Two popular “wood-look” building materials, wood-plastic composite (WPC) and plastic lumber, are projected to gain market share on competitive materials, such as natural wood, according to The Freedonia Group. Demand for WPC and plastic lumber in the United States is forecast to rise 3.7% annually to $4.9 billion in 2024, according to the Cleveland-based research organization. Despite some economic weakness from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, demand is expected to be sustained in 2020 and see healthy advances in the ensuing four years.

WPC and plastic lumber are growing in popularity because they offer performance and pricing advantages over natural wood, particularly in exterior applications such as decking, fencing, and trim. Additionally, the wood-look alternatives require less maintenance and do not need to be replaced as frequently as natural wood. WPC products employ recycled materials and therefore also benefit from a positive environmental profile. The growing availability of WPC and plastic lumber products that mimic the aesthetic and texture of natural wood will positively impact future demand, according to The Freedonia Group.

Plastic lumber sales are forecast to outpace WPC lumber sales based on plastic lumber’s superior performance compared to WPC, including greater durability and resistance to moisture. Plastic lumber will also benefit from advances in cellular PVC technology that improve the products’ ability to resemble natural wood, a key factor in the residential market, and the ease of installation in trim applications. Plastic lumber’s sales are expected to be positively impacted by a leading market position in molding and trim, a dominant share of fencing demand, and a growing penetration in the decking market.

The Freedonia Group’s full report, WPC & Plastic Lumber, is available for purchase for $5,500. The study examines the U.S. market for both products using historical data from 2009, 2014, and 2019 to make forecasts for 2024 and 2029.