Decks and Fire Pits

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High Density Polyethylene

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ABOVE: TREX ADIRONDACK STYLE CHAIRS Photo: Courtesy of Trex.com
The companies that make composite decking don't always reveal what types of "plastic" they are using. There are several logical reasons. One is that each company has its own formulation of LDPE, PVC, or HDPE, or Polypropylene so that even if they did identify the type of polymer, it wouldn't be the whole story. And of course exactly how they make their products are reasonably trade secrets. Another reason is that they don't want to focus too much on the type of polymer, because they are promoting other features of their decking, such as the natural grain appearance or how waterproof it is.
Typical composite decking has two material components. One is the core, which is often a "wood-plastic" blend, and the other is the cap or outside layer that provides the grain texture and coloring as well as waterproofing. A mix of wood fiber and Low Density Polyethylene (from recycled plastic grocery bags) with a PVC cap is typical of composite decking. So when I saw Adirondack chairs on the Trex web site, my first reaction was that makes perfect sense. If the decking is weather proof, why not make outdoor furniture from the same material? That turned out to be wrong.
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Quality outdoor furniture is a different challenge from decking, so a different type of material is needed. High Density Polyethylene is the ideal solution. It is harder and more rigid than other polymers. It is also more scratch-resistant, and heat resistant. Known generically as "HDPE dimensional lumber," it can be worked in the same way wood can be worked, which means it can cut with a saw, drilled with a drill, planed, etc. It is also relatively easy to recycle and extruded into boards of different sizes.
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Above: Renew® dimensional lumber by Revolve Plastics
HDPE is commonly found in household plastic containers such as milk jugs, detergent containers, shampoo bottles, white pill bottles, bleach containers, etc. The recycling process involves shredding, cleaning, separating impurities, and pelletizing. Colorants are added and an extrusion process produces "dimensional lumber."
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Polywood®

In 1990 two friends in Syracuse, Indiana started making outdoor furniture from HDPE lumber, starting with Adirondack style chairs. That endeavor became the Poly-Wood furniture company. Today Polywood offers a wide range of furniture styles from traditional to modern. There are other companies that recycle the milk jugs, detergent bottles, etc., but Polywood alone recycles an average of 400,000 milk jugs per day.
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Above: Polywood's "Harbour Collection" Photo courtesy of Polywood.com © Poly-Wood LLC, Syracuse, IN
In 30 years, the company's furniture has come a long way from its original Adirondack chair with upscale furniture like its Harbor Collection (above). Unlike molded plastic furniture, Polywood® furniture is made the same way wood furniture is made. It is sawed, milled, drilled, and fastened with stainless steel screws. In 2018, the company opened a manufacturing and distribution center in North Carolina to expand its capacity and meet the growing demand for its well made outdoor furniture, which is now available in showrooms across the country. The company's web site is worth the visit:
https://www.polywood.com
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Seaside Casual

A Rhode Island lumber yard that opened for business in 1911 and stayed in the family is at the heart of a great American enterprise story. The door shop at Arnold Lumber Company in Kingston, RI was making Adirondack chairs from Mahogany. Art Arnold, grandson of the founder, saw opportunity when the chairs became popular and opened the Seaside Casual Furniture company. Sales grew, and in 1999, started making its furniture from EnviroWood®, recycled HDPE lumber. Under the leadership of Kate Arnold Carret, the company embraced a policy of developing new designs. Now, with over 16 distinct style collections, the company offers very stylish designs covering a broad range of outdoor applications.
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Photos in this section are from the Seaside Casual 2021 Catalog and are copyrighted by Seaside Casual Furniture Co.
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Seaside Casual Furniture, with its emphasis on design, has expanded the concept with a number of bar stool height chairs and table sets. One design feature is complementary colors, such as white legs and blue seating. Since the color is in the material, no paint is involved. This furniture will never weather or need to be repainted. Rhode Island, where the furniture is hand crafted, is very closely associated with the ocean, and the beach or marina atmosphere inspires a lot of the company's unique designs.
To see the full selection of this furniture visit:
http://www.seasidecasual.com/
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Photo: Courtesy of Trex.com.

Trex® Outdoor Furniture

TheTrex company, more than the other decking companies, has expanded what it offers to include, not only deck railing, lighting, etc. but also outdoor kitchens and outdoor furniture. Trex has its own selection of PolyWood® furniture designs.
https://www.trex.com/products/furniture/
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There are a number of smaller companies that make HDPE outdoor furniture. Several are Amish. Many were making wood furniture before HDPE became a thing. An internet search will turn up a lot of sources. Most web sites you find will be resellers, not the actual people who make the furniture. The good news is that as far as I can tell all or nearly all of this type of furniture is made by American craftsmen. This kind of furniture is more expensive than the outdoor sets you will find at Home Depot and similar outlets, but it is solid and will last as long as you are around to appreciate it.