Ann Arbor, Mich. — The 1920s bungalow renovated by cable television's HGTV for its 2016 Urban Oasis Giveaway greets visitors with all the charm of the Craftsman era: a big porch with four rocking chairs under two ceiling fans flanking an inviting door.
However, there's a modern materials twist that helped take this house from a one-story, 840-square-foot knock down to a two-story, 1,500-square-foot contest prize valued at $700,000 (when you add in furnishings and $50,000 of spending money). Plastics play a big role in the curb appeal, low maintenance and energy efficiency of the dwelling that sits on a quiet street by a vibrant downtown near the University of Michigan.
For starters, the porch spanning the front façade is made of composite wood — sawdust and polyethylene from recycled shopping bags — by Trex while the mahogany looking front door is made of insulated fiberglass by Clopay Building Products.
“I wanted something I don't have to paint for the front porch,” said Scott Branscom, project manager for HGTV and a certified green builder. “I get consistent color and a long lifetime out of this decking. I really like the composites because of that. Today they all really hold their color. Ten years ago they all went gray. Remember that?”
Branscom said he makes a point to keep up on plastic building materials as new polymer formulations, additives and capstocks continue to improve the appearance and performance of products.
“The whole house has elements of plastic,” he said.