Construction & Plastic Usage

The Ever Growing Use Of Plastic In Building Construction

Building materials change over time, with fashion, innovation, availability, raw cost, processing costs, and a host of other factors.

Buildings predominantly constructed with wood, wattle and daub, stone and even aluminium can be seen as testament to builders using the materials of the day.

The contrasts in materials over time are most obvious when building extensions to existing construction. Even relatively young buildings, say houses built 50 years ago, will upon trench and foundation digging, show sewer and drainage pipe work in clay or even cast iron.

The plastics industry as a whole took off in the fifties and sixties with the development of extrusion technology and processing machinery engineered specifically for polyvinyl chloride, or as it more commonly became known, PVC.

PVC became a real alternative to traditional materials in many areas, including gas and water distribution, sewage and drainage, soil and waste, even cable conduits.

PVC is now ubiquitous in the ground works of all but the most complex new builds, buried using construction equipment such as backhoe loaders. It is lightweight, strong and durable, with a moderate flexibility which clay piping does not have.

The flexibility is made by the addition of plasticizers, when these are not added the material remains unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, or uPVC.

This material is rigid, durable, and as piping, safe to carry drinking water. It is most commonly recognised as the leading choice of material for window and door frames.

In the UK, some 85% of new build and replacement door and window projects use uPVC. The plastic based material is coated around a steel frame. This makes a very strong and secure unit.

This will not decay or rot as wood can do, and at the perceived end of its life can be recycled. It can actually be recycled up to ten times, giving it a potential life span of hundreds of years.

The roofline of new build housing today, will almost invariably be in uPVC. Modern extrusion methods produce fascia and soffit with properties far more desirable than traditional wood.

It is now widely recognised that the technical performance and maintenance commitments of timber roofline when compared with uPVC are no longer acceptable. Unlike timber, the uPVC roofline will not rot or discolour, nor will it bend or warp.

The rain water guttering is extruded PVC, which is recognised as a carrier for potable water, allowing the potential for water recycling.