Surfaces Reporter first studied this material a few years back and could tell that it showed promise.
In the current situation, WPC is fast gaining momentum in the Indian market. Initially, only focused as a decking material, today we see WPC in a wide variety of application including doors, railing, pergolas, façade and furniture to name a few.
WPC comes with the benefits of Water resistance, no decay, no borer attack, higher flexibility, a variety of colours and smooth finish. As per experts, WPC has widely penetrated the market, particularly since last 2-3 years. SURFACES REPORTER looks at some aspects of the material that makes it unique and broadens the horizon of its application possibilities.
WOOD PLASTIC COMPOSITE
Wood Plastic Composite is a combination of wood flour powder; saw dust, fibre fillers like pulp, hulls & bamboo and thermoplastics, which mostly include new or waste plastic from materials such as polyethene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, etc. Polyethene-based WPCs are by far the most common.
Additives such as colourants, coupling agents, UV stabilizers, blowing agents, foaming agents, and lubricants help tailor the end product to the target area of application. The common technology used in production is to extrude the material through injection moulding and extruded materials are formed into solid panels.
DO YOU KNOW?
WPC is Not At All PLASTIC
Despite being a COMPOSITE, it is composed of a biodegradable material other than plastic like agriculture residues like Cotton stalks, Coir fibres and even Rice Husk. WPC is made from waste products and 100% recycled materials made of wood mass, wood waste, agriculture waste, and Plastic waste. Accordingly, when compared to the felling, stripping and lumbering of natural wood, the production of WPC is more environmentally friendly. Although energy produced and used in manufacturing WPC results in a certain amount of C02 emissions, such emissions are minimized by exhaust scrubbing thereby minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Because the extrusion process allows nearly 100% material usages, there is almost no waste of the recycled input materials used in making WPC. It is free from emissions like Formaldehyde, Melamine/Phenol which we know in
wood due to binders like Urea.
WPCs are an alternative and eco-friendly material to be used instead of Timber or Plywood and its biggest strength lies in its ability to resist rotting and decaying and is considered to reduce environmental impact.
Paramjeet Singh Taggar, Country Head (WPC), Alstone Industries said, “In today’s time everyone wants green and new products in the market. As woods are getting costlier day by day we are giving a perfect solution as an alternative which is much better and durable than wood. We are offering WPC doors and doorframes.”
WPC and PVC are Not the Same
People are not aware of WPC and most of the people do not know the difference in WPC and PVC. Only 8% people are aware of it that are associated with institutions or companies. The market for WPC/PVC board in India is measuring quality with the weight of the board and its pricing but hardly few are aware that only weight is not the right parameter to check quality. The price conscious people are wrongfully selling PVC board of very poor quality that has every chance to damage the product reputation in beginning. Judging Board quality on the basis of price and weight Instead of the screw holding, foam formation, uniformity of foaming, adequate hardness and undulation in board kind of properties is a result of lack of knowledge and awareness.
WPC Can be Recycled and Reused
Unlike other Surface materials like plywood, MDF, HPL, WPC does not need a surface protection, thus it saves surface coating cost, labor cost and time. It is 100% recyclable, thus many manufacturers sell it with buyback guarantee. Any time in the future, WPC material in plain condition can give equal value to the client at the price he purchased. They can get at least 20% of its money back if furniture is made with WPC panels.
WPC is not just for DECKING – Application possibilities are expanding
Well, it did start as the most convenient option for decking which is still the most popular choice WPCs planks are used as decking materials in form of tiles and planks for gardens and exteriors, near swimming pools and landscaped lawns for its durability and ease of maintenance as they do not need oiling, polishing or coloring as regular timber that loses its textures and polish over a period of time. WPC decking is a new eco- friendly functional attractive decking for outdoor use.
According to Architect & Interior Designer Chirag Swain of Chirag Design Studio, “WPCs are now one of the most preferred materials for exterior claddings as a facade material for building elevations and facade treatments. It is so used for its almost real like texture and look and feel as wood as is it is imprinted on it yet it is more lightweight, durable and ease of application and maintenance. It is considerably cheaper compared to traditional pressure treated timber to manufacture and hence is budget friendly.”
He also adds that other applications of WPC is gaining momentum too due to its advantages, “Customized Gazebos in different sizes and shapes are now available replacing the cast iron and wooden gazebos for its resistance against bacterial and organic decaying in extreme climatic conditions like heat, humidity, rain and snow. The use of WPCs is now seen in exterior garden furniture and fences replacing timber. And it is used in the manufacture of exterior playing equipments for kids.”
Due to its lightweight nature, they are commonly used on terraces and balconies. Flower pots and landscaped materials are now widely available made in WPCs as they can be given any desired look and feel due to its availability to be
molded and imprinted on it.
WPCs being anti-corrosion, antibacterial and anti-aging are also used as a flooring material for interiors replacing hardwood or engineered wood floorings as splintering and warping don’t take place in it. WPCs is now widely being used as partitions in bathrooms and kitchens and as wall cladding materials inside bathrooms and as false ceiling materials too.
Solid WPC Doors which is a thicker WPC board actually are also quite popular. Available in 700 kg/m3 their WPC door frame ALSTONE CHAUKHAT is a GRIHA Approved 100 per cent water and termite-proof, solid fire retardant with zero shrinkage which keeps door operating and looking great for years. It gives authentic beauty and strength. The door is manufactured with photo polymerisation technology which is water, termite and temperature proof.
WPC can be a Healthy Option for Kitchens as Well
WPCs boards are used instead of plywood and marine boards in kitchens to make modular units as their shutters and base materials as they are moisture and heat resistant than traditional materials. They are more resistant to water compared to wood and can be used molded into different shapes and sizes to form boards of desired thickness. AMULYA MICA recently forayed into WPC with their new product. The specialty of their product is its LEAD Free production.
