Learn about the key differences to help you make the decision that’s best for your decking project.
Our customers often ask about the difference between TimberTech vs Trex. Here’s some basic info to help you decide whether a Trex composite deck or TimberTech composite deck is right for your outdoor living space.
Trex invented the composite decking board in 1996 and is widely known as the pioneer in the wood-alternative industry. They began by manufacturing a single color decking board, which they patented in 1998. The inventors took plastic that would otherwise have gone to landfills and used it to make a composite decking board that could withstand the elements much longer than wood decks. Since then, that basic Trex deck board has undergone many upgrades and as the technology improved, so did the product offerings. They now offer a full line of products from composite decking and railings to lighting and outdoor furniture.
TimberTech’s original launch was also early in the industry’s development. They entered the composite decking market in 1997, also with only one decking board in one color. But growth and innovation have allowed Timbertech to become a leader in composite railing systems. Early in the industry’s development, white PVC railing was the only color option available. TimberTech’s award-winning rail line was the first to include black as an option and now includes a wide range of browns and grays. TimberTech is now part of CPG building products which also owns Azek.
Understanding the difference between TimberTech vs Trex requires a little background into how composite decking is manufactured. Both companies use a mix of recycled wood fibers and plastics to manufacture the core of their decking boards. It’s a combination of sawdust and ground-up wood from sawmills and furniture factories, along with recycled plastics from milk jugs and grocery bags. The main difference in the two companies is in how the boards are “capped.” Capped boards are coated with a durable plastic protective shell that resists mold, staining, and fading. Capping significantly prolongs the life of composite boards, but there are two different approaches about the best way to cap a composite board.
As you can see from the image above, Trex caps only the top of the boards. Their thought process is that moisture will inevitably get in, so Trex leaves the bottom wide open for the board to breathe and expel any moisture.
TimberTech boards are fully capped - the PVC coating wraps completely around each board with the intention of sealing out all moisture completely.
I often compare this to a window installation. One approach is to try to seal out all the moisture by caulking everything. The other approach is to assume that moisture will inevitably find a way in and instead create weep holes for the moisture to find a way out. TimberTech has taken the “seal out” approach and Trex has taken the “weep hole” approach.
Another thing to consider is the durability of the cap since that’s portion of the board that’s exposed to the blazing sun, frigid winter temperatures, falling leaves and pollen, staining, and potential scratching from moving furniture or excited pets. All materials fade over time, and you can expect minor fading from both Trex and TimberTech products within the first 3-4 months. After that, the color will remain consistent throughout the life of the deck.
Scratching is a different story, and you can test this very easily at home. Take a sample piece of each board and run your keys on top of the boards. In our experience, Trex Transcend is the most durable product on the market. It resists scratching far better than any of the other options. This is not a big concern for many of our clients, but for others, it’s a deal breaker. If a scratch in your hardwood flooring drives you crazy, chances are that scratches in your new deck will also drive you crazy so make sure you consider this when choosing your capped wood composite.
Composite decking is more expensive than traditional wood, but over time, it will definitely save you money on maintenance and repair. Both Trex and TimberTech offer several tiers of composite decking products, from least to most expensive.
It’s difficult to get too specific about pricing because there are so many variables involved in deck building, but a realistic price range for our area is $12,000-$15,000 for an average 300 sq ft composite deck project. On the lower end, the TimberTech Terrain Collection™ is comparable to TrexSelect®, though TimberTech tends to be a bit more expensive.
In a high-end comparison of the Legacy Collection by TimberTech vs Trex Transcend, TimberTech offers the most realistic-looking boards, while Trex Transcend is widely known as the most durable composite on the market.
Keep in mind that the final price will ultimately depend on your unique deck space, the size of your deck, and the add-ons you choose, from fasteners and finishing to railings and lighting. Check out our Deck Design Guide to learn more about planning your custom deck project.
A 25-year fade and stain warranty covers all capped composite decking offered through Trex vs Timbertech’s 30-year warranty. Both offer limited warranties that cover material defects, splinters and rot on all of their capped decking as well. Though 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. Mold and mildew growth is not covered by their product warranties if it’s not properly cleaned.
Composite decking has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 90s, and TimberTech and Trex have led the way through growth and innovation. If you’ve chosen low maintenance, weather and scratch-resistant composite for your decking project, you really can’t go wrong with either brand but it is definitely worth a closer examination of the specific products offered.
At Woodland, we are proud to partner with Trex as a Certified Trex Pro Platinum Installer, so we’re able to offer the full range of products from Trex decks including railings, lighting, pergolas, and more. Our deck experts have also been working with TimberTech for years and are skilled installers of their 4-sided capped composite products.
It’s a tough decision, but we’re here to help! We’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss the products in more detail, and we can provide samples to help you make the decision that’s best for your decking project. Contact us today to discuss your next deck project or to get an estimate.
November 8th, 2018