Wood Plastic Composites coming soon to an outdoor setting near you
Wood Plastic Composites (WPCs) are used in decking, screening, fencing, cladding, soffits and products such as hand rails and balusters, albeit, in most uses, WPCs have a very small toehold. Essentially, these are outdoor and hardwearing products, implying that in general, they are replacing other wood products and primarily hardwoods or treated softwoods.
A new report by Frank Moretti Consulting for FWPA provides a snapshot of the Australian market for WPCs in Australia.
The report identifies the segments and products described above and it also addresses product performance issues, much of which is anecdotal.
Modern day negatives described in the report include cost compared with the substitute products, the risk of thermal expansion, heat of WPCs, challenges in transportation, difficulties in bushfire prone areas and narrow joint spacings.
The value proposition for WPC is strongly linked to claims of “no maintenance” durability and environmental credentials. The report identifies some significant positives, including aesthetics (colour and texture options, uniformity), flexibility, length, apparent environmental credentials, reduced splintering and ease and speed of installation.
On the question of price, the report identifies that WPCs are more expensive than competitor hardwood products and generally require specialised fixing.
Local manufacturing is limited, with most products imported under the omnibus ‘Builders Joinery’ import definitions and codes, with little clarity as to the total value of the market.
Specification of WPCs appears strongly driven with the design and commissioning sector where the “performance requirements” for no maintenance external products may outweigh the difference in cost. The products are stocked locally by some of the big merchants but in the main merchants are yet to take a significant position on this still emerging product.
A copy of the report is available on request. Contact Jim Houghton, Economics & Statistics Manager email@example.com.