What Is Poly Lumber And How Can It Be Used For Construction?

In the past, wood was the only material that was available to use in construction projects. Now, thanks to advances in technology, contractors and homeowners have access to better materials, including poly lumber.

What Is Poly Lumber? 

Poly lumber is any lumber profile that is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic. If you’ve ever used the recycling symbols and numbers, HDPE corresponds with #2. 

HDPE is an incredibly versatile plastic that is regularly used for food packaging and agricultural products. What makes HDPE so great?

  1. HDPE is malleable which means it can be formed and reformed into almost any shape and size. 
  2. HDPE is impact-resistant. 
  3. HDPE is lightweight but still retains incredible strength. 

Milk jugs, detergent bottles, pipes, toys, automobile parts, and chemical containers are just a few of the materials that are made from HDPE. When the consumer finds that these materials have reached the limit of their use, they can be recycled and made into new materials, like plastic lumber

In addition to the above benefits, poly lumber is a great building material because it doesn’t attract rodents, insects, and it doesn’t absorb moisture. 

How Is Poly Lumber Made From Recycled Materials? 

The process of creating recycled poly lumber begins with sourcing milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and detergent bottles from land and ocean-bound plastics. These containers are placed into a grinder which then chops the plastic into 2mm-3mm pieces. 

The plastic is washed to remove any residue. Once clean, it is placed into a pelletizer which heats the plastic to turn it into a viscous state. This melted HDPE is pushed through a strand die cutter and cut into small pellets. 

Once the pellets have been formed they can be melted again and combined with color pigments, UV and antioxidant protection, foaming agents and other property enhancers. This mixture is pushed through an extruder into plank shaped molds to create the lumber. 

What Can Poly Lumber Be Used For? 

HDPE lumber can be used for any construction project that previously used traditional wood! Just a few of the projects that we’ve seen built from our lumber include: 

  • Boardwalks
  • Retaining Walls
  • Docks
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Decks

This high-performing and environmentally friendly lumber is a great choice for contractors and homeowners. 

Are Special Tools Needed To Work With Poly Lumber? 

No! Traditional wood working tools can be used to cut, drill, or router plastic wood. In fact, screws and nails are retained better in poly lumber than traditional wood. 

Invest In The Future With Poly Lumber 

Although the initial investment into poly lumber is slightly more than wood, the long term returns can’t be beat. 

Poly lumber, when installed correctly, will last for decades. It won’t rot, rust, crack, or peel. It won’t be damaged by rodents or insects. Plus, it saves time and money on yearly maintenance since it never needs to be painted, stained, or sealed.  Whatever the climate, you can rest easy knowing that plastic lumber will perform well.

If you have questions about which plastic lumber grade you need for your project, head over to our page “What Grade Plastic Lumber Do I Need?” to learn more.