We have some leftover composite lumber from a deck project, and I was planning to use it for birdhouses. Do you recommend composite lumber for birds? Is it harmful to them? – Lavern Farmwald
Chris Marshall: I’m no ornithologist, but on the woodworking and DIY side of things, I’ve never heard of composite “plastic” lumber exhibiting harmful effects for humans. It’s essentially a mix of recycled plastic, wood pulp and a binder to glue it all together. It’s UV stable, rot-proof and isn’t treated with chemicals to preserve it that could leach out as toxins (like treated lumber). Effectively, I think the material is basically inert. So I don’t see why some leftover composite lumber scraps couldn’t make great birdhouses, too. They’d certainly last a long, long time! And, of course, better to use the offcuts for an environmentally friendly purpose like this than to send them to the landfill.
There are birdhouse sources on the Internet that use plastic lumber for this purpose already. Even Home Depot sells a composite lumber birdhouse (see the photo, above).
If other eZine readers are aware of reasons why composite lumber shouldn’t be used for birdhouses, by all means please share. But, this seems like a safe and longer-lasting alternative to wood for those cardinal and chickadee condos you have in mind. Have fun building them.