Walking the International Builders Show 2010 (Jan. 19-21) at the Las Vegas Convention Center revealed a lot about where the building and construction market is headed with respect to alternative building materials that meet today's consumers' demands for easy installation, maintenance-free products. One example, newly introduced at the show, is LifeTime Lumber, billed as a low-maintenance, eco-friendly and fire-resistant wood-alternative decking, fencing, and dock material. It's akin to a wood/plastic composite, just without the wood.
LifeTime Lumber is a very different material—made from inert material recovered from the electric power-generation industry and containing no wood at all. It does contain thermoset polymers combined in a patented mixture with fly ash, a non-hazardous inert material, extruded with a polyurethane outer layer. The resulting wood-alternative lumber will not be affected by termites, doesn't allow for growth of mold or mildew, absorbs no water, and won't significantly expand or contract.
"This alternative doesn't even have the problems that wood-plastic composites have because there's absolutely no wood in LifeTime Lumber," said James Mahler Jr., president of LifeTime Lumber, headquartered in Carlsbad, CA. "Because of that, it doesn't need fungicides, herbicides, or another other 'cides' in the mixture." The lumber is extruded at a facility in Brodhead, WI, that makes polyurethane products for the automotive industry. —Clare Goldsberry