Building better homes and gardens through plastics

With all the media coverage of single-use plastics, it’s easy for consumers to forget that some of the best applications for plastic materials are in the building and construction industry. Products for both indoor and outdoor architectural and design features were showcased at the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas on Jan. 21 to 23.

Plastics have proven to be an ideal durable material for building and construction applications, providing long-lasting beauty with minimal maintenance. While everyone remembers vinyl siding for homes, in today’s building market there’s so much more.

Vycom (Scranton, PA), an affiliate of the AZEK Co., manufactures brands of innovative plastic sheet products designed to replace wood, metal and other traditional materials in a variety of applications. Recently Vycom unveiled its Thermax XL PVC designed to meet exacting criteria in demanding industrial and cleanroom environments.

Vycom Thermax XL
Vycom's Thermax XL PVC meets demanding requirements in industrial and cleanroom environments.

The fire- and heat-resistant material is ANSI FM-4910 compliant, certifying it has passed the Factory Mutual test for fire generation and smoke density. It is designed to provide fabrication flexibility, efficiency and consistency, and can be used to assemble fume hoods, processing sinks and baths as well as chemical storage units. Thermax XL PVC comes in the standard sheet size of 4 x 8 feet; other sizes are available by special order.

AZEK (Chicago) is an umbrella company for a number of other products including AZEK Building Products, a manufacturer of home building materials under its TimberTech AZEK brand, which also includes AZEK Decking. TimberTech AZEK offers a portfolio of capped polymer and capped composite decking as well as railing, porch decking, lighting and paver products. AZEK Exteriors features unique trim and molding.

Avon Plastics (Paynesville, MN) featured its building material brands Armadillo Composite Decking, Grid Axcents Decorative Lattice and more. The company claims to be one of the largest and most experienced recyclers of HDPE. It combines a mix of 50% HDPE and 50% recycled sawdust to form the core of its low-maintenance wood plastic composite (WPC) decking products.

Trex Co. (Winchester, VA) showcased its Trex Cladding, the newest offering that makes hardwood planks obsolete in modern rainscreen systems, delivering high aesthetics with fade and stain resistance while eliminating the need for annual sanding and sealing. A rainscreen is an exterior wall detail where the siding stands off from the moisture-resistant surface of an air barrier applied to the sheeting to create a capillary break and allow drainage and evaporation. Trex Cladding uses square-edge Trex Transcend deck boards to enhance curb appeal. The open-joint facade system promotes airflow over the water-resistant barrier behind the cladding, providing worry-free armor for any rainscreen assembly.

Trex cladding
Trex Cladding boards are made from 95% recycled plastic and reclaimed wood scrap. Image courtesy Trex Co.

Trex boards are made from 95% recycled plastic and reclaimed wood scrap, and are backed by a 25-year product and fade and stain warranties for both commercial and residential projects.

MoistureShield (Springdale, AR) showcased its moisture-resistant decking products, featuring images of its decking in underwater scenes at its booth. MoistureShield’s products were also submerged in an actual water fountain and pool just to prove the company’s claims. The moisture resistance is produced via the company’s Solid Core technology, which creates an impermeable barrier that fights against damage from moisture, rot, insects and harmful elements.

MoistureShield’s latest product, Elevate capped wood-composite decking, was offered at select locations in 2019, but launched nationwide at the IBS event in Las Vegas. Elevate features a protective cap that shields each board from damage. Additionally, Elevate was a finalist in the National Association of Home Builder’s Most Innovative Products in the Best of the IBS Awards. Elevate is ideal for cool-decking around pools because of its “CoolDeck” technology, and for marinas and docks.

While there are many more indoor and outdoor applications for plastics in building and construction, these few examples show just how far plastics have come in helping to create long-lasting building materials that also offer great design aesthetics and unique architectural features.

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