From time to time, Re-nest will be looking at green deck materials. This post is the first in the series.
Bear Board is decking made from recycled HDPE plastic. That's high-density polyethelene—the stuff of milk jugs. It's relatively affordable and practical for decking, although it is not a direct replacement for wood.
The main difference is that HDPE lumber isn't as stiff as wood lumber. This opens up some possibilities for design, such as the curved bench shown above. It also means that decking either needs to be supported more frequently, or you need to use a larger size of board: for example, on a wood deck where you have a 2 x 4, you'll probably need a 2 x 6 piece of Bear Board.
Cost is similar to cedar or tropical wood, at around $3 to $4 a linear foot for a 2 x 6.
Plastic also expands and contracts due to temperature more than wood, so boards over 12' should be installed with a biscuit system rather than screws. This is similar to some tropical woods commonly used for decking.
Aside from being made from recycled plastic, the manufacturer of Bear Board will cut orders of over 50 boards to size so that you do not end up with waste on the job.
You can order Bear Board through Lowe's or direct through the company at their website.