Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are composite materials made of wood fiber/wood flour and thermoplastic(s) such as PE, PP, PVC, or PLA.
In addition to wood fiber and plastic, WPCs can also contain other ligno-cellulosic and/or inorganic filler materials. WPCs are a subset of a larger category of materials called natural fiber plastic composites (NFPCs), which may contain no cellulose-based fiber fillers such as pulp fibers, peanut hulls, bamboo, straw, digestate, etc.
Wood-plastic composites are still new materials relative to the long history of natural lumber as a building material. The most widespread use of WPCs in North America is in outdoor deck floors, but it is also used for railings, fences, landscaping timbers, cladding and siding, park benches, molding and trim, window and door frames, and indoor furniture. Wood-plastic composites were first introduced into the decking market in the early 1990s. Manufacturers claim that wood-plastic composite is more environmentally friendly and requires less maintenance than the alternatives of solid wood treated with preservatives or solid wood of rot-resistant species. These materials can be molded with or without simulated wood grain details.