Trex vs Azek
So, you’re in the process of picking out composite decking and are trying to decide which is best. You’ve narrowed down your choices to two of the top decking products on the market, Trex and Azek. But in a head to head match up of Trex vs Azek, which would win. Which decking is better? Which lasts longer and has the better warranty? Is there a difference in how they feel? Which is more expensive and which decking offers the best value for your money? Both brands have their merits – as well as their drawbacks. Ahead, we’ll thoroughly compare Azek and Trex to help you decide which decking is the best choice.
There are several benefits to adding a deck to your home. Whether you’re interested in hosting summer barbecues with friends and family or just want an outdoor space to hang out. Investing in a composite deck is a wise decision that’ll help you get the most enjoyment out of your home.
More and more people each year are switching from old fashioned wood decks to composite. Why? Wood decks are harder to clean, and typically don’t last as long as composites do. But honestly, the #1 reason by far is maintenance, no one wants to do it anymore. The trend in outdoor materials is overwhelmingly in favor of non maintenance materials.
Now, before you decide between Azek or Trex, it’s best to have a good understanding of both brands along with all their pros and cons. When making your selection make sure and consider the purpose of the deck, your family’s needs, your local weather, and your overall budget. By doing this, you’ll ensure you buy the right decking for your personal needs.
What Is Composite Decking?
Composite decking is a man-made building product made of recycled wood fibers and/or recycled plastic. Because composite decking is so durable and impervious to rot, they have a much longer lifespan than wood decking and require little to no maintenance. They don’t need the staining, sanding or sealing that wood decking does. Composite decking comes in a wide variety of colors and multiple sizes.
Considering the many benefits of composite decking, such as lower maintenance and resistance to mold and insects, composite decking is widely considered one of the most durable decking products on the market today. In addition to these advantages, new capped composite decking is also stain and fade resistant, which makes it even easier to clean with very high color retention. All maintaining your composite deck requires is regular cleaning with a simple garden hose and a mild household cleaner.
Capped composite decking is sealed by a protective layer called the cap. This protective “cap” layer makes decking easier to clean if mold and mildew start to form on the surface. Since there are exposed wood fibers in uncapped composite decking and wood, they can be susceptible to mold growth just like any outdoor porous surface. However, washing your deck periodically will help keep mold at bay.
Installation of composite decking is the same as traditional wood decking with the added benefit of optional side grooves for hidden fasteners. Hidden fastener systems make use of grooves built into the sides of decking boards for a smooth surface without any visible screws.
Possibly best of all, composite decking has absolutely no splinters, doesn’t twist or warp and comes with a slip resistant grain finish just like real wood.
What Is Trex Decking?
Trex is composed of 95% recycled material and is designed to look and feel like real wood. This recycled material includes things like ground up plastic, sawdust, and reclaimed wood. When compared to other kinds of composite or PVC decking, Trex has a much more natural look and feel. Everyone loves the natural look of wood but don’t want to deal with all the painting, staining and sealing. Wood decks of all types, including pressure-treated wood, ipe, cedar or redwood, require extensive upkeep. Trex was designed to have with the beauty of wood decking without all the maintenance. These high-performance, eco-friendly composite boards withstand years of sun, sleet and snow, keeping their rich color.
Each Trex board is designed to mimic the subtle imperfections found in real wood grain. Boards have additional colors added into the surface which enhances it’s natural appearance.
Its durable outer shell resists scratching which means that day to day things like pushing your chair out from under the table or letting your dog out onto the deck won’t damage the decking.
Finally, Trex is environmentally friendly. It’s made from 95% recycled materials, including recycled sawdust, and claims to be the most eco-friendly decking material on the market.
Trex comes in three different varieties, Trex Transcend Composite Decking is considered the premium option. Trex Enhance and Trex Select are also high performance composite decking models that are backed by the company’s warranty and come in a wide variety of colors.
What Is Azek Decking?
Azek decking is made of a cellular PVC material which is basically plastic. Because the core contains no wood fibers, it won’t absorb moisture or be susceptible to rot. And just like with Trex, it’s composite core and sturdy capping keep your deck’s aesthetic beauty by repelling scratches, dents, and even insects. You can relax knowing your deck can take on just about anything. It’s Alloy Armour shell contains UV protection which resists fading under the harsh sun.
Capped polymer decking designed for unrivaled high-performance and beauty. AZEK decking is engineered to last longer than any other composite decking, with a natural hardwood look and feel. Like Trex, Azek decking comes with a natural wood grain and multi colored surface for a more natural appearance.
Engineered to stay true over time, colors are backed by a 50-Year Limited Fade & Stain Warranty. Choose from plentiful hues ranging from rich browns to grays and natural hardwoods like mahogany.
