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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Title: Durability of Wood-Plastic Composites

Source: Tenth International Conference on Wood & Biofiber Plastic Composites and Cellulose Nanocomposites Sysmposium, May 11-13, Madison, WI. Madison, WI : Forest Products Society, c2010. ISBN 978-1-892529-55-8. pp. 71-75; 2010

Author(s)Morrell, J.J.; Stark, Nicole M.; Pendleton, David E.; McDonald, Armando G.

Publication Year: 2010  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4706-2A

Abstract: Until recently, markets for wood-plastic composites (WPCs) have grown at an astounding rate, despite their higher overall costs compared to naturally durable or treated wood (Smith and Wolcott 2006). Surveys suggest that these products have excellent reputations for durability and environmental friendliness and there is an overall perception that WPCs are maintenance-free. When they first emerged on the market, wood plastic composites (WPCs) were touted as impervious to biological attack because the plastic was presumed to completely encapsulate the wood particles, thereby protecting them from both moisture and fungal attack. However, WPC decks in Florida showed evidence of fungal fruiting bodies on the surfaces within a few years after installation, illustrating that the wood in these materials was still susceptible to biodeterioration (Morris and Cooper 1998). An array of subsequent studies have clearly illustrated that the wood in many WPCs remains susceptible to degradation (Khavkine et al. 2000, Laks et al. 2000, Mankowski and Morrell 2000, Silva et al. 2001, Verhey et al. 2001, Ibach and Clemons 2002, Pendleton et al. 2002, Silva Guzman 2003, Lopez et al. 2005, Schirp and Wolcott 2005, Schauwecker et al. 2006, McDonald et al. 2009). While great improvements have been made in product formulations designed to increase durability, it is clear that these materials are not completely immune to deterioration, but how susceptible are they? Deterioration is broadly defined as any negative effect on the properties of a material (Zabel and Morrell 1992). The effects can be due to biological attack or to various non-living agents (sunlight, moisture, temperature), but often deterioration results from a combination of factors. Nowhere is this more evident than with WPCs, owing to the marriage of dissimilar materials.

Keywords: Wood-plastic composites, composite materials, deterioration, weathering, ultraviolet radiation, color fading, moisture, biodegradation, marine borers, insect pests, wood-decaying fungi, temperature, mechanical properties, stabilizing agents, accelerated life testing, elasticity, modulus of elasticity, flexure, wood-plastic materials, durability, discoloration, moisture content, decay fungi, resistance to decay, failure, fungi, photodegradation, photostabilization, surface properties, accelerated testing

Publication Review Process: Non-Refereed (Other)

File size: 103 kb(s)

Date posted: 05/17/2010
RITS Product ID: 35748
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Stark, Nicole M.
Research Chemical Engineer

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