Despite the severe decline in demand for new houses and large-scale remodeling projects, sales of wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber are projected to swell 9.2% each year to $5.3 billion in 2013 because of increasing consumer acceptance, according to the Wood-Plastic Composite & Plastic Lumber study released by the Freedonia Group.

Composite and plastic lumber are increasingly desired due to their long life spans, minimal maintenance requirements, resistance to the degradation caused by insects and exposure to the elements, and the ability to be cut and hewn like natural wood, the report states.

In addition, the burgeoning perception of these materials as green products, due to their longevity and the recycled content in many of the brands and/or the ability to be recycled, is further fueling demand. Finally, sales will rise with the rebound of residential construction in the upcoming years. 

Decking will continue to be the leading application for composite and plastic lumber. While decks made from these materials may cost more than wood ones, composite-plastic decks can cost less over the long term, the report notes.

Molding and trim will remain a key market for composite and plastic lumber, but will see below-average growth because they already attained substantial market penetration. But demand for composite and plastic lumber in landscape and outdoor products, windows and doors, and other applications will continue to rise because of consumer recognition of their performance properties and their growing image as ecologically friendly products.

The report concludes that wood-plastic composite lumber will post more rapid gains than plastic lumber, advancing 10.5% annually to $2.4 billion in 2013. Plastic lumber sales are forecasted to rise 8.2% each year to $2.9 billion in three years.