Historically, materials such as wood and metal have dominated the construction of outdoor structures like playgrounds, greenhouses, and outdoor furniture. However, these materials have numerous weaknesses making them unideal for outdoor use. Wood, for example, is susceptible to rotting, warping, and splintering. Glass, on the other hand, even though great for light transmission, is extremely fragile.
Plastic is increasingly becoming an exemplary candidate when designing products for outdoor use. Among the reasons that make plastic excellent for outdoor structures include its durability, functionality, lightweight, and versatility. Plus, some kinds of plastic can withstand severe weather conditions and resist UV light.
Although plastic surpasses other materials in quality and versatility, all plastics aren’t created equal. While some plastics are ideal for indoor use, others are great for outdoor applications. The perfect plastic for outdoor use is resistance to UV radiation damage and corrosion and durable in the face of harsh elements.
Importantly, the plastic used outdoors should be weatherproof due to the severe environmental factors it is exposed to. This article presents three weatherproof plastics for outdoor use that you may want to consider when designing an outdoor application.
1. Acrylic Plastic
Acrylic plastic is fitting for outdoor use, especially in the form of a clear acrylic sheet. Here are the main features that make it the right candidate for outdoor use.
- Excellent weather resistance: acrylic plastic can be used outdoors without degrading. It can endure extreme cold, salt water, and high levels of UV light. Acrylic plastic can also sustain high temperatures of 180F without melting
- Durability: unlike many plastics, acrylic plastic can resist scratches and dents to keep your outdoor structure strong for longer. Clear acrylic sheets can be a perfect replacement for glass since it resists chipping, and it is sturdy
- Ideal for heavy-duty use because of its impact resistance
- Superior light transmission making it ideal for outdoor glazing
2. Polycarbonate Plastic
This type of plastic was once a niche plastic because of its cost. Mainly used for commercial purposes. However, as polycarbonate plastic becomes prominent, its price has become more accessible for both commercial and residential use. Below are the features that make polycarbonate plastic great for outdoor use.
- Very sturdy: has high impact resistant, and hence commonly used for hurricane panels
- Available in varying thicknesses, strengths, and colors, making it ideal for numerous outdoor uses ranging from patios to terraces, and playground equipment
- Polycarbonate plastic can be produced with different degrees of transparency, depending on your needs
- It has highly transparent properties making it great for greenhouses, nurseries, and skylights
- Superior toughness compared to acrylic
- UV resistant
- Heat resistant: it can withstand up to 248F of heat
3. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This type of plastic is ideal for outdoor use because of the following features;
- Incredibly enduring: can sustain a substantial amount of weight
- Softer than acrylic and polycarbonate. This feature makes it a safe material for outdoor applications. When the board chips or cracks, it does not have sharp and dangerous edges that can cause injury
- Durable: it outlasts many kinds of plastics
- Easy to use: since HDPE can be shaped into boards and sheets, you can build outdoor structures like furniture and playground material easily
- Resistant to acids, alcohols, and bases. HDPE is ideal for use in public places because it can repel any graffiti
Are you still using traditional wood and glass for building outdoor structures? Over time, plastic has become an excellent candidate for outdoor use. Whether you choose acrylic, polycarbonate, or HDPE, you will have the best building material to give you a strong and durable outdoor structure. These plastics have superior weatherability, UV resistance, and durability. Contact Proto Plastics to learn more about the available plastics for your next outdoor project.