Recently, I was at a flea market type place and noticed some folks that were selling outdoor furniture from composite decking material. The furniture was pretty basic built, but I have never worked with composite material before. It appeared to me that the material was cut to length, ripped to width, drilled and routed much like you would real wood. Most of the material was 3/4-in. thick but some was 1 ? inches thick. The furniture seemed pretty functional and when I thought about it, it would be very easy to clean and care for and impervious to the elements. My question then is, where do you find 1-1/2-in.-thick composite material, or do you laminate if from like you would real wood? Can you machine composite material like you would real wood with the same tools? – Louie Mattia
Tim Inman: I have no experience using this material. We did rebuild a vestibule on our house a couple of years ago, and used this composite. It is holding up beautifully outside. We just purchased some Amish-made porch furniture constructed with it, too. So, while I don’t know much about the machining characteristics, I am confident in it as a substrate. That said, it would be my preference to contact the source and inquire. Surely your local building supply store would be your best answer source for your question. If lamination were a must, then I would probably use polyurethane construction adhesive or epoxy. Ordinary wood glues just don’t bond well to plastic — which is the stuff the word “composite” is attempting to hide.
Chris Marshall: We also have some composite wood outdoor furniture that is holding up beautifully out on our deck. I didn’t build it, but the durability of this furniture has got me curious about using composite lumber for future outdoor projects! Louie, now to your question: I don’t know if composite decking is available in thicker options than 5/4 decking. As Tim suggests, check with the contractor lumber yards in your area. Those who are dealers of Trex or other brands of composite building material will know what the thickness options are. You might be able to special-order it. Speaking of Trex, here’s a link I found on West System’s® site for bonding composite lumber together, face to face, if you want to experiment with making thicker material from thinner decking (click here). Looks like one approach is to sand the surface to give it more “tooth,” then use a marine-grade epoxy to glue it together. West System also tried a flame treating process to oxidize the surface, which evidently improves adhesion. I’d probably just sand it instead. In any case, it’s interesting reading!