View Full Version : Plastic Lumber

Jim Chilenski
06-01-2009, 5:06 PM

I was wondering if anyone on the forum has done any work with PVC dimensional lumber or fiber glass reinforced plastic lumber? If so how hard is it to work with?

I am fooling around with the idea of purchasing an older home that has box gutters on it that haven't been maintained and have rotted out in several locations. Box gutters are normally made of wood that is lined with either copper or tin sheeting that is then soldered together. They can be quite elaborate in design and the home that I'm looking at has corbels added to them as well.

Since these gutters are almost three stories above the ground, and I hate to have to hang off of a ladder to paint; I was wondering if it might be possible to rebuild these gutters using plastic lumber? I know that it has been used for exterior trim, and that it really can't be used in a structural situation, but for a box gutter that is supported ever sixteen inches I was thinking it might work.

The biggest concerns would be creating water tight joints between the pieces, and the amount of expansion and contraction that the material supposedly goes through. I could see that being a problem since it moves in all directions. The gutters across the front and back of the house are forty feet in length and the sides are thirty-six feet so expansion along the length could quickly kill this idea.

I know that we are suppose to be 'wood'workers here, so I maybe asking the wrong group. But if anyone has worked with this material I would like your insight.


David G Baker
06-01-2009, 5:59 PM
I have used a product called Trimax and love it. It is the plastic reinforced with fiberglass. I built a deck with it in California. It is as strong as wood so you can use it with spacing the same a wood. It has a 50 year minimum life expectancy. It is more expensive than wood and some of the hollow plastic lumber. It works well with most wood working tools but you will get more life out of your cutters if you use carbide cutters. I have cut it with my table saw, routed it with my router and it drills well and holds a screw as good as wood. I have a metal milling machine and have made a few interesting things with the material. The only draw back I found is it gets hot if you try to walk on it with bare feet but so does most other material and if you sit on it the fiberglass may irritate bare skin. It may not be available in all areas but if you need it, you can order it from the manufacturer and they will ship it to you. The above information is from several years ago and the economy may have changed the availability of Trimax
Do a Google on Trimax, there is a lot of information about it on the net. I was amazed at what all it can be used for.

Cliff Rohrabacher
06-01-2009, 7:42 PM
They cut well. The wood fiber impregnated lumber swells in exposure to water and dues not shrink back all the way then swells again etc.
It takes screws but counter sink and don't drive past the C sink cause the material will fracture around the hole.

Jim Chilenski
06-01-2009, 8:41 PM

I wasn't thinking of using the wood impregnated plastic material because of the water absorbing properties. Gutters need to be water proof. :)


How does Trimax compare to "PlasticLumber"? PlasticLumber appears to have a lot more standard sizes all the way up to 2" x 10". Also have you noticed any out gasing from Trimax? Does it give off a smell when in the sun?


David G Baker
06-02-2009, 1:18 AM
I have never used anything but Trimax. There was no out gassing, or smell and there is probably more standard sizes with Trimax because it is used to build wharfs and many other things that require varity, stability and longevity. I only used 2"x6"x16's and cut to size any other size I needed. I used it for a deck and floating sidewalks. It was great, no shrinkage, no staining, no swelling, no cracking and no complaints. When I bought for my deck there was only two colors, grey and a reddish tint, there may be more options now.
It sounds like I am a company rep but I have no affiliation with Trimax just a very happy user that wished it was available locally so I could get it when I want it.
I now am using a plastic/fiberglass mix that is used for decking in cooling towers. It was left over from a job that a friend of mine completed. It is a commercial product that is not available to the public and it is nothing like Trimax. The commercial product comes in all kinds of shapes. I have some 3x3 box tubing, 3x3 angle, 12+" decking that I plan on using when I get around to building a new deck. I researched it on the Internet and found that it is extremely expensive but it is one of the only products that will stand up to the extreme environment in power plant cooling towers.

Tom Godley
06-02-2009, 9:32 AM
I had Azek installed on my addition last year - I covered the whole thing with it to simulate raised panels and some board and batten siding. We glued the corner posts with PVC glue to make them look like a larger trim board and it worked out well - its a nice product.

From what I understand the PVC "wood" products expand more than any wood product. I think this could be a problem with a long gutter that must be watertight.