This Is Plastics: Plastics in Home III: Efficient Home Improvement Relies on Plastics

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Plastics in Home III: Efficient Home Improvement Relies on Plastics

Plastics deliver functionality, durability, and energy efficiency to homes and homeowners.

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As consumers increasingly stayed home  over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families across the United States refocused their attention on home improvement projects, increasing demand for tools and other DIY-related products. The use of plastics in home improvement has not only made projects more affordable at a time when consumers are already facing high inflation, but has additional benefits including increased energy efficiency and savings, making DIY projects a trend that’s here to stay.

Plastics in flooring and paints provide endless benefits to families

From synthetic rugs to luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), flooring alternatives made with plastics are the future of home improvement. These products are functional and easy to install and, better yet, look like the real thing—but without the price tag. LVTs, for example, mimic the modern and durable look found in wood, slate or even marble flooring, but at a fraction of the cost, meaning that everyone can access these designs without breaking the bank. Furthermore, installation of these designs is made easy with simple adhesive or nails, increasing accessibility and reducing the need to hire and pay external contractors or workers. These products are also more environmentally beneficial compared to traditional products like wood.

Plastic polymers like nylon, polypropylene and polyester are also delivering affordable carpeting and rug options to home improvement enthusiasts. Synthetic carpets, which altogether amount to about 97 percent of the total carpet market, are moisture- and stain-resistant making them easy to clean. They are also more durable, reducing the need for replacement carpeting even in high-traffic areas that might wear down more easily. Synthetic carpeting has gained popularity in recent years due to its affordability, and is now carried widely in home improvement stores making it accessible to all consumers.

While synthetic flooring alternatives help keep home improvement costs down, latex paint made with polyvinyl, polyurethane, polyester and acrylic is keeping walls clean and bright. This newly popular paint is quick-dry providing DIYers with easy installation and long-term durability. Furthermore, this type of paint also requires fewer coats, which reduces overall product need and reduces time spent on projects.

Plastic piping saves lives

Over the last few decades, aging lead pipe infrastructure across the United States has contaminated drinking water leading to lawsuits that have cost regional and local governments millions of dollars. However, the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill allocated $3 billion in funding to replace lead pipes. The best replacement? Plastics. Experts recommend durable PVC pipes, which are more affordable and energy efficient than alternatives, particularly copper piping. Affordability means that more pipes can be replaced faster with PVC. This same type of piping that can eliminate contaminated water on an industrial scale can also be used in DIY home improvement projects.

PVC pipes help homeowners modernize in-home water distribution systems by improving energy efficiency and reducing waste water. Innovations like PEX piping water systems (cross-linked polyethylene) utilize separate hoses for hot and cold water, reducing warm up wait times. These systems can also be used for home heating and cooling systems, increasing energy efficiency and keeping homes at a more stable temperature. PVC is modernizing at home water systems, while also preventing drinking water contamination.

Foam installation saves time and money by increasing efficiency

Even with floors, walls and water systems outfitted with better, more durable plastic products, plastics go further to also fortify the insulation in our homes. Foam insulation made from plastic polymers is more effective at regulating temperatures inside structures, increasing energy efficiency. With foam, homes can rely less on constant heat or air conditioning, leading to energy and cost savings. In fact, according to a study by the Society of Plastics Engineers, if foam insulation were used in all homes nationwide, energy savings would equate to $2.58 billion. By 2050 that number would grow to $128.6 billion in savings.

The same study also found that for every 40 BTUs of energy saved by using plastic insulation, only one BTU of energy is consumed to produce the material, making it a highly efficient product. In addition to insulation, plastics are vital to house wraps, foam sealants, caulks and coatings, which deliver additional efficiencies for temperature regulation and translate to energy savings for consumers. Even better, these are all available at affordable prices for DIY home improvement enthusiasts.

Plastics are vital to homes and home improvement projects. From flooring and paint to new water systems and insulation, plastic polymers are the future of homes due to their affordability and durability.

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