The Difference Between HDPE and Composite Lumber | Wood Alternatives

Home and business owners are constantly searching for an alternative to traditional wood lumber for a wide range of construction projects. Two of the most popular wood lumber alternatives are HDPE lumber at Plastic Lumber Yard and wood composite lumber. 

What Is HDPE Lumber? 

HDPE stands for High-Density Polyethylene. HDPE is a thermoplastic polymer that is made from petroleum. HDPE has several outstanding properties, including being high-impact resistant, a large strength-to-density ratio, a high melting point, and high tensile strength. Examples of products that are made out of virgin HDPE plastic include milk jugs, shampoo bottles, cutting boards, piping, snowboards, and even surgical components used in skeletal and facial reconstruction.

The HDPE lumber available through Plastic Lumber Yard is created through secondary recycling. Milk jugs and bottles made from HDPE are broken down into pellets, melted, and combined with additives before being molded into lumber. Each piece of lumber is made entirely of HDPE. 

Although HDPE is molded to resemble wood, it has none of the disadvantages of wood. HDPE lumber is mold and mildew resistant. It is entirely waterproof, making it perfect for decks, docks, and walkways that are in wetlands or at the shore. The color of the lumber is included throughout the entire board during the manufacturing process, so painting and staining will never be needed. 

According to the American Chemistry Council and America’s Plastics Makers, ” …a plastic lumber deck in the backyard can entertain generations of families.” 

This statement speaks to the extreme durability of HDPE lumber. That’s why our line of decking boards is called ForeverDeck

What Is Composite Decking? 

Composite decking boards are created by combining natural and synthetic materials. There are many types of composite decking, including capped and uncapped. Typically, companies like Trex use a combination of wood fibers or wood flour that are encased by plastic skin. 

There’s no denying that composite lumber will last longer than wood, however, there are concerns that are shared by the construction community. The wood fiber competent can absorb water, causing it to swell and warp. These fibers also can become moldy. Peeling and splintering on the edges of the board are also possible. 

Additionally, composite decking also becomes extremely hot when exposed to full sun, hot enough to burn bare feet and pet paws. 

HDPE vs Composite Lumber 

In the majority of cases, HDPE is a better option, especially when strength is required. When floor joists, rafters, trusses, and framing are built, structural lumber is required. Composite isn’t strong enough to act as structural support, however, fiberglass reinforced HDPE lumber is. 

In fact, thanks to the fiberglass reinforcement, the Structural Lumber available at Plastic Lumber Yard is actually stronger than structural wood lumber. 

Lumber For Any Construction Project

It doesn’t matter what kind of construction project is taking place, our team can help you determine which grade of plastic lumber fits your needs. Just a few examples of the construction projects we’ve seen built with plastic lumber include: 

  • Decks
  • Boardwalks
  • Furniture
  • Horse Stalls
  • Barns

We can be reached by phone ((610) 277-3900) or email (