Still some promise in tough B&C market

By: 
March 05, 2009


Housing starts in the U.S. have plummeted to the lowest levels in decades, but that does not mean that the building and construction (B&C) market won’t continue to be one of the top end-use markets for plastics, especially once money from the federally-funded rescue plan filters into the market. For plastics processors interested in a contrarian bet on B&C, you could do worse than to consider injection molded siding, WPC siding, plastic roofing or even solar panels.

The evolution in the siding industry continues, as evidenced by the many styles of siding showcased at the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Jan. 20-23. At the show, CertainTeed, headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, introduced its newest shake siding product, Cedar Impressions Naturals plastic shake siding. These feature the look of cedar treated with a semi-transparent stain, but are injection molded from polypropylene.



Home, sweet home could include some molded cedar siding.



“For a homeowner looking to bring the bold sweeps of nature’s textures and colors to life, Cedar Impressions Naturals is the perfect cladding,” said Phyllis Vail, director of marketing communications for CertainTeed’s Siding Products Group. “The colors of Cedar Impressions Naturals create a look of distinction and rustic beauty for an entire home or smaller accent area.” The siding has reinforcing ribs on nail slots and lock tabs for improved strength. Ribs on the back of the panels provide structural stability for added protection against warping, cupping and/or distortion.

Wood-plastic composite (WPC) siding is also coming on strong. WPC siding manufacturer TechWood North America (Greenwood, SC) extrudes siding using a recipe of 75% long wood fibers and 25% virgin polypropylene. Peter Kotiadis, president and CEO, said that to make the siding look and feel like real wood siding, the company uses a patented “PushFusion” technology to make its Wood 2.0 siding products. PushFusion skims off the slick, plastic layer from the extruded lumber to give it a rough, wood-textured feel.

Like most WPC products, the siding can be nailed, cut, routed, drilled or sanded like wood and requires no special tools or delicate handling. Wood 2.0 can also be stained or painted using standard latex or oil coatings. If left untreated, it takes on a natural grey color.

Kotiadis noted in an interview at IBS 2009 that the Wood 2.0 siding planks have the strength and mass of fiber cement, and can be extruded in any length, which results in less scrap and fewer butt joints. “It’s got the ease of installation of vinyl siding because it interlocks like vinyl siding,” he said.
   
Plastic roofing offers fire, hail protection

Wildfires in southern California and hail that is regularly the size of golf balls in the United States’ “hail belt” created a demand for a non-wood alternative to shake roofs. At IBS 2009, Bayer MaterialScience introduced a lightweight, durable wood shake alternative, Ce-DUR, molded from Baydur 630 rigid polyurethane (PUR) foam.

Marketed through BaySystems, the umbrella brand for the supplier’s global PUR business unit, Ce-DUR shakes look like wood but are said meet the needs of consumers and insurers in wildfire and hail regions.

Eagle Roofing Products, a division of Burlingame Industries, has acquired the rights from Endurall Technologies to manufacture and distribute Ce-DUR. It uses a modified reaction injection molding (RIM) system to mold them, using actual cedar samples to create a realistic wood appearance. “We are constantly striving to improve the product’s durability, flame retardant properties and hail resistance, and Bayer MaterialScience continues to support our efforts in reaching those goals at the lowest possible price to our customers,” said Kevin Burlingame, president, Burlingame Industries. “With new regulations and insurance policies prohibiting the use of wood shakes cropping up in high-risk states, we wanted to offer customers the best alternative possible. Ce-DUR is that alternative.”

Ce-DUR is a closed-cell material that compresses at impact; as heat is absorbed through normal sun exposure, the compression relaxes and the cells return to their original state, repairing dents. Ce-DUR has a wind rating of up to 100 mph, and a 110-mph rating can be achieved by reducing the exposure and using special fasteners. A Class A fire rating is achievable with the installation of an underlayment. Weighing approximately 170 pounds per roofing square, the Ce-DUR shake requires no additional roof support or engineering as long as the existing building structure and deck are sound.

EcoStar, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials in Carlisle, PA, offers injection molded roofing shingles in a wide range of styles, patterns and colors. EcoStar manufactures its roofing tiles with an 80% recycled compound that includes both thermoplastics and rubber. Styles include the Seneca Cedar Shake, molded from recycled rubber (EPDM) and plastic (TPO) with a Class 4 impact resistance.

Dow buys big press for solar cell work

Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) announced its entrance into the solar energy field with its “Building-Integrated Photovoltaics” approach for roofing and siding shingles and fascias. The plastics supplier took delivery in November 2008 of a 1350-ton, tandem clamp injection molding press built at Husky’s facility in Luxembourg. Dow is adding a 21,000-sf facility expansion that will house the new press, offices and a laboratory. The molding machine is designed to mold integrated solar building materials, and is expected to be up and running by the end of 2009. This is part of a $50 million investment by Dow that will enable solar energy generation materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials, said Dow.

According to Bob Cleereman, Dow’s senior technical director for the project, “solar roofing shingles can be made and installed at a lower cost than existing solar technology which relies on glass panels.” Dow’s shingles are based on a photovoltaic material, called CIGS, and these cells are “packaged” within the roofing product to create a “solar shingle.” Cleereman says this approach helps lower fabrication and installation costs, because both the conventional and solar roofing shingles are installed at the same time. [email protected]

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