The Plastic wave has swept through several industries as experts continually find more innovative, improved, and sustainable ways to get things done. In general, the healthcare, food, textile, building & construction industries were this evolution’s leaders in using plastic materials.
The construction industry has caught the plastic bug and is not recovering anytime soon! There has been an almost complete 180-degree turn from metals, mortar, ceramics, and other alternative materials, to plastics in construction. This bug is of the excellent type, though, seeing as plastic confers quite the advantage in construction.
WHY IS PLASTIC SUITABLE FOR CONSTRUCTION?
There is an idea of frailty or fragility often associated with plastic. The image of a soft, malleable material often comes to the fore when plastics are discussed. However, this idea could not be farther from the truth, as plastic refers to a wide range of polymers with different properties.
Plastic is very versatile in its variants. It can be modified and enhanced to suit its intended purpose.
Plastics generally are lightly weighted; this is a massive plus in construction. Plastics are easy to move around compared to other materials with similar strength.
The peculiarity of the construction industry makes certain plastics a toast of the industry. The qualities that set them apart include:
- High tensile strength: Many parts of a building are weight-bearing. Strength is, therefore, a non-negotiable property of building materials. Plastics used in construction are those with remarkable strength. Examples include; Nylon, polyamide-imide- PAI, and polyetheretherketone – PEEK.
- Resistance: Elements of nature can be unkind to buildings — sunlight, rainfall, weather, and general wear and tear. Buildings are also prone to fire accidents and chemical spills. A suitable plastic for buildings must have good thermal, weather, chemical, and fire resistance.
The ability to withstand humidity is also a desirable quality. An excellent example of this is the high-density polyethylene and phenolic material. Examples of plastics with good resistance to weather are; phenolic resins and polycarbonate. Those with excellent thermal resistance include, Teflon and polybenzimidazole.
- Durability: In construction and engineering, the durability of a material is so germane that it is the most crucial consideration to be made. Some plastics are notable for durability, including Polycarbonate and Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
- Aesthetics: More often than not, the selling point of a building is the appearance and finishing. Great aesthetics sell, and plastics have remarkable aesthetics.
- Recyclability: The ability to recycle most plastics makes them an environmentally-friendly choice. Dimensional stability, flexibility, electric insulation, and easy maintenance also play a significant role in the choice of plastics.
Ultimately the decision on materials to be used in constructions is a balance between weighing the different properties of the material, and juxtaposing them against the intended use.
Commonly Used Plastics In Construction
- Acrylic: this is an umbrella term generally used to describe plastics containing acrylic acid. Acrylics can be industrially modified to improve properties in which they are naturally deficient — flexibility, combustibility, and heat resistance. However, its strength, durability, and great aesthetics, make it a foremost choice in the industry. It produces paints, Plexiglas, furniture, carpets, and light fixtures.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is another popular choice in construction, and a relatively inexpensive plastic. It is used in cabling, windows, and panels. Its flexibility, durability, strength, and transparency are added advantages. It’s great for windows, doors, wires, and cables.
- Polypropylene is also referred to as polypropene. Its durability, tensile strength, and stress resistance have been useful in construction. Polypropylene also confers the added advantage of energy efficiency and weather resistance. It is environmentally friendly, as green roofs can be made with them. The application is found in piping, carpeting, and insulating building wraps.
- Polycarbonate’s optical clarity is probably the most utilized of its properties. However, this isn’t the PC’s only valuable property in construction. Other qualities like its lightweight, durability, and resistance to flame are equally advantageous in building constructions. It is used in windows, skylights, LED lighting, stadium roofing, and others.
- Polyethylene sheets have numerous uses in construction, primarily due to their humidity resistance. The applications include using it under concrete slabs, homes, or wood as vapor retarders. Others include polystyrene, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and polyester resins.
In reality, almost all types of plastic have found use as Building Materials, some more so than others.
Uses Of Plastic as a Construction & Building Material
Just as there are varying aspects of construction, the uses of plastics vary across the board. Some aspects where plastics are useful include;
Gradually there has been a shift from lead and copper pipes to plastic. Plastic pipes are not only inexpensive but are also corrosion resistant and do not pose significant health risks. They are relatively easier to install by the plumbers. The temperature of the water passing through the plastic pipes is also conserved.
Different modifications and types of plastic are suitable for different plumbing functions. Commonly used are Polybutyrene and Polyvinyl Chloride.
Plastics are excellent insulators. They are used to coat electrical wires to keep them safe. The cables and piping used in a building are also made from plastic materials.
Windows and doors
Wood, glass, and metals used to be the ideal go-to materials for doors and windows. Recently, there has been an influx of lightweight, energy-conserving, aesthetically pleasing doors, and windows.
The plastic windows are modified to reduce the sunlight getting into a building, by tinting them. They can also be adapted to match the desired colour. Even more, plastic materials are resistant to daily wear and tear, weather, and insect infestation which are common with their wooden counterparts.
A few ways plastics have changed the roofing game, include greenhouse roofing, and roofs that allow rays of light while shielding from the weather. Let’s not forget the beautiful appearance and impressive finish.
Carpets and floor textiles are made from plastics, and floor tiles and vapor retarders are some of the uses of plastics in flooring.
The use of plastic in construction is inexhaustible, buttressing the stance of plastic as the holy grail of the industry. Interested in meeting all your plastic needs in Australia? Visit All Mould Plastics today!