What is Kenaf?
A plant species native to the tropics used for centuries as a source of
jute based fibers ... rope, burlap cloth, bags, twine, etc. Kenaf has
a long history as a traditional backyard fiber crop in Africa and Asia.
An annual hibiscus plant ... a member of the mallow family, which includes
the well-known crops of cotton and okra. Kenaf is a tough, fibrous plant
that resembles a very tall okra plant with similar leaves and blossoms.
Why use Kenaf based
Kenaf is extremely environmentally friendly with minimal requirements
for agricultural chemicals. Kenaf is richer in cellulose than wood. The
product potential for using Kenaf seems unlimited. Kenaf gives manufacturers
a choice between making products with traditional wood or using an annual
crop base for fiber that does not endanger or deplete our forests and
Where is Kenaf
Kenaf is best grown in the warmer areas of the temperate zones ... such
as the southern tier of the US cotton belt like the Lower Rio Grande Valley
of Texas. Kenaf is planted and grown very close together and given the
right moisture, nutrients and plenty of sunlight stalks can reach heights
of 12 feet or more in about 180 days. The dry weight yield when harvested
ranges between four and seven tons per acre.
What fibers come
The dry Kenaf stalk is composed of two distinct fibers ... bast (bark)
fiber & core. Bast fiber ... long jute like fibers making up about
35 percent of the plant weight. Core ... short, balsa wood like fibers
making up the woody core of the stalk and representing about 65 percent
of the plant weight.
What can Kenaf
fibers be used for?
Fibers are used in two basic forms ... whole stalk and separated/bast
fiber and core portions. Whole stalks are generally shredded to make a
variety of products, such as newsprint. The bast fiber and core are separated
by chopping the stalk, which then goes through a unique separation process.
Core and bast fibers are used in a wide range of products ... interior
car parts, absorbents to clean up oil spills, soil-less potting mixes,
animal bedding and extruded composite lumber like K~Decking.
Who is Kenaf Industries
of South Texas?
Kenaf Industries of South Texas (KIST) is a global company providing industry
with an alternative annual fiber source. The company grows (seed and fiber),
harvests, and processes Kenaf. Kenaf Industries is dedicated to marketing
its current Kenaf fiber products and developing new applications for this
annual crop fiber.
Where is KIST located?
Kenaf Industries of South Texas L.P. is located in Willacy County on a
large track of prime farmland. Willacy County is a part of the Lower Rio
Grande Valley ... the river delta of the Rio Grande River located at the
southern tip of Texas. The farming operation and processing plant is two
miles north west of Lasara Texas and 10 miles due west of Raymondville,
What industry products
does KIST provide?
Currently, the Kenaf Industries Fiber Processing operation provides industry
with three forms of Kenaf fibers ... bast fiber in 400-lb. bales, bags
of milled and screened core, and bagged core powder. Kenaf bast fibers
(from its bark) are being used in place of fiberglass in the making of
molded car parts. The European automotive trim industry is now in its
third year of using Texas grown Kenaf fibers in door panels and other
What Is K~Decking?
It is a uniquely extruded lumber based primarily on farm-grown Kenaf fiber
supplemented by polypropylene. Kenaf, an annual hibiscus plant, is grown
and processed by Kenaf Industries of South Texas L.P. near Raymondville,
Texas. The Kenaf fiber is well known for "high strength; low weight"
in a wide range of industrial applications.
K~Decking is currently available as a 5/4 x 5 ¼ plank in varying
lengths at your local McCoys Building Supply Center. Other profiles are
being designed for future availability.
What are the differences
between K~Decking and other Decking Products?
There are several kinds of decking available: Untreated wood (varying
species and densities); wood that has been pressure treated (generally
with an arsenic based compound); vinyl; and extruded composites made from
wood and a variety of polymers. Unlike the competition, K~Decking is primarily
farm-grown fiber that is combined with clean polymers to produce a top
quality-decking product that won't generate splinters or possibly harmful
chemicals. It has the advantages of low thermal expansion/contraction,
natural UV stability, good traction and easy to paint or stain (only if
you want to!). Cleaner, Safer, Durable, and Easy to Maintain!
Where can you purchase
K~Decking and how much does it cost?
K~Decking is available at all McCoy's Building Supply Centers in the Rio
Grande Valley of Texas as of October 2001. Plans are to enter other market
areas based on demand. You should contact the Manager of your local McCoy's
and ask about availability. The product lasts much longer than pressure-treated
lumber without expensive maintenance or toxic preservatives. Your McCoy's
manager will help you calculate cost comparisons over the life of your
Can K~Decking be
painted or stained?
Yes, but only if you really want to. K~Decking readily accepts paint or
stain though neither is required for protection. In general, paints or
stains that adhere well to wood will adhere as well or better to K~Decking.
Quality latex paints (water based) or solid color stains are recommended.
Stain and paint applications should be applied according to the manufacturer
instructions after K~Decking has weathered for a couple months.
How do you clean
stains on K~Decking?
For stains caused by mold, mildew, berries and leaves, conventional deck
washes containing sodium hypochlorite work well. For rust stains, ground-in
dirt and grime, use cleaners containing phosphoric acid. For grease and
oil stains, we recommend that you scrub with a detergent containing a
degreasing agent as soon as the stain occurs. A light sanding with 80-grit
sandpaper works well in removing grease stains that have been allowed
to set. Cleaning out your expansion gaps with a flat tool should be done
along with any periodic cleaning.
Will K~Decking absorb moisture?
Because the polypropylene in K~Decking encapsulates the Kenaf fiber, moisture
absorption is extremely low.
What happens to
K~Decking in cold weather?
While cold weather is admittedly a rare occurrence in South Texas, K~Decking performs well in extreme cold weather environments. However, because K~Decking contains polypropylene, it will be harder to nail or screw when very cold.
Under such conditions, only pre-drilling is recommended.
What happens to
K~Decking in hot weather?
The span charts and gapping procedures described in the installation are
designed to ensure that K~Decking performs well in extreme hot weather.
When the temperature increases, K~Decking could expand slightly.
Will insects damage
K~Decking is highly resistant to damage from termites, carpenter ants,
and marine borers. These insects do not find Kenaf attractive in its natural
state and the addition of the polypropylene closes it off for them without
the need for toxic chemicals.
What is the fire
rating for K~Decking?
K~Decking like most composite wood/plastic lumber is rated as a Class
C (or Class III) building material. It burns similarly to wood, but requires
a much more intense source of heat.
How does the weight
of K~Decking compare to forest-derived lumber?
Because of its density, K~Decking is comparable in weight to hardwoods.
In comparison to softwoods such as redwood, cedar and treated southern
pine, K~Decking can weigh up to twice as much.