Available in either standard, narrow, or wide-width boards which allows you to create a variety of sophisticated looks. A natural, hardwood look with decking that’s 100% synthetic.
Which Scratches Less?
If you look at the edge of a composite deck board you’ll see that it’s made up of two parts. The core or inside part and the thin outer shell as shown in the close up pic above. In industry terms that thin protective outer shell is called the cap. Also referred to as a deck boards capping. Think of it as the hard chocolate shell of an ice cream bar. Both companies have this protective outer shell which is a coating of durable material that resists mold, staining, scratches and fading. Capping significantly prolongs the life of composite decking in both Azek and Trex.
Durability of the cap is a major concern since that’s the area exposed to the blazing sun, frigid winter temperatures, staining, and potential scratches. All outdoor materials fade over time, and you can expect minor fading from both Trex and Azek within the first few years. After that, the color will remain fairly consistent throughout the life of the deck. And if excessive fading occurs it’s covered under both company’s warranty.
Although Trex and Azek are made of tough materials, they can still both be scratched. Both brands are among the most durable composite decking products on the market. Both resist scratching far better than common treated pine decking or other soft woods. In scratch tests both Trex and Azek perform comparably to an exotic hardwood like Ipe. However, scratches in real wood don’t show up as much and can be sanded, repaired or stained away.
One of the two does perform better in scratch tests and that brand is Trex.
In our experience, based on research we’ve done and tests conducted, Trex looks to be slightly more resistant than Azek. However, since Azek is made of PVC minor scratches can be repaired with a heat gun. If your making your decision based on durability alone then it’s a toss up since technically some small scratches in Azek can be repaired. Both materials are extremely good at resisting scratches and tend to fade more or less equally.
Get some samples from your local lumber yard and do your own scratch test. Take a fork and run it over both samples with just a little bit of force. You’ll see that Azek scratches worse than a comparable model Trex.
Trex vs Azek – Which Is More Durable?
When considering the durability of composite decking you have to look at more than just the cap. That just offers surface protection. It’s what’s on the inside that really counts. Trex has a core made of 95% recycled material which includes things like ground up plastic, sawdust, and reclaimed wood. Trex is a much more natural material than Azek. On the other hand, Azek is made of entirely PVC, which is not a natural material.
Plastics last much longer and resist many of the issues that can damage Trex’s natural core. It’s because of this resistance that Azek is the clear winner. Plastic can’t rot, be eaten by bugs, is more resistant to warping and impervious to a bunch of other things that can potentially damaged Trex.
What’s Cheaper Trex or Azek?
When it comes to a head to head price comparison, Trex wins this matchup of Trex vs Azek. Prices vary based on the model Trex or Azek you buy and where and when you buy it. But with an honest comparison of low end, mid grade and premium decking samples taken from both brands. Azek is more expensive to buy than Trex by about 20% – 30% on average. Installation, framing, railings and fastener costs are all exactly the same so we’re only comparing the decking cost here.
What’s The Better Long Term Value Trex or Azek?
From what we’ve seen with our own business and based on the product research we’ve done, Azek lasts longer and looks better over time than Trex does. This is due in part because of it’s plastic core. Being plastic makes it immune to some of the long term issues that Trex’s recycled core may have to deal with. While it is more expensive up front, because there’s less things that can damage it and it stays nicer for longer, we think Azek is the better long term value.
Keep in mind this is extremely close and Azek doesn’t win by much, they’re both fantastic composite decking products and we wouldn’t recommend picking a decking just because it may last a few years longer considering Trex comes with a 25 year warranty.
Trex vs Azek: Which Looks More Like Real Wood?
Between Azek and Trex decking, Trex definitely resembles the look of wood much more than Azek. Now, that’s not to say that Azek doesn’t resemble wood too, but if a natural look is important to you, then Trex is definitely the way to go.
Azek has a more synthetic appearance because of what it’s made of but newer models get more and more natural looking as they improve the product. Trex on the other hand captures the elegance and richness found in real wood decking like few other brands can. And their constantly improving their products too, so newer models will look even better over time.
Both brands offer premium models with a wood grain and multi colored surface that gives it a more natural appearance but the winner for now is Trex.
Which Feels Better?
There’s nothing like the feel of real wood beneath your feet on a warm summer day. Since Trex is made from a mix of natural materials, it better captures the natural look and feel of wood than Azek, which is made of PVC. And best of all, Trex accomplishes without the risk of splinters while looking great and requiring no maintenance.
Both materials heat up from the sun but Azek gets a bit hotter. PVC doesn’t disperse heat as well as the natural materials in Trex so it gets hot which can be uncomfortable on your feet.
Both materials feel as soft in terms of bounce provided the framing is equal but in terms of texture Trex wins again. PVC has a sterile, cold feel where natural materials feel better on your bare feet. However if your wearing shoes you won’t notice a difference.
