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Recycled plastic makes sturdy decks

The Earnhardts live along Skyline Boulevard where the wind blows and the fog settles in most of the morning. Their first redwood deck lasted about six years in that weather, and when they went shopping for a new deck they went to Bruce Bauer Lumber & Supply in Mountain View.

David Thom, buyer for Bruce Bauer, spoke with the Earnhardts and explained the features of a new type of material called Trex Lumber. They were selling a lot of it because of its flexibility.

"There comes a time when red cedar and redwood becomes too expensive to use for decks and this material is a great substitute," Thom said. "This material won't splinter, crack, can be sawed, sanded, nailed and drilled. It is resistant to termites, ants, rot and decay."

According to Thom, Trex is made by the Mobil Chemical Company and has been around several years. The product is made from recycled plastic grocery bags, industrial stretch film, sawdust from furniture factories and used wooden pallets. The materials are broken down and then extruded into standard lumber dimensions.

The material has been used in municipal projects like playgrounds and beach front boardwalks. City building inspectors have found it used in playground equipment, fencing, noise barriers, landscaping and industrial flooring.

"The reason some people like Trex," Thom said, "is they can sand and plane Trex just like wood. When you paint it, no special preparation is required other than working with a clean surface."

Trex weighs more than wood and is more flexible. An 8-foot 2x6 weighs about 30 pounds. Because of the plastic in Trex, it shields the wood fiber, and moisture absorption is extremely low.

When it comes to pricing, Trex costs only slightly more than treated lumber. Current prices at distributors is under $2 per square foot.

Bruce Bauer Lumber is located at 134 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View. For more information call 948-1089

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