Faux or No: Synthetic Building Materials for Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
Over my many years in home construction, I’ve seen synthetic building materials used more and more. From vinyl fencing and siding to plastic roofing and moldings to fiberglass doors and columns, manmade products used today often hold up better and are less expensive than their natural counterparts.
Plastic Polymer Roof Shingles
Synthetic slate and wood shake roof shingles from DaVinci Roofscapes are manufactured from an engineered plastic polymer that can resist impact damage and withstand winds up to 110 mph. In addition, the roofing carries a Class A fire rating, and has a 50-year limited warranty.
To test the impact resistance of DaVinci’s plastic polymer roof shingles, we hit a frozen piece with a baseball bat. To test the fire resistance of the shingles, we applied heat from a propane torch. In both cases, the DaVinci shingles showed little or no damage.
Vinyl Siding and Fencing
Vinyl is another plastic material that has come into wide use around the exterior of the home in recent years. Vinyl siding, such as Exterior Portfolio siding by Crane, is inexpensive, easy to install, and durable. Privacy fencing, such as that made by ActiveYards, is another great outdoor use for vinyl that requires much less maintenance than similar wood fencing.
Fiberglass Entry Doors
Natural wood entry doors are beautiful and can add curb appeal of your home, but exposure to sun and rain can quickly cause the finish on the door to deteriorate.
While fiberglass doors, like those from JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, are made to resemble real wood, they hold up much better to the elements.
Clear Acrylic Window Blocks
Glass window blocks have been used for years to bring sunlight light into a room without compromising privacy. Acrylic blocks, such as those from US Block Windows, perform the same function but are lighter, insulate better, and are more impact resistant than glass.
Urethane and PVC Moldings
Another area where synthetic materials can perform better than wood are urethane moldings, such as turned balusters on porch railings made by Fypon. While they can be cut, sanded, and finished like solid wood, urethane moldings won’t rot and are immune to damage from termites.
Interior moldings, such as crown molding and ceiling medallions, are other good uses for faux products.
Plastic Laminate Countertops
Plastic laminates are both durable and inexpensive, making them a popular choice for kitchen countertops and cabinets. The look and feel of plastic laminate has really improved in recent years, and it’s hard to tell products like Formica 180fx from real stone.
Faux finishes can be applied to a wide range of materials to mimic the look of natural wood or stone.
- Marbleizing is a sponging technique that’s used to apply layers of paint and glaze to surfaces to produce the appearance of real marble or other types of stone.
- Graining is a finishing technique that uses special tools and finishes to transform inexpensive wood and painted surfaces into the look of everything from mahogany to rosewood.
Watch Videos from This Episode
- Advantages of Synthetic Slate or Shake Roofing for Your Home
- Advantages of Fiberglass over Wood Doors
- Advantages of Urethane Moldings over Solid Wood
- Advantages of Acrylic over Glass Window Blocks
- Realistic Granite Plastic Laminate
- Faux Graining Finishing Techniques for a Painted Mantle
- Faux Marbleizing Finishing Technique for Columns
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Easy Way to Clean a Paint Roller
To quickly remove latex paint from a paint roller, position the paint roller frame over the rim of a garbage can, then use a garden hose equipped with a sprayer nozzle to spin the roller at a high speed, removing the paint. Once clean, remove the roller from the frame and stand it on end to dry.
(Watch This Video)
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Ridgid Fuego Reciprocating Saw
The Ridgid Fuego Reciprocating Saw makes cutting in tight spots a whole lot easier. The rail surrounding the blade, coupled with a short cutting stroke and light weight, allow for easy, one-handed operation. Replacing blades is a cinch, too, thanks to the tool-free blade changer. The Ridgid Fuego Reciprocating Saw is available at The Home Depot.
(Watch This Video)
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Using Trees Efficiently
Trees are a valuable natural resource, so it’s important to use them as efficiently as possible. While only 63% of a tree is used in making solid lumber, the manufacture of composite materials—such as MDF and hardboard—utilizes 95% of the tree. This results in almost a third less trees needed to produce the same quantity of wood products. (Watch This Video)