Using Trex vs pressure-treated pine decking material means making several considerations. How much do you want to spend? Are you building a pool deck or a balcony deck? Maybe you would like a