WPC Can be Fire Retardant
Some WPC products can be fire retardant in the sense that it does not support fire to spread. However, it must be noted that the types of plastics normally used in WPC formulations have higher fire hazard properties than wood alone, as plastic has a higher chemical heat content and can melt. The inclusion of plastic as a portion of the composite results in the potential for higher fire hazards in WPCs as compared with wood. Studies also suggest that increasing the wood fibre content in the wood plastic composites significantly improved the fire performance of that of the plastic.
WPC can be Applied with Normal Carpenter Tools
The use of WPCs ranges from its uses in structural and non-structural applications. A good quality product can be cut, drilled, nailed and sanded like normal wood based boards. All these processes can be done with normal carpenter tools.
Quality is the Key Deciding Factor
Not all WPC products are made the same, the quality of the product will depend on the quality of material used and the advanced technology used. Sanjay Gulvady, Managing Partner, Everwood, An INDIGO Enterprise sited that the primary consideration would be high quality raw material (wood/cellulose powder and polymer grade). UV stabilizers and other additives play the important role against fading and degeneration in our tropical weather conditions. Also importantly, the quality of extrusion and finishing are results of advanced technology and machinery, which eventually define the look and feel of the finished product The primary challenge in India will be when WPC is commoditized. Dumping of low cost and in turn low quality material will be a deterrent to WPC evolving as a material of the future, he further adds.
Quality Differs from Brand to Brand
While India is one of the fastest growing markets for WPC in the world, we need proper promotion and technical understanding. Product awareness & marketing is a challenge as of now. People are waiting for large players and big brands in this market to create mass awareness about the product and gain recognition from architects, interiors, plywood dealers and a retail customer as well as needs promotion in electronic media to reach to the end user. At present there are no standardised guidelines of quality manufacturing or regulations for WPC manufacturing. Irrespective of the rates, product and positioning the awareness among the industry professionals should be to give quality product and standardised with BIS. The dimensions and product characteristics should be at par with the standard set by the industry. It is very much required to boost the product in the market.
Screwability is the main issue of WPC doors, if the material is not good, it will create problem with passage of time. There is a need to edcucate local carpenter for its use with PVC solvent and its easiest joinery system. He should be educated for screwing, fixing and assembling mechanisms because it is easier than plywood and MDF. There are glues and self-adhesive tapes available for surface lamination of HPL, Acrylic, Stainless steel plates and works faster than all other systems with WPVC.
How to Check the Quality of WPC Product
As a general rule, higher the density, the better will be the product. The screw holding capacity, the resistance capacity and flexural strength all depend upon the density of WPC material. The minimum density required for a good quality WPC is .60 gm/cm3.
- For WPC boards - the quality of foaming, surface hardness, thickness and density should be considered for check. Density should play around 550 kg/cum for reasonable screw holding.
- For WPC door frames – density, dimensional stability and colours should be checked. Density should be around 750 kg/cum for better screw holding.
- For WPC decking – the quality of surface (with sanding/embossing/brushing), thickness, colour, dimensional stability and impact strength should be checked.
The extrusion process allows nearly 100% material usages, there is almost no waste of the recycled input materials used in making WPC. Also, it is free from emissions.
To paste laminate or veneer on WPC use fevicol or 3m double sided tape or Lohman double-sided tape.
- Before pasting laminate scrub the surface with 80 no. sandpaper.
- To paste 2 boards together or to paste two edges of WPC together, use cement solvent / PVC solvent.
- To cover the edges Board, use PVC tapes
- For paint, first apply PVC primer.
- Single side laminate pasting will cause 0.25 mm to 0.50 mm warping in shutter. To avoid this there should be at least liner laminate inside the shutter.
- Store the WPC/PVC stock in horizontal position stacking only.
- For hinges in 30 mm or above door applications, use the screws and not nails.
- To cut the board use branded electric saw.
- To make wardrobes the max.dimension of the shelf should be 3.5 ft by 1.25 ft. for more than this size, there should be a vertical supporting partition of 18 mm board in the middle of the shelf.
- Maximum length of the wardrobe shutter should be 7 feet only.
- Shelf and shutters should be made by 18 mm elite HD board only. Wall panelling should be done with 6 or 8 mm premium board. Use CNC machine to form jaali designs on PVC Boards.
Do not use the WPC board for linter shuttering civil work.
- Do not use nails on premium board.
- Do not paint the board without the PVC primer.
- Do not use the normal fevicol SR adhesive to work with PVC/WPC boards.
- Do not put hot kitchen utensils directly on the PVC Board as it will cause melting impressions if the temperature is more than 70-degree centigrade.
- Do not use laser cutter on the PVC Board as it will burn the board.
- Avoid using the PVC Board for horizontal applications e.g. table top without the laminate, as it develops scratches over a period of time.
Reliance Industries recently forayed into the WPC domain with an exclusive license agreement with Germany’s Resysta International Gmbh giving exclusive rights of production and marketing for RelWood, a natural fibre polymer composite (NFPC) in India.
WPC can be a great addition to the list of newer materials in the market which has the potential for diverse application, is comparatively easy to use and maintain and also is more sustainable than the natural product. While the market is buzzing with numerous players entering into the segment at a rapid pace, the growth prospects are huge but at the same time, regulations and more standardized quality control checks need to be put in place. The better the material composite quality and advanced is the technology used to manufacture it; more is the durability and performance.
With leading brands like Reliance entering into the market, SURFACES REPORTER feels the material is definitely poised to get more noticed through awareness creating promotional activities by the company which will also impact the overall growth and acceptance of the product. LOOKING AHEAD