Demand in the United States for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber will grow 9.2% a year to be a $5.3 billion market in 2013, the Freedonia Group forecast today. Decking and fencing are expected to see above-average gains, while molding and trim will have below-average growth, having "already attained substantial market penetration."

"Gains will be driven by continued consumer acceptance of these products as replacements for more traditional materials, such as natural wood," the Cleveland-based economic forecast group said in a news release. "Composite and plastic lumber will increasingly be desired due to their long lifespans, minimal maintenance requirements, resistance to degredation caused by insect attack and exposure to the elements, and the ability to be cut and hewn like natural wood.

"Moreover, the increasing perception of these materials as environmentally friendly products, due to the incorporation of recycled materials, will promote further demand," the Freedonia Group added.

It forecast that the market for plastic lumber grew in dollar terms from $1.42 billion in 2003 to $1.98 billion in 2008--a 6.8% annual growth rate. From now through 2013, Freedonia sees the rate increasing to 8.2% per year, pushing plastic wood to become a $2.94 billion market.

Meanwhile, the market for wood-plastic composite lumber, which grew 13.5% per year from $760 million in 2003 to $1.43 billion in 2008, will climb just 10.5% annually through 2013, to $2.37 billion. "Gains will be driven by ongoing consumer interest in wood-plastic material as a substitute for wood," Freedonia said. "Moreover, as decks will continue to be seen as a highly desirable addition to the home, more homeowners will install them, further promoting demand advances for composite lumber."