Opportunities for woodfiber-plastic composites in the U.S. recreational bridge market

Daniel F. McGraw, Paul M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The wood-plastic composite (WPC) industry has emerged in the last decade largely in response to consumer demands for low-maintenance and durable timber construction and increased environmental regulations of preservative treated lumber. Currently valued at nearly $1 billion (retail USD), the natural-fiber polymer composite industry has primarily focused on residential products such as exterior decking, railing, doors, and windows. However, the industry has the potential to expand into a host of new products, including structural components for housing, marine, and transportation infrastructure applications. This research investigates the use, selection, and distribution of industrial infrastructure materials used in recreational bridge decking. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-FS) Regional Bridge Engineers, Professional Trailbuilders Association (PTBA) members, and Bridge Manufacturing firms in the recreational bridge construction industry were examined via surveys. The findings indicate that the most important recreational bridge decking material/service attributes are Durability and Strength. The most important reasons for new product adoption were Cost and Durability. The most appealing WPC attributes were Durability and Environmental with Strength and Aesthetics being the least appealing attributes. Decking and Railing were named as the top two applications for WPC substitution. The most important information sources were Word of Mouth (Vendors and Peers), Seminars/Conferences, and the Internet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalForest Products Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • General Materials Science
  • Plant Science


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