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10 Materials That Could Replace Wood One Day

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10 Materials That Could Replace Wood One Day

By Steve Graham, Hometalk

Whether framing a new addition, building a deck or making a piece of furniture, wood is often the go-to material. Lumber, plywood and other products made with sustainably harvested wood are widely available and relatively inexpensive. However, there are environmental costs and structural drawbacks to many traditional wood products. Plenty of creative alternatives to wood are available. Here is a sampling of wood alternatives, most with some environmental advantages, for home construction and remodeling projects.

1. Hemp

Hemp is a fast-growing and sustainable crop that generates more construction-grade fiber per acre than most trees and other crops. It can be used in place of lumber and a wide range of other materials. For example, Washington State University researchers found hemp-based medium density fibreboard to be twice as strong as wood.

2. Bamboo

Bamboo is often considered a wood, but this grass is really a wood alternative. It has been called the world’s most useful plant (though hemp advocates might argue otherwise). Bamboo is fast-growing but at least as strong as some slow-growth woods. It is a very trendy (and somewhat controversial) flooring option. It is also used in furniture and a wide variety of other construction materials.

3. Wood composites

As the name suggests, composite materials combine wood with recycled plastics or other components. As compared to lumber, composites are a more sustainable way to use trees. For example, composite deck boards can be made with scrap wood fiber leftover from cutting solid hardwood deck boards. Composite decks and other products also have other advantages over hardwood. They require virtually no finishing, staining or maintenance, and are very durable.

4. Plastic wood

Another growing segment of the deck market is basically the plastic — recycled or not — of composites without any wood fibers. Like composite decking, plastic wood requires no maintenance. Of course, it’s hard to make plastic look exactly like wood, so it’s not a perfect aesthetic substitute. However, in many other ways, composites and plastic wood are good hardwood alternatives.

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Read more: Conservation, Crafts & Design, Green Home Decor, Home, Household Hints, Materials & Architecture, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , ,

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Networx.com empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.

37 comments

+ add your own
10:57PM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

hi everyone, please sign this petition and help
www.thepetitionsite.com/1/heidi---a-girl-of-the-alps/

11:03PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Great list! Thanks for sharing!

12:33PM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

Noted with interest.

11:48AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Thank you for the interesting article

11:16AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

noted

9:19AM PDT on Jul 12, 2011

Whatevers sustainable.

8:49AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

The only way I'd consider plastic is if it was recycled. Haven't really looked up much about hemp, but it's definitely on the radar now!

8:56AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

It would help more to just cut back on the size of our living spaces. Then when we do build or expand use recycled lumbers. in my town it is against the building codes to use recycled lumber in the framing of any buildings which is a total waist they should be forcing the recycling of all construction materials.

4:04PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

Hmmm . . . several of these products are mixed with some kind of resin. What are these resins made from?

NO to plastic - composite, on its own or otherwise!!!

Fibreboard is highly dubious. It exudes toxic fumes.

12:02PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

May that day come soon.

Save our trees!

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