Fifthroom Living


What is Poly Lumber?

You may have encountered a material being used in the construction of outdoor furniture that goes by the name of Poly Lumber. This material may be somewhat self-explanatory, but in a sense, it is rather vague as well. What is Poly Lumber? How is it made? Why is it a good choice for outdoor furniture? Today, we’ll be answering many of those questions.


First, what is it and how is it made? Poly Lumber is actually 100% recycled material that has gone through a series of processes to be cleaned and shaped into various objects. In technical terms, Poly Lumber is made of “High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), UV-inhibited pigment systems, foaming compounds, and selected process additives.” It is derived from consumer waste and post-industrial material. (Generally, this means plastic milk and detergent bottles.) These materials undergo a cleaning and decontamination process in order to gain the highest level of purity and remove contaminants such as food residue, paper, and adhesives. Afterward, the remaining substance is compounded into a board of rigid stock material, that appears much like actual lumber.


Poly Lumber is defined as a recyclable lumber that is low maintenance. The material in which it is made makes it highly durable and resistant to inclement weather and other environmental stressors. It is used as a substitute for wood in the constructing of outdoor furniture like benches, chairs, tables, couches, and the like. Poly Lumber can also be painted a wide variety of colors and will not fade.

Another unique characteristic of Poly Lumber is that it will last a lifetime and doesn’t absorb moisture, meaning that it won’t crack, splinter, or rot. It doesn’t require any special chemicals or coatings to maintain, there is no need for sanding or staining, and when it comes to cleaning, soap and water or a power wash under 1,500 psi will do the trick. Poly Lumber is also resistant to corrosive substances like fuels and oils as well as insects and salt sprays. It can be left outdoors during all seasons and suffer no adverse effects. Poly Lumber is also sturdier and heavier than flimsy plastic furniture, so it’s unlikely that it’ll be blown away by strong winds.


Poly Lumber Cozi-Back Tete-a-Tete

With all of these advantages, it makes sense why this material would be a great choice for outdoor furniture. But we should also consider the disadvantages of this material. Poly Lumber is much more expensive than other plastics and it is much heavier due to its high strength-to-density-ratio. This material is also rather stiff, meaning that it will not conform to your body over a period of time. Some materials wear down or soften due to use but Poly Lumber will remain in the shape that it was initially molded into because the HDPE is so rigid.


Poly Lumber Outdoor Bar Stool

So why was Poly Lumber made? It was developed in the 1980’s as a means to combat the expansive amount of non-recycled plastics in landfills. Having been derived from recycled materials, Poly Lumber was a solution that could continuously be recycled, and therefore, not perpetuate waste. It was also recognized as a method to promote the conservation of trees.

Polywood© was the first to develop furniture grade recycled plastic but were soon surrounded by competition. Now, the industry is so refined and efficient that manufacturers can create a new piece of Poly Lumber furniture with minimal waste in a record-breaking 28 seconds.


Poly Lumber 3 Piece Classic Terrace Deep Seating Sofa Set w/Sunbrella Cushions

It makes sense that Poly Lumber would be an ideal material for outdoor furniture because of its durability, versatility, and long-lasting nature. Perhaps, the biggest downside is that it does not provide a fresh, cedar scent.

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