You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Wood-Plastic Composites Are More Desirable With Fire Retardant Treatments

Photo of Fire retardant treatments can reduce the contribution of wood-plastic composites to a fire. Craig Clemons, Forest ServiceFire retardant treatments can reduce the contribution of wood-plastic composites to a fire. Craig Clemons, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Wood-plastic composites treated with fire retardants addresses fire concerns in the wildland-urban interface

Principal Investigators(s) :
White, Robert H. 
Research Location : FPL
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 6


Wood composites made with highly flammable plastics are increasingly being used in a wide range of applications. Such applications include decking boards and other exterior products around homes in the wildland-urban interface. Tests have shown that fire retardant treatments can reduce the potential contribution of the wood-plastic composites to a fire.

Wood-plastic composites are widely available for some building applications. In applications such as outdoor decking, these composites have gained a significant share of the market. As part of efforts to address fire concerns in wildland-urban interface, the Forest Products Laboratory has been examining the fire performance of wood-plastic composites.

As a follow up to initial studies on commercial decking products and untreated wood-plastic composities, Forest Service scientists and international visiting scientists from Turkey evaluated fire retardant treatments for these composites. Scientists conducted heat release rate tests at the Forest Products Laboratory on untreated and fire-retardant-treated wood-plastic composites to determine the effectiveness of the fire-retardant treatments.

The rate of heat release due to combustion is an important parameter in the ability of a burning material to spread rapidly and contribute to the intensity of a fire. Studies showed that increasing the wood fiber content in wood-plastic composites significantly improved the fire performance to that of the plastic alone. Adding fire retardant chemicals, particularly ammonium polyphosphate, was also shown to be effective in improving the fire performance.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • 3M, St. Paul, MN
  • Istanbul University

Program Areas