When it comes time to replace old decking or build a new deck, many homeowners try to decide between Azek TimberTech vs Trex Decking.
TimberTech is a brand name in the category of PVC decking, while Trex is a brand name in the category of composite decking. Lets take a look at what each type of decking material is, how much it costs to install a PVC vs a composite deck, as well as the pros and cons of each option.
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AZEK vs Trex Composite Decking
Before you can accurately compare AZEK decking to Trex, you need to understand what they are.
TimberTech AZEK decking
AZEK decking is a PVC product from TimberTech, a well-respected brand in the industry. PVC decking is made using recycled plastic. Note, the terms “Azek” and “TimberTech” are often used interchangeably and are both referring to the same decking product.
AZEK offers three general product categories:
Azek Harvest (budget level)
Azek Arbor ( mid range)
Azek Vintage (high end)
The boards are available in 3 widths (narrow 3.5 in., standard 5.5 in., and wide 7.25 in.) and lengths (12 ft., 16 ft., and 20 ft.)
Trex Composite Decking
By contrast, Trex composite decking is produced from a combination of recycled wood chips along with sawdust, and recycled plastic. Specifically, it is made from high-density polyethylene, which is the same type of plastic that is frequently used for making detergent bottles, buckets, and milk jugs.
Similar to AZEK, Trex is available in 3 material grades:
Trex Select (budget level)
Trex Enhance (mid level)
Trex Transcend (high end)
Azek vs Trex: the main difference
The biggest difference between the two types of decking is their material. AZEK TimberTech is made from recycled plastic and does not contain any wood, while composite decking has both wood and plastic in its material. As a result, the presence of wood gives Trex a slightly more natural and less “plastic” appearance compared to AZEK decking.
Did you know? Both composite and PVC decking are available capped or uncapped. Uncapped versions are more affordable, but capped decking has an extra layer that is a hard outer shell. The capping is bonded with the core material as part of manufacturing. Capped decking can feature UV-inhibitors and increases performance and durability. AZEK decking is capped.
Decking cost: Is AZEK more pricey than Trex?
Decking material costs are a huge factor for many homeowners looking to build a new deck. Generally speaking, composite Trex decking costs about 10-20% less than AZEK decking upfront when comparing the same quality products.
For a basic construction, average size deck of 120 (10×20) sq.ft. you are looking to spend $1,765 for a mid-level quality Trex Enhance Deck installed on an existing substrate and without railings. The cheapest Trex Select deck of this size will cost you about $910, while the most expensive Trex Transcend deck with all the add-ons such as Trex railings and Trex substructure will cost $4,453.
An average 20×20 square foot deck (400 sq.ft) by Trex Enhance without railings and existing substrate will cost $5,884 Adding Trex railings and substrate will bring the price up to $13,676
Comparatively, the same mid-range quality 120 sq.ft. AZEK Arbor deck costs $2,400 – 3,140 built on an existing wood substrate without railings. The cheapest AZEK Harvest deck of this size without railings will cost $2,160, while the most expensive AZEK vintage option with AZEK railings and substructure will cost $4,440
An average 20×20 square foot deck (400 sq.ft) by AZEK Arbor, without railings, will cost $8,000 – 10,400. Adding AZEK railings will bring the cost up to $10,400 – 13,300
As you can see, the cost of Trex decking on its own is 40-50% cheaper compared to the cost of AZEK decking of the same class. However, when you add the cost of Trex railings and substrate, the total cost for Trex becomes just as expensive as for AZEK. Thus, a great way to save a few thousand dollars on a new Trex deck is to install regular wood railings and wood substrate.
You can estimate accurate decking prices for both AZEK and Trex using our Deck Cost Calculator.
AZEK decking cost per square foot
Most AZEK decking is within a similar price range, so you can expect to pay about $9 to $14 per square foot materials only, depending on the color and collection you choose. When you include the cost of railings, substrate and installation the cost goes up to $23.50 – 37 per square foot, depending on the collection you want.
