Alternatives to Traditional Lumber

As efforts towards higher levels of sustainability continue to grow, builders may want to look to viable alternatives to wood. Although wood is a classic building material choice, it’s used in large quantities, leading to a lot tree consumption. Moreover, wood usually requires chemical treatments that protect it from pests, water, and sun discoloration. These chemicals are often harmful to organisms and even to people who come into contact with them before they’ve fully absorbed into the wood or when they disperse through their surroundings. Considering this, here are a couple alternatives to traditional lumber that you may want to employ in your next project. Using these kinds of materials in place of wood may do the environment good as well as help attract customers to your business.


In many ways, bamboo resembles the wood it can replace. It’s plant-based and sturdy enough to use in various structures, and it still has the ability to be cut into the shapes needed by the designer. However, it outshines wood in its speed of development. Whereas most trees take many years, if not decades, to reach a suitable size, bamboo can grow to a harvestable height in only a few years. Bamboo is also lighter than wood and unsusceptible to fire, and it can be treated with natural smoking rather than with chemicals.

Plastic Lumber

Plastic lumber performs all the same functions as regular wood, but it’s more environmentally friendly. This is because it can be made of recycled HDPE plastic from post-consumer waste, such as milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles. Without being redirected into this application, the plastic would contribute to pollution. In addition, plastic lumber needs no chemical treatment whatsoever. UV protectors can be put directly into its formula to stop discoloration. Furthermore, because it’s made of plastic, it cannot be broken down by decomposers. Aesthetically, plastic lumber can fit into a wide range of roles since its color and texture can be changed according to the needs of the project.

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Written by Logan Voss

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