A World Beyond Wood: Building With ACRE™
Top Customer Questions About ACRE
At Koopman Lumber, we’re always on top of the latest Lumber and Building Material trends. Something we’re very excited about right now is ACRE, the new sustainable, tree-free wood alternative from Modern Mill. It’s not that often that a new material hits the market and really changes the game, and ACRE does just that. Modern Mill shipped its very first truckload of ACRE in 2020, so it’s a very new idea to most, and our customers have had a lot of questions. In this blog, we’ll review ACRE’s many applications and benefits and answer some of the most common questions we’ve been fielding.
What Is ACRE?
ACRE is a revolutionary, sustainable tree-free alternative that is virtually indistinguishable from real wood. It offers all the water resistance, strength and durability of PVC and traditional composites with the warmth and workability of real wood. It opens the possibility of a world beyond wood and is changing the game in home construction and renovation. ACRE is taking the place of wood in just about every kind of project, from home and commercial construction and renovation to outdoor recreational applications.
What Do We Mean by “Sustainable?”
ACRE is made in the USA from up-cycled rice hulls, a common byproduct of food production. Rice hulls are traditionally shipped off to the landfill, but Modern Mill has them trucked from rice suppliers to be ground up for use in their proprietary ACRE formula.
This small step forward in sustainability speaks volumes about the good we can do for the planet while not compromising the structures we build. The demand for cheap wood has been linked to deforestation, and even most composites are still dependent on trees for the sawdust used in their formulas.
ACRE’s tree-free, rice hull composition offers eco-friendly strength, durability and water resistance without adding to the depletion of our planet’s forests. Every pallet of ACRE saves a whole managed-forest tree. In its first year of business alone, Modern Mill saved the equivalent of approximately 4,000 acres of tropical rain forest (or 4,000 softwood trees) and diverted more than 3,000 tons of rice hulls from going to the landfill. And their business has grown exponentially since then!
ACRE is also a 100% recyclable material, and it’s free of harmful compounds like phenol, formaldehyde and adhesives that are common to other wood alternatives. That’s a comfort to folks concerned about long-term health impacts on their families and communities.
Why Choose ACRE?
Aside from its environmental benefits, ACRE offers very practical advantages over wood. ACRE is:
- Water resistant
- Weather resistant
- Pest resistant
- Slip resistant
- Easier on blades than hardwoods
- Free from knots or sap lines
- Paint and stain ready, no primer needed
- Suitable for direct ground contact
- Guaranteed not to rot or splinter
And it behaves like wood! There is no need for any special tools—you can cut and craft ACRE with the woodworking tools you have on hand. In fact, it’s much easier on your tools than hardwood.
In comparison with PVC, ACRE creates no harmful dust, no static cling and no plasticky look or smell. Unlike PVC, it can be painted or stained without priming. Unlike composites, ACRE is lightweight yet strong and straight. It’s much easier on tools and blades than composites. It offers strong screw and nail retention without mushrooming, splitting, or pre-drilling.
What’s the Best Use for ACRE?
That’s a tough question to answer because ACRE has almost limitless applications! In short, ACRE is appropriate for any project for which you would traditionally use wood, aside from framing. It can be purchased in sheets, trim board, decking, porch boards, shiplap siding, millwork, you name it. Plus, its slip resistance gives it extra utility beachside, poolside, or in a bath or shower. It’s a great option for any project requiring direct ground contact.
Can I Stain or Paint ACRE?
Yes! You can stain or paint ACRE, or even leave it unfinished (though we’d suggest at least a sealant, especially for outdoor uses).
There are some important factors to consider when painting or staining ACRE, and we have had a good number of customers asking for guidance. Sunlight or other heat sources can change ACRE’s physical properties and could result in warping, excess movement or other forms of deformation. This can be completely avoided, however, by choosing the correct paint or stain.
This is less complicated than it might sound. Start with two basics:
1) Use a water-based product and,
2) Check the light reflective value (LRV). The following guidelines offer even more detailed recommendations:
For Light Color
Choose an exterior 100% acrylic latex w/light reflective value (LRV) above 55.
For Medium Colors
Choose an exterior 100% acrylic latex and use only those colors that state specifically on the label that they are made for vinyl building products. Use water-based solar reflective coatings.
For Dark and Custom Colors
The best way to figure out the best stain or paint to use for your ACRE project is to stop by Koopman Lumber and talk to one of our experts, who will be happy to review your options and make sure you’re selecting the right products.
ACRE Manufacturer Modern Mill has also created a helpful “cheat sheet” to guide you through the process of selecting paint and stain for your ACRE application:
How can I learn more?
You know that Koopman is your family-owned resource for contractors, builders and DIY warriors. We’re also your go-to experts on ACRE, its many uses and applications, and all the important tips and tricks to get the most out of this versatile material and step into a world beyond wood. Stop by a location and we’ll be happy to talk about how ACRE might be the best choice for your next project. Reach out to us and let us get you started!