- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 13 Mar 2020
Plastic in construction
'Plastic' is a general name given to a wide range of synthetic materials that are based on polymers. The construction industry uses plastic for a wide range of applications because of its versatility, strength-to-weight ratio, durability, corrosion resistance, and so on.
Plastic can be manufactured into forms such as; pipes, cables, coverings, panels, films, sheets and so on; and can be formed or expanded to create low-density materials; and be dissolved in solvents or dispersed as emulsions.
- Expanded polystyrene.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
- Cladding panels.
- Pipes and gutters.
- Windows and doors.
- Wall linings
- Floor covering
- Ceiling panels.
- Roof coverings.
- Sinks, basins, baths, and showers.
- Insulation materials.
The advantages of using plastic in construction are that it is lightweight yet strong which makes it easier to transport and shift around sites. It is also resistant to rot and corrosion and has strong weather ability due to it being capable of achieving tight seals. Plastic can also be flexible, and is easily extruded, bent, molded, 3D printed, and so on. Plastic can also be easily removed and some plastics can be recycled.
The disadvantages of plastic are that it has a high embodied energy content and a low modulus of elasticity, meaning that it is generally unsuitable for load-bearing applications. Unless treated, most plastics are also ignitable and have a high thermal expansion rate which requires detailing to allow for adequate thermal movement.
There are environmental concerns about some plastics because of difficulties recycling them, there persistence in the environment after disposal, and concerns regarding chemical additives used to make plastics flexible, resistant to fire, and adhesive.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Construction materials.
- Construction plastics market.
- Fabric structures.
- Glass-reinforced plastic GRP.
- India looks at using plastic instead of sand.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Sandwich panel.
- Thermoplastic materials in buildings.
- Transparent insulation materials.
Featured articles and news
Full of passion and acerbic wit. 1 min book review.
Reminding us what is possible.
Five signs you are at risk.
Biotechnology as it applies to the built environment.
Stopping sound coming through windows.
Government response to the Building a Safer Future consultation.
Energy savings quickly payback any small additional capital investment.
Overbuild and air-space developments.
Airports National Policy Statement and its impact on infrastructure.
Organisations will collaborate on infrastructure initiatives.
Technology informs procurement and planning practices.