U.S. demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is expected to rise 9.8 percent annually to $5.5 billion in 2018, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based market research firm.

Additionally, the study shows a rebound in new housing completions from a low 2013 level and gains in residential improvement and repair expenditures will generate growth in demand. Freedonia analyst Paul Goehrke forecasts, “Demand gains will also be boosted by increased market penetration in decking applications.”

Decking applications will account for more than two-fifths of composite and plastic lumber demand in 2018,comprising 19 percent of all decking demand. Increases in overall construction activity will support demand gains for both types of alternative lumber through 2018, but wood-plastic composite demand will rise at a quicker pace than demand for plastic lumber, albeit from a smaller base. In large, high-growth residential applications such as decking, wood-plastic composite is increasingly preferred to plastic lumber. As nearly two-thirds of composite and plastic lumber demand is generated by the residential market, expansion in residential construction activity will boost composite lumber demand.

Among other applications, molding and trim are also expected to advance at a strong pace through 2018. Wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber use in molding and trim will benefit from renewed housing activity and from performance characteristics—such as resistance to moisture and ease of shaping—that are superior to those of lumber and engineered wood.


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