Which Fades Less?
When it comes to fade resistance, Azek wins this match up of Trex vs Azek. Keep in mind that Trex comes in a variety of models that resist fading to varying degrees. Cheaper Trex fades more than the premium options, but on average, Azek fades less overtime. However both brands due fade a shade or two lighter than how they look when brand new.
Both brands cover excessive fading under their respective warranties.
This resistance to fading keeps Azek decks looking newer for longer which helps improve it’s long term value and for some, may make Azek worth the extra up front material costs.
Resistance To Harsh Weather
Although both Azek and Trex are weather resistant, Azek tends to be more resistant to moisture because it’s made of PVC, which doesn’t absorb water. However because it’s PVC, Azek expands and contracts more than Trex does, making it less resistant to temperature changes. This expansion and contraction over time can cause cracking and other issues with the boards. Make sure when you install Azek the boards are all tightly secured to cut down on these issues.
When considering resistance to harsh weather, the winner this match up of Trex vs Azek is Azek.
If you live in areas with hot summers and cold winters like here in NJ, you may want to choose Trex. Even though Trex expands and contracts with temperature changes too, it’s less of an issue. However with proper installation some of these issues can be reduced or eliminated.
On the flip side, if you live in a region with a lot of rain, then Azek may be the better choice as it doesn’t absorb water.
The reason we give the edge here to Azek is because water issues are much more serious than a cracked piece of decking. Azek issues will be primarily cosmetic. However if Trex starts to absorb water you could be dealing with all sorts of big problems which in extreme cases includes replacing all your decking.
A slippery deck is extremely dangerous and can lead to a serious accident, especially if your deck is around a pool or hot tub. Trex boards with a wood grain surface is a much better choice than Azek boards. While both Trex and Azek are offered with a wood grain surface, the material Trex is made of is less slippery than Azek’s PVC.
Anyone who’s owned an Azek deck will tell you it gets very slippery when wet. Not too mention it does poorly in winter and is prone to icing. When we build Azek decks in winter we always take special care to look over the entire deck for ice each morning to avoid falls. We check with Trex too just to be on the safe side but it’s much less of an issue.
When comparing premium grade Trex models to Azek in terms of stain resistance, both brands perform about the same. They both have a protective shell that’s specifically designed to resist common stains if cleaned quickly. If spills are allowed to sit for a while then both materials will stain and removing that stain will be just as hard no matter which brand you go with. However, this all changes when comparing cheaper models of Trex to Azek.
Cheaper models of Trex perform really bad in a stain test. Almost anything permanently stains it including something as simple as foot prints. And don’t ever drop anything greasy on the deck, it’s totally impossible to get out. You have to replace the entire deck board or cut out the stained area. This is mainly true of older model’s that didn’t have as good a shell coating or no shell at all. However it still has to be mentioned since these models are still available to buy new in lumber yards all over the state and some of you may be considering using them.
In this match up of Trex vs Azek we have to give the edge to Azek. While comparing premium grade Trex to Azek may be a tie, cheaper model Trex decking performs so badly you have to factor this into the overall stain resistance of the brand.
Green Building Materials
If you’re trying to live a more environmental friendly life and want to use green building materials, then Trex is definitely the composite material for you.
Trex eco friendly composite decking is made from an innovative blend of 95% recycled wood and plastic film. On top of that, Trex uses some of the most earth friendly manufacturing processes in the country, reclaiming factory waste and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals. Trex offers consumers a truly environmentally responsible choice. When you invest in a Trex deck, you can feel good that you’re using the greenest composite decking on the market.
Trex claims they have never cut down a single tree manufacturing any of their composite decking products.
Azek on the other hand is made of plastic and other chemicals that are molded together which is as far away from a green building material as you can get.
In the Trex vs Azek battle of green building materials the clear winner is Trex.
Trex vs Azek – Who Has The Better Warranty?
A 25-year fade and stain warranty covers all models of Trex decking. Azek, which owned by Timbertech offers a basically identical warranty however their fade and stain warranty is good for 30-years. Both offer limited warranties that cover material defects, splinters and rot on all of their capped decking products.
You can read the updated warranty on each manufacturer’s website as they are subject to change. We’re up to date with both of them and for the most part both warranties are very good and are essentially identical.
When a customer does take advantage of their warranty, both companies will either replace the damaged boards or refund a portion of the money for the defected items. However this doesn’t include the cost of initial installation.
When it comes to fading, both warranties state that their composite decking will not fade more than 5 Delta E units from either weather or sunlight otherwise they’ll refund or replace the discolored boards.
If you’re unfamiliar with what Delta E is, it’s a way of measuring the difference between two or more colors. For example, a color labeled as 1 Delta E is visually different that a color labeled as 10 Delta E.
As mentioned above, your deck must have faded to a level of 5 Delta E or more for the warranty to be used. This means that even though your deck is experiencing fading, you won’t be able to use your warranty unless it meets at least a 5 Delta E rating. So, what can you do? A quality sealer will protect your deck from not just mold, but will also help prevent fading caused by weather or sunlight.
Mold & Mildew
Both Trex and Azek claim their products are resistant to mold and mildew. However, when it comes to their warranties, they state that a customer is responsible for cleaning their deck on a regular basis. This includes cleaning off any mold, dirt, and pollen. The warranty will not be valid for homeowners who haven’t held up their part of the deal. On the other hand, if you’ve always cleaned your deck properly, and you still see excessive mold growth, then your warranty should cover the damage.
Pro Tip: Although the maintenance for composite decking is minimal, regularly sweeping and cleaning with a mild soap and water is expected and is key to preventing mold and mildew growth.
A Sliding Scale
The last thing you need to understand about both Azek and Trex’s warranty is that they’re based on a sliding scale. In other words, the older the deck is, the less of a percentage you’ll receive for replacement costs. The time recorded is based on the year that you made the claim compared with when you bought the decking. The older the deck, the less of a percentage you’ll receive. See the rates below:
Trex Warranty Coverage
1 to 10 years old: 100%
11 to 13 years old: 80%
14 to 16 years old: 60%
17 to 19 years old: 40%
20 to 22 years old: 20%
23 to 25 years old: 10%
Timbertech Warranty Coverage
1 to 10 years old: 100%
11 to 12 years old: 90%
13 to 14 years old: 80%
15 to 16 years old: 70%
17 to 18 years old: 60%
19 to 20 years old: 50%
21 to 22 years old: 40%
23 to 24 years old: 30%
25 to 26 years old: 20%
27 to 30 years old: 10%
As you can see from the information above, you’ll receive a greater long term recovery rate from Azek than you will from Trex. Both companies offer excellent warranties, but you’ll be better protected over the years when you choose Timbertech.
Caution: Check with the manufacturer for complete, up to date warranty information as both Trex and Azek may change their warranty coverage after this article is written.
Trex vs Azek – Do They Actually Honor Their Warranty?
Yes. But in our experience it’s sometimes not an easy process and at times they’ll use every excuse in the book not to pay up. If you have a warranty claim that’s not an obvious defect then they’ll fight the claim. They don’t want to pay if they don’t have to. It’s like working with any insurance company, you have to prove your claim. They don’t just write you a check because you ask for one.
Of course if you have a legitimate claim, and can prove it, they’ll pay you what’s owed. Just be prepared for a battle to get your money. And keep in mind it gets harder to prove the longer the decking has been installed. It’ll be easy to get a claim paid if the decking was recently installed but much harder if it’s 15 years old.
Make sure you don’t do anything to void the warranty. That’s a big one. If you haven’t cleaned it properly. Or worst of all, haven’t installed it properly, they generally won’t honor the warranty.
Trex has settled a number of class action lawsuits recently and if you read their better business complaints you’ll find Trex can be a pain to deal with. They’re getting better but still have a long way to go in terms of answering warranty claims. However Timbertech, who owns Azek, isn’t perfect in this regard either.
Trex vs Azek – Maintenance
Neither Azek or Trex need to be sanded or stained regularly or require any other form of regular maintenance. But even though they don’t require any major maintenance does that mean you don’t have to do anything at all? How do you properly maintain your Azek or Trex deck?
It’s highly recommended that you clean both brands of decking with warm water, soap, and a soft sponge or cloth. By doing this regularly, you’ll keep your deck looking great for years to come while also removing mold growth. Regular cleaning is also a requirement under the terms of your warranty so make sure you do it when your supposed to or you’ll run the risk of voiding your warranty.
Both brands require the same amount of regular cleanings to help prevent mold. Both also offer nearly the exact same warranty which can be void if you fail to clean your deck.
Pro Tip: Keep your deck clean.
Trex vs Azek Decking Gallery
Both Trex and Azek decking products are truly fantastic products. You really can’t go wrong no matter which you choose. Here’s a gallery of beautiful decks to remind you exactly why you wanted that deck in the first place.
When comparing Trex vs Azek, there are Pros and Cons to both materials. Azek is quite a bit more expensive due to how it’s made but it’s a great long term value that’s more durable than Trex. However, premium grade Trex isn’t cheap, it’s also very durable but has a more natural look and feel than Azek. On the other hand, Azek is more resistant to fading while Trex is much more environmental friendly, and the back and forth goes on.
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference as both companies make great composite decking products. Trex vs Azek is an ongoing, ever changing discussion, as each company continues to innovate, improve and reinvent their product lines.
If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.