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Why Polyurethane Panels Beat Natural Stone and Wood in Sustainability

Why Polyurethane Panels Beat Natural Stone and Wood in Sustainability

For many homeowners, making the right environmental choice is as important as choosing the right colors and designs for their homes. Because it seems like natural products would be the more sustainable, eco-friendly option, products like polyurethane sometimes get overlooked in the selection process.

Polyurethane: A Safe, Non-Toxic Option

You might be surprised to learn that polyurethane is one of the most environmentally friendly products available. It has been used in home design and other manufacturing processes for over 30 years, and has taken the place of fiberglass, rubber and silicon products in many industries. From cars to furniture to even sneakers, many of the products you already own are made from polyurethane.

Part of the material’s popularity is due to the many ways it can be used, but it has also become a popular choice in manufacturing because it doesn’t present the problem of off-gassing. Off-gassing — the release of airborne particulates or chemicals into your home — is common among building products but does not occur with polyurethane. 

In recent years, the dangers of off-gassing have gained more attention, and many consumers are concerned about using products in their home that can potentially cause health problems. Since polyurethane is made in the most environmentally friendly way and does not contain atmosphere-damaging chlorofluorocarbons, it is a safe and non-toxic way to make home improvements without risking your family’s health.

What Polyurethane Is — and What It Does

Polyurethane is made from a polymer that is combined with chemical compounds to create the new substance. When it’s still in liquid form, it can be poured into a mold to take on the desired shape, whether that means it becomes insulation, upholstery or faux panels for your home.

Polyurethane is made with what is called a closed cell structure, which makes it more stable and prevents it from degrading over time. This means polyurethane panels are durable enough to withstand tough weather conditions for many years without showing wear and tear. These weather-resistant faux panels won’t split, warp or crack, so they keep looking new for longer. This also means less waste in the landfill.

Unlike a natural wood product, which is susceptible to wood rot, or a natural brick or stone product that develops mold because of moisture, faux polyurethane panels keep moisture out. Even when subjected to extreme temperatures and conditions like ice, snow, saltwater exposure and heavy rain, polyurethane panels will continue looking beautiful. This kind of durability gives polyurethane panels the versatility to work as well around an outdoor fireplace and kitchen as they do inside the home.

The water-based stains and finishes that Barron Designs uses in its manufacturing process also help make these panels a healthier choice than other faux and natural options.

The Downsides of Natural Products

Nature has provided a beautiful selection of products to use inside our homes — from rough-hewn wooden ceiling beams and wood paneled walls to stone walls and fireplaces. While there’s no doubt these materials make a stunning impression, they often come with a hefty price that goes beyond the financial impact.

Natural stone must be excavated from the ground, transported to a manufacturer and then transformed into a product you can use in your home. Timber logging requires a similar process. Not only does every step of these processes add to natural stone and wood costs, they also do untold harm to the landscape, natural vegetation and habitats around the mining and logging sites. Once natural products have been made ready for consumer use, they must be transported again — which creates additional expense and environmental impact. 

Another concern with natural wood products is that they can attract pests such as termites and other wood-boring insects that can quickly wreak havoc on your home. Wood that becomes wet, either through an undetected leak or from ongoing exposure to the elements, is susceptible to rot and mold. If your real wood begins molding, decaying or is invaded by wood-eating pests, the replacement process will lead to more waste and negative environmental impact.

Faux Panels for a Natural Look

Using faux panels allows you to get the same natural look in your home for a fraction of the cost of stone or wood and with a lower environmental impact, giving your projects long-term beauty and sustainability. Because Barron Designs creates molds from actual wood and stone products, its polyurethane panels look and feel like the real thing — including the appearance of an occasional chip, nick or imperfection for complete realism. In fact, our polyurethane panels for both stone and wood products are so realistic that, once installed, it’s virtually impossible to tell them from the real thing.

Because our products are offered in so many color options, you can choose the shade and style that best suits your taste and design scheme. For example, our polyurethane rock panels include realistic river rock and random rock options that allow you to bring your vision to life on a budget. With our many different polyurethane stone panels, you have even more choices — including stacked stone, fieldstone and coral stone — to create the look you want.

And our polyurethane wood panels give you versatile choices such as bamboo, reclaimed barnwood and wood plank panel. It’s the same natural look without the toxicity, waste production, and environmental impact of many alternative products.

When you want to get the natural look of stone or wood, sometimes going natural isn’t your best bet. Take a look at what Barron Designs can do to help make your home improvement project more affordable, eco-friendly and easier than you imagined.