If there’s one thing we can say with certainty, it’s this – wood isn’t going anywhere. People have been making things from timber for hundreds of thousands of years. We know that even more than a million years ago, early humans were fashioning primitive tools out of wood, as well as stone and animal bones – and while there’s not much physical evidence left of their existence, countless forts, houses, boundaries and barriers have all been built using it.
It’s no surprise why – wood is naturally plentiful, renewable, strong and easy to cut and transport, not to mention extremely attractive to look at. In fact, you might find yourself wondering why we ever started using anything else. But as fantastic as it is, wood has drawbacks.
Why not wood?
Earlier, I said that thousands of buildings and other structures have been made out of it over the time human beings have been around. But the vast majority of those no longer exist. Why? Because wood is very difficult to maintain. Over the years exposed to the elements, it’s susceptible to rotting and warping – and preventing this means regular maintenance, which can be costly and time-consuming. That also means it tends to need replacing more often – which means that, despite its renewable nature, it can often end up having a bigger environmental impact as a result.
So, while timber will always have a presence in homes and gardens around the country, since the turn of the millennium, rapid advances in technology have seen traditional materials increasingly replaced with alternatives that are stronger, longer-lasting and easier to maintain.
One of those is wood-plastic composite – or WPC for short. First invented in Italy in the 1960s, WPC does what it says on the tin – it mixes ground wood particles and heated thermoplastic resin. WPC is such a fantastic material because it manages to deliver the timeless aesthetics of timber without the drawbacks – the need for constant upkeep most prominently of all.
WPC has quickly become a leading material in the decking sector, as well as becoming popular for fencing, cladding and more. It’s stronger than wood, longer-lasting and virtually maintenance-free – boasting resistance to fire, UV damage and splinters.
But WPC isn’t the only modern alternative challenging timber’s dominance. Aluminium was once a material you’d associate with sleek commercial buildings and high-end windows and doors – but now, the style and strength that’s made it so popular in other sectors is seeing it increasingly adopted elsewhere, too.
In recent years, it’s been incorporated in a whole range of fencing and other home improvement solutions. The characteristics that make it so popular in other sectors also make it perfect for outdoor applications – it’s extremely robust, simple to maintain, very lightweight and offers an excellent weight to strength ratio.
Speak to F.H. Brundle
In the years to come, we can expect further exciting advances in materials technology, producing options that are even more stylish, robust and easy to fit and maintain than the ones we have at the moment.
In the meantime, thousands of architects and self-builders around the country are already benefitting from the strength and stability of WPC and aluminium, among other alternatives – and if you’re interested in joining them, we’d be delighted to help. Find out more by visiting the F.H. Brundle website below.