Trex vs. AZEK: Which Is the Best Composite Decking?
With so many choices of low-maintenance decking out there, which one is best -- Trex vs. AZEK? It’s a question we get asked all the time. But I would rephrase the question to say instead: “With so many great choices of composite decking, is Trex or AZEK best for me?” Low-maintenance decking products have evolved and improved tremendously over the years. For example, somebody that bought a composite deck 10 years ago will have a different generation of composite decking materials, which most likely didn’t perform as well as the new generations available now. In fact, performance today is drastically better across all three of the top composite decking brands, TimberTech vs. Trex vs. AZEK (now known as TimberTech AZEK), to the point where you really can’t make a bad choice for your deck.
Which is right for you, Trex or AZEK?
I've been involved in the deck industry for now over 20 years, I have seen my share of products and trends come and go. Since I’m not a polymer scientist, and studying the chemical composition of each product is overwhelming to a layperson anyway, I go by the “proof is in the pudding” approach. In other words, how have the Trex and AZEK composite decking products performed in real life in the past compared to today? The good news is that I have installed both products in the past. These are the pros and cons of Trex and AZEK in my real-life experience as a deck builder, combined with the feedback from my clients.
Fading and Staining
This was an issue in the past but now both Trex and AZEK products seem to be performing well in this category. Any fading that does happen is minimal, and covered by warranty for both. In addition, staining is a complete non-issue on both AZEK and Trex.
AS mentioned above, they both offer fade and stain warranties, Trex for 25 years and AZEK for 50 years. However, we’ve found that the few instances that have occurred happened in the first five years.
Look and Feel
AZEK is a PVC product and will have a different feel and look to it then Trex, which is a capped composite. AZEK will be much lighter in weight and feel slightly different under your feet. The sheen is also different between the two -- AZEK has a glossier sheen than Trex’s capped composites. The best way to compare is order a sample of each and decide for yourself.
Mold and Mildew
This is a hot topic recently. Both AZEK and Trex decking are susceptible to mold. If you read the warranties, both companies exclude this kind of damage. Unfortunately, mold and mildew are a reality for any product that is outside, whether you’re using composite decking or wood.
The good news is that mold and mildew wash right off of composite decking. Unlike with wood decks, you don’t need to coat either AZEK or Trex with a water-repellent preservative.
Both AZEK and Trex decking gets hot … hotter than wood. AZEK will be slightly cooler, but head outside to enjoy your deck barefoot on a full-sun, 90-degree day, your feet will not know the difference between the 2 brands. You will be running for your flip flops on either one.
Since they are made differently, AZEK and Trex react slightly differently. This has to do with sheen and grain pattern, and how the scratches and or scuffs show up. Trex offers different tiers of product with different levels of scratch resistance – Trex Transcend the most scratch resistant. AZEK has different tiers of product as well.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day only two questions really matter:
- What’s the right composite decking for me? Don’t lose sleep over this choice. You want a deck to spend time with your loved ones outside, not for AZEK’s specific mixture of plastic compared to Trex’s. Most of our customer end up choosing their composite decking based on color and budget.
- How do the boards look and feel at my house? Try them out at your own home to find out. Order a sample of each and lay them next to your house. Lay them in both the sun and the shade to see how the color reads – and how hot they get. Run your keys across the top or have your kids hit them with a hammer to see how they hold up. You’ll feel better much about your real-life comparison between AZEK vs. Trex than you will analyzing their chemical composition.
Develop a relationship with your deck builder, let them know your vision and goals, then go for it. Finding a designer and builder for your deck that you mesh with means that you can put your energy into planning the next cook-out.
Soon you’ll be spending time out on your new deck and enjoying life outside.