Lets take a closer look at the cost of various Azek boards from Home Depot and Lowe’s:
The AZEK Vintage PVC Multi-width Decking Board from Home Depot in Mahogany costs $69.56 each, with each board covering up to 5 square feet. As such, the cost per square foot is about $13.91.
By contrast, AZEK Harvest PVC Decking Board in Brown Stone, also from Home Depot, costs $43.96 each, with each board covering up to 5 square feet. This translates into a cost per square foot of about $8.79.
At Lowe’s, TimberTech AZEK Vintage 20-ft Coastline PVC Deck Board costs $105 and covers 11.75 square feet. This translates into $8.94 per square foot.
Some shorter boards are slightly more expensive per square foot at Lowe’s. For example, the TimberTech AZEK Vintage 12-ft English Walnut PVC Fascia Deck Board covers 11.75 square feet, so at $117 per piece, it costs $9.96 per square foot.
The TimberTech AZEK Vintage Narrow Width 20-ft Mahogany PVC Deck Board covers 5.83 square feet, translating into a cost of $12.35 per square foot.
The TimberTech AZEK Vintage Narrow Width 16-ft Coastline PVC Deck Board has a similar price per square foot of $12.47 — $58.24 for 4.67 square feet.
Trex decking cost per square foot
To put those figures in perspective, the typical cost for Trex composite decking is about $6.68 to $9.96 per square foot depending on the collection you select. This is the cost estimate for the decking material only, without railings or substructure.
Trex railing costs around $6.5 per square foot, and Trex substrate costs around $12-13 per square foot.
Average decking installation costs
Those above figures are just for the materials. When you factor in the labor associated with installation, the average cost of building a deck increases. Decking pros charge $7.50-9 per square foot for straight forward deck installations. However, building a more complex deck can cost as much as $20+ per square foot, depending on the labor involved.
Adding stairs costs $15-25 per square foot.
For composite Trex decking, the cost of installed material per square foot with standard railings and substrate is between $15.5 – 20.5 per square foot. Using Trex brand railings and substrate brings the costs up to $23.5-29.5 per square foot.
For AZEK decking, the average cost of installed material per square foot is between $17.50 – 27.5 per square foot without railings and standard substrate. Adding AZEK railings increases the total cost to $23.5-37.
Cost of Real Wood decking vs. AZEK vs Trex
Like other types of decking, the cost of real wood decking depends on the particular wood species and grade you select.
Redwood decking typically costs $5 to $30 per square foot, just for the material. Cedar costs $3 to $7 for a square foot.
Did you know? Redwood and cedar have lower labor costs and warp less than pressure-treated wood, but they require high maintenance and only last around 15 to 20 years, even with proper maintenance.
Mahogany decking has a typical cost of $8 to $11 per square foot, once again just for the planks. Bamboo decking is typically relatively affordable, costing $3 to $10 for each square foot.
Tigerwood, African and Brazilian hardwood, costs between $7 and $15 per square foot. Ipe, an exotic hardwood, costs $10 to $20 for each square foot.
Pressure-treated wood decks tend to have a cost of $2 to $5 per square foot for just the decking boards.
Considering that the materials for AZEK decking are usually between $8.50 and $14 a square foot, while composite decking is typically $7.50 to $9 per square foot, either of these options can be more affordable or more expensive than real wood.
In most cases, high-quality real wood decking will be more expensive than either AZEK or composite, especially if you opt for redwood or exotic wood.
Azek Decking Pros
Take a closer look at some of the advantages that AZEK plastic decking has over other types of decks.
Longevity: AZEK decking lasts a long time. In fact, its the second longest lasting decking material, after steel, and has a service life of about 25-30 years. TimberTech includes a limited lifetime warranty on the AZEK line.
Warranties: That limited lifetime warranty is the structural warranty on AZEK for residential uses. There is also a 50-year Fade and Stain warranty.
Multiple appearances: Compared to other plastic decks, AZEK TimberTech is the only decking material that offers such an extensive range of natural looking wood grains and colors. Their Arbor, Vintage and Harvest Collection can suite a wide variety of tastes and home styles.
Embedded color: The color in AZEK decking is embedded within the plastic, instead of being applied on top. This allows for a great deal of color resistance, as scratches or dings will not reveal material in another color.
Maintenance: One of the biggest advantages of PVC decking is that there is no need to sand, stain, or seal your AZEK deck every few years, like you would need to with a real wood deck. This saves a significant amount of time, money and hassle in terms of maintenance.
Resists mildew and mold: Compared to composite decking, AZEK and other PVC decks do a bit better at resisting mildew and mold.
Highly durable: AZEK is resistant to scratches, insects, and moisture. This resistance can help prevent damage to the decking, extending its lifespan.
Capped: AZEK decking is always capped, as that is part of the brand. This helps further reduce the chances of moisture getting into the decking, which would lead to mold and mildew. Capping also reduces the expansion and contraction that is typically associated with cheaper PVC decking.
Heat dissipation: AZEK also does slightly better at dissipating heat than composite, something which comes courtesy of its enhanced UV protection.
Recyclable: All PVC decking is 100 percent recyclable. This reduces the waste that you produce, as it will not end up in a landfill when you are done with it.
Eco-conscious: In addition to being recyclable, AZEK also makes its PVC decking from recycled plastics. This makes it even more eco-conscious since it provides a new life to plastic that would otherwise be discarded.
Lightweight: AZEK is much lighter than composite decking. This makes it significantly easier to transport. It also makes installation easier and quicker, while providing you with the versatility to install it at a range of heights.
No splinters: Because there is no wood, there is no risk of splinters.
With those positives in mind, it is time to explore the negatives of AZEK decking.
Expansion and contraction: Because of the plastic in it, AZEK decking may expand and contract over time due to temperature changes. This can result in a reduction in stability and strength.
Rigidity: AZEK is less rigid than composite decking. This can be problematic if you put heavy objects on the decking, as it can lead to sagging.
Not stain resistant: Some homeowners with AZEK decking note that it is not resistant to stains. This means you typically have to power wash the decking to get rid of stains.
Potentially slippery: Although not always the case, AZEK decking can become slippery in situations when water is present. This makes it less popular for areas by pools and hot tubs.
Pros of Trex Composite Decking
Longevity: Composite decking, like AZEK, tends to be very long-lasting, about 25-30 years.
Wide range of styles and colors: Trex gives you numerous options in terms of its appearance. You can choose from an array of grain patterns or colors.
Color throughout the material: In addition to allowing for a range of colors, composite decking has those colors go all the way through the entire board. This means that a scratch or dent will not make the color disappear. As a result, scratches, dings, and dents are frequently less noticeable on composite decking.
Looks like real wood: While AZEK can mimic the appearance of real wood, composite decking can do this to an even greater extent. In fact, the untrained eye cannot always tell the difference between real wood and composite. This more natural appearance of composite decking comes from the fact that it includes wood fibers.
Shaping: Compared to PVC decking like AZEK, composite decking tends to be much easier to shape and route. This makes it an ideal choice for decks that require curves and bends, as less effort will be required.
Longer distances: The construction of composite decking means that the boards are able to span a longer distance than you could span with AZEK.
Maintenance: Like AZEK, Trex decking requires minimal maintenance. You do not have to sand or stain it annually, as you would with wood.
Resistance: a Trex deck resists moisture, insects, and scratches.
Slip resistance: Composite decking tends to be more slip-resistant compared to plastic, including AZEK. This is another positive of the wood grain. Because of better slip resistance, composite decking is a popular choice by pools and other slippery surfaces.
No splinters: Despite containing wood, the construction of composite decking means that there is no risk of splinters.
Capped options are available: Capped composite decking boards offer yet another positive in the form of a protective polymer cap. This cap enhances the resistance of the decking to fading, stains, and scratches. It also resists mold.
Limited expansion and contraction: While the plastic in composite decking could theoretically lead to the material contracting and expanding over time, this is limited due to the presence of wood fibers. Those fibers increase the rigidity of the decking. As a result, it does not expand or contract under severe temperature fluctuations as easily.
Eco-friendly: Trex goes a long way to ensure that they are producing an environmentally friendly decking product. The company avoids using any harmful chemicals in its manufacturing process and utilizes 95% wood recycled content in its decks.
Superior scratch resistance: independent tests demonstrate that Trex has superior scratch resistance, comparable to Ipe wood. Moreover, existing scratches can be easily sanded or stained, since Trex contains wood material.
Cons of Trex Decking
Greater susceptibility to moisture and mildew: Because of the inclusion of wood in the material, composite decking has a higher risk of developing moisture, which can lead to problems like mildew.
More frequent cleaning: The wood in composite decking also makes it easier to collect dirt, which can require routine cleaning to maintain an optimal look.
Frequently porous and soft: The majority of composite materials are porous and soft. This results in easier and faster color fading and scratching.
Heavier: The heavier nature of composite decking compared to AZEK can make it more challenging to install and transport. This weight may also cause you to second-guess whether you want to install it higher up.
Return on Investment
Unsurprisingly, the return on investment for a deck will depend on the market as well as the type of deck you build. The materials and design will all play a key role.
Experts estimate that new wood decks have the highest return on investment – around 80 percent. Both Trex and AZEK decks fair about the same when it comes to returns: expect to get around 68%. Fancier and more expensive composite and plastic decks have an even lower return of about 59.9%
Which is a better deck: AZEK or Trex?
When you take everything into account, it seems that Azek and Trex are closely tied in terms of longevity, maintenance, features and overall value. While many AZEK materials are 20-40% more costly than TREX, both brands offer a number of options that come in at a similar price point.
Trex decking may be a better choice in climates that have more drastic temperature fluctuations, while AZEK will be a better fit for moisture prone and coastal regions. Moisture damage is a serious concern for decking, and its safer to go with an AZEK deck if it rains a lot where you live.
If you are worried about fading, AZEK decking overall fades slightly less than Trex. However, both brands over a 25 year color fade and stain warranty, provided that your deck faded more than 5 Delta E units (this is a special measurement used to determine the color difference between original board color and the faded one).
As for ugly scratches, Trex comes out on top as being more scratch resistant compared to AZEK, as determined by extensive lab testing. Also, existing scratches are less visible on a Trex deck.
Stain resistance has a clear winner in AZEK decking. While higher-end decking options from both AZEK and Trex are great at resisting stains and can be easily cleaned, cheaper Trex boards offer very poor resistance to stains. Even basic stains from food and grease can be very difficult or even impossible to get rid of if you have a lower grade Trex deck. This is something to consider if you have children, pets or you just know that your deck can get very messy.
In terms of curb appeal, neither deck can really compete with the look of real wood decking, although Trex is regarded as being a better replica of wood, compared to AZEK. To most people, AZEK decking looks like plastic. Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and both decking materials have plenty of attractive options to consider.
When it comes to slip resistance, Trex decking is a clear winner. Because AZEK is a plastic deck it get extremly slippery, especially when there is a lot of water or ice. Consequently, if slipping and falling is a big concern, you are better of installing a Trex deck.
Environmentally conscious homeowners can be satisfied with the fact that both AZEK TimberTech and Trex work very hard to maintain eco-friendly manufacturing practices and use recycled materials in their decks.
Lastly, if warranty is something you care about, AZEK has a much better long term recovery rate, compared to Trex. In other words, you can get more money for a much older deck replacement from AZEK than from Trex. For example, for a 23-24 year old deck Azek offers a 30% coverage, while Trex offers only 10%