Wood plastic composite decking in China market
While a small range of new products have been introduced to the China decking market, timber currently retains the pre-eminent position in this market amongst those surveyed. Virtually all users demonstrated a clear preference for timber decking on the basis of its natural appearance, overall reliability and ease of use. However, complacency from the local timber decking industry can only lead to increasing attack and market share losses to emerging alternative products. It is also important to note that all user segments report a high product failure/dissatisfaction rate associated with treated pine decking, resulting in its choice as the ‘low end product solution’.
The timber deck market size was estimated to be around 145,000 m³ , with hardwood, particularly imported hardwood, dominating the market .
The overall growth of the sector has been targeted as a lucrative opportunity by competing industries, and is evidenced by the introduction and marketing of a number of alternative products. These products include:
1. Wood-plastic composite
2. Timber deck tiles
3. Bamboo products
These currently supplement the traditional materials of hardwood and treated pine . However distributor promotion of these new products also indicates a progressive move away from ‘just decking’ to a targeting of a wider range of applications in the outdoor room market . This further endangers the traditional timber market.
Wood-plastic composites are marketed internationally on the basis of its:
1. Low maintenance requirements
2. Wide range of colours
3. Good environmental credentials (recycled materials) .
Wood-plastic composites have been anecdotally reported as making significant inroads into the Australian decking market . It was therefore surprising that consumers had no general awareness of wood-plastic composites prior to the study . Additionally only 15% of specifiers and 10% of builders had specified or used wood-plastic composites for decking . In Perth the product had little to no recognition among business or consumer users.
However, after seeing product samples there was significantly less resistance among consumers with interest expressed in the cost, maintenance and longevity aspects of the product .
Of the business users, those that had specified and used the product expressed a reasonable level of satisfaction with the finished product . The majority of specifiers and builders however, expressed a number of concerns that prevented them from specifying or utilising the product.
Builders who have had experience with wood-plastic composites were quite vocal about the difficulties of installation and the fact that it takes additional time to install . Whilst builders generally felt that wood-plastic composites had advantages of straightness, colour choice and less ongoing maintenance, this was offset by the difficulties associated with installation . Given that builders are time poor and are seeking to accelerate installations, these characteristics run against the grain of their needs.