What Is The Difference Between POLYWOOD And Polyethylene?

Polywood is a distinct type of furniture that has made its way onto the market in recent years.

Which has changed outdoor furniture forever. Because of its durability and performance outdoors.

But is Polywood the same as polyethylene?

Technically Polywood is made from polyethylene, making it the same material. But for patio furniture PolywoodOpens in a new tab. has become the gold standard of HDPE furniture. Setting it apart from other furniture made from polyethylene.

Similar to Kleenex and Trex. Both names have come to represent the entire category. regardless of brands, we ask for a kleenex to wipe our nose.

When thinking about building a low-maintenance composite deck. We ask for Trex.

But not all composite decking is the same as Trex. Not all plastic furniture is the same as Polywood.

Polywood as outdoor furnitureOpens in a new tab., and has made people rethink buying plastic furniture as a replacement for the humble, but sturdy deck chair.

What Is The Difference Between POLYWOOD And Polyethylene?

On the other hand, when we think of plastic we think of polyethylene.

Polyethylene is a distinct type of plastic Opens in a new tab.that is used to make durable plastic containers. The amount of products it is in ranges from consumables containers like milk jugs to cleaning products like laundry and bleach detergent.

It is perfect for these jobs, as these products need to be contained in a sealed environment that also needs to sometimes protect others from their contents.

So, what’s the difference between the two? Are they made from the same material? In this article, we seek to explore this issue and give you a rundown on each one.

Are They The Same Product?

Technically, Polywood is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), so Polywood is made from polyethylene and thus makes it a product of polyethylene.

However, the purpose and the way it is made are different from normal products made with this substance.

Normal HDPE is a robust, moderately stiff plastic with a highly crystalline structure.

This is because most of the time it is used in containers which have to hold a variety of substances that can be corrosive, but it must also be stable enough as a substance to not react with any of those chemicals.

However, Polywood lumber has the same durability repurposed to make uncompromising water-resistant and easy-to-clean outdoor furniture.

This is not made to keep some inside of it safe and untampered with, but to resist anything that is thrown at it.

Rain, wind, hail, even extended use, it is supposed to be able to weather any storm without breaking or coming apart.

So, while Polywood is a type of HDPE, it by no means defines it. There are in fact a few different kinds of HDPE, each has their own distinct purpose which they are made for, and they perform this purpose very well.

What Are The Advantages Of Buying HDPE Based Furniture?

Furniture made using the product HDPE has many advantages to it.

Environmentally friendly in that it can be endlessly recycled for further cost-saving measures, and it just gets cheaper.

The plastic is also incredibly resilient. It is resistant to so many natural corrosive substances, including water and chemicals – especially types of solvent.

This makes it a perfect vessel for a variety of different substances that you otherwise not be able to transport.

Even if the liquid or substance you were transporting was not corrosive, but could become bad from exposure to bacteria and fungi, this wouldn’t affect it if it was sealed in an HDPE bottle.

The plastic is also fungi and rot resistant, which makes it even good for products with a shelf life.

Another thing about HDPE is its tensile strength. It would take a lot of stress to even begin to crack an HDPE bottle, let alone a Polywood piece of lumber.

In fact, people often drop bottles made of HDPE without worrying about them breaking.

What Are The Advantages Of Buying HDPE Based Furniture?

Instead, their worry is more focused on the fact that the lid will be knocked off in the impact and spill the product, rather than it breaking.

HDPE is also very lightweight. Even though the Polywood deck chairs that you can get are quite heavy, they are nowhere near as heavy as they could be.

The reason for the weight is that the molecules of the HDPE have been densely packed together to make sure it doesn’t fly away at the first opportunity.

Since you can have a flexible, lightweight HDPE and a heavy, static HDPE, this makes them very versatile in what they can and can’t be used for.

With so many uses, it’s no wonder that people love using HDPE for various products and especially for Polywood.

Negatives Of HDPE

Unfortunately, there are always going to be drawbacks to any product, even one as useful as HDPE.

One of the most annoying things is that it is not resistant to oxidizing agents or chlorinated hydrocarbons.

As such, if you use insecticides or a neighbour does, it might be best not to use this product.

Another problem for the avid fan of this product is that it is non-compostable.

It can be recycled, but whereas you can recycle wood and other materials in your compost heap for it to break down later on, this doesn’t as well with HDPE.

It will continue to be there for the next 100 or so years, before anything happens to it.

HDPE is also a low stiffness plastic. What this means is that even though it will not change very much over time or remain rigid under most pressure, it is not stiff enough for high-pressure settings.

Earlier we mentioned that it would be able to take a lot of stress, which it can, but once it goes beyond that line it cannot adapt or move, and it will break apart.

You probably won’t be able to do anything to break a Polywood chair from just sitting in it, but should you drop a very heavy object on it, or it is blown into a tree by a hurricane, it probably wouldn’t survive the impact.

While these are drawbacks, the fact is that these drawbacks to HDPE are extremely rare and probably won’t affect your Polywood product at all.

However, if you do live in a disaster area, it may be worth checking to see what you can do to protect your furniture.


Polywood is a product that is made of a kind of polyethylene called HDPE or high-density polyethylene.

This means that they are the same chemical compound, but not exactly the same in the sense that one is made from the other.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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