What product should I choose?
This is a commonly asked question but not that easy to answer, and let’s be honest, many composite companies will always try and bias it towards their own product without spending the time to familiarize themselves with the facts.
The common uneducated phrase we always hear is “it doesn’t split, crack, warp or rot like timber”.
Let’s take a look at the comparisons between ThermoWood’s and Wood Plastic Composites.
Thermally Modified (ThermoWood) Products:
ThermoWood products are 100% natural and the production process consists of just steam, pressure and heat. It’s a completely ecological, natural process from start to finish.
Starting at the procurement stage of the raw materials through to the installation of the end product, ThermoWood’s do not use any chemicals.
The bonding waters in the timbers’ cell structure are removed. Thus, the Thermally Modified timber becomes dimensionally stable and durable for outdoor applications and therefore becoming suitable for all weather conditions.
In principle, Thermally Modifying the timber enhances durability and stability of less durable timber species. Making them suitable for use internally and externally no matter what the environment is, reducing the need to source timber from tropical forests around the world such as the Amazon region.
It is recyclable, harmless to all living species and can be maintained and renewed with little to no additional cost.
ThermoWood timbers have a low carbon footprint and with the increasing use of timber, its absorption of gas emissions like CO2 also improves the management of controlled forests.
It is an excellent product for accepting any kind of surface treatment due to its low moisture content, stability, and no resin/knot bleed.
The lighter weight of the material and structural advantages makes it easier to transport and install. In the case of cladding applications, ThermoWood’s provide up to 20% better sound and heat insulation.
An added bonus during the hot summer months is that you can still walk our Thermally Modified timber in bare feet, since the product absorbs heat and provides a lower surface temperature.
Wood Plastic Composites (WPC)
WPC products have increased their market position in the last few years.
As a new product in the market, the results have not been clarified yet in terms of performance and the impact on nature. The product also occupies landfill sites when disposed of.
Although WPC’s use the word ‘WOOD’ in its definition, the ratio of plastic in the product accounts for 60-90% of petroleum waste during the manufacturing process of that this product goes through.
It is a common misconception that these products are stable. WPC’s infact expand and shrink along its length by 1-2mm to every meter.
As it is not a natural product, meaning that when the board gets damaged, scratched or fades, it is not possible to restore its original colour, as you could with wood. Replacing this product would also result in a mis-matching the original and new colour. In this case, you are advised to order sufficient material for a project at the initial stage.
Due to the amount of plastic present in the product the surface temperature can be high during warm weather. Consequently, making it uncomfortable to walk on in bare feet. The heat is reflected up to the surface, creating a similar experience to walking on hot tarmac.
Many attempts are made at trying to replicate the grain and aesthetic look of timber, which of course is not entirely possible. Resulting in decking and cladding boards looking the same, with an unnatural appearance.
Ultimately the choice is yours in terms of the look and aesthetic appeal that you want to achieve in the medium to long term with your next project.