WPC & Plastic Lumber Continue to Gain Ground Over Competitive Materials

Wood-plastic composite (WPC) and plastic lumber are popular “wood-look” building materials because they offer performance and (in the case of WPC) pricing advantages over natural wood, particularly in exterior applications such as decking, fencing, and trim, where natural wood is higher maintenance and requires more frequent replacement. As WPC (and increasingly plastic lumber) products employ recycled materials, they also benefit from a positive environmental profile.

The growing availability of WPC and plastic lumber products that mimic the aesthetic and texture of natural wood will continue to benefit demand for WPC and plastic lumber in the US, which is forecast to rise 3.7% per year to $4.9 billion in 2024, according to a new Freedonia Group study. Despite economic weakness from the COVID-19 pandemic and related slowdown in construction, demand is expected be sustained in 2020 and will see healthy advances through the forecast.

Advances in Plastic Lumber Technology Improve Wood-Look Quality & Demand Prospects

Plastic lumber sales are forecast to outpace those of WPC lumber based on the superior performance of plastic lumber compared to WPC – including greater durability and resistance to moisture – and advances in cellular PVC technology that have improved the ability of plastic lumber to resemble natural wood, a key factor in the leading residential market. Through 2024, plastic lumber sales are expected to be bolstered by the product’s:

  • leading market position in moulding and trim, where plastic lumber is preferred because it is easy to install
  • dominant share of fencing demand
  • growing penetration of the important decking market

WPC & Plastic Lumber’s Other Material Competition

WPC and plastic lumber compete with a number of other building materials in various applications as well, including:

  • concrete in decking and fencing applications (though aesthetic concerns about these products limit their use, particularly in the residential market)
  • plaster in residential interiors as crown and cornice moulding, rosettes, festoons, frets, and medallions
  • fiber cement in exterior trim applications

Want to Learn More?

WPC & Plastic Lumber is now available from The Freedonia Group. This study examines the US market for WPC and plastic lumber. Historical data are provided for 2009, 2014, and 2019 with forecasts for 2024 and 2029. Data are provided in dollar value, linear feet, and pounds, and are segmented by material (cellulose, PVC, polyethylene, polyurethane, and other resins), region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West), market (new and improvement and repair residential, commercial, and nonbuilding construction, and agriculture), and application.