Wood–plastic lumber is promoted as a low-maintenance high-durability product. When exposed to accelerated weathering, however, wood–plastic composites may experience a color change and loss in mechanical properties. Differences in weathering cycle and composite surface characteristics can affect the rate and amount of change caused by weathering. In this study, 50% wood flour filled high-density polyethylene composite samples were injection molded, extruded, or extruded and then planed to remove the manufacturing surface characteristics. Composites were exposed to two accelerated weathering cycles in a xenon arc weathering apparatus. This apparatus exposed the samples to xenon arc radiation, which is a combination of UV, visible, and IR radiation that is similar to solar radiation. Composites were exposed to radiation with or without water spray. After exposure to radiation and water spray, composites with more wood component at the surface (i.e., planed samples) experienced a larger percentage of total loss in flexural modulus of elasticity and strength after weathering compared with the other composites. Composites exposed to radiation only did not experience as much change in properties as those exposed to radiation with water spray. The results of this study demonstrate that exposing wood– plastic composites to water spray in combination with radiation is more severe than exposing wood–plastic composites to radiation only.
Stark, Nicole M. 2006. Effect of weathering cycle and manufacturing method on performance of wood flour and high-density polyethylene composites. Journal of applied polymer science. Vol. 100 (2006): Pages 3131-3140