairly recently, but wood composites have offered an appealing alternative. Composite fences are made of a mixture of plastic and real wood to create an eco-friendly alternative to standard fencing.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding between wood and wood composites.
One of the most notable differences between wood and wood composites is their upfront cost. Cost plays a central role in most projects and standard wood fences are cheaper to purchase than their composite counterparts. Wood fences tend to cost around $15 per foot, while composite wood fences may run $25 per foot or more.
While increased upfront costs may be a deterrent, it’s important to consider the overall lifespan of the product. The significantly longer service life of wood composites makes them much more affordable over time by delivering a lower cost of ownership. With a minimum service lifespan of 15–20 years, composite wood is ultimately much more cost-effective.
When comparing maintenance requirements, wood and wood composite fences vary considerably. While wood fences require frequent repainting and/or repair, composite wood fencing simply requires occasional wash downs with water. Composite holds up better than wood when exposed to weather, UV rays, and other environmental factors such as insects and mold.
The natural decomposing process of wood can only be delayed through frequent treatments and coatings. Wood must frequently be repainted, repaired, or replaced. In climates with significant moisture, inclement weather, or insect problems, a wood fence may only last a few years.
Miura Board: The Ideal Composite Fencing Solution
Fiber-reinforced composites present several advantages over their wood counterparts. They last longer, require much less maintenance and tend to be cheaper in the long-term. Miura Board fiber-reinforced composites contain zero wood and are used in a variety of private and municipal projects for:
Miura Board is the highest-quality fiber-reinforced, wood-free composite solution on the market. Compared to wood-plastic composites, Miura Board offers comparable or superior performance while remaining a sustainable solution. We use only recycled materials to help divert plastic waste and carpet from landfills.
The below photo illustrates how regular wood fences require regular maintenance and repair, and when a new wood board is added, it creates this “eye-sore” contrast between the new and old pieces. Miura Board’s product doesn’t have this “weathered” look and can seamlessly be replaced for a more consistently cohesive look.
Common contrast seen between the new and old wood boards
Advantages of Miura Board Composite Fencing
Compared to common conventional wood and wood-plastic composite fencing, Miura Board offers a broad range of benefits, including:
Longer service life
Low maintenance requirements
Better weather resistance
Higher strength and durability
If you’d like to learn more about the advantages of Miura Board composite fencing, contact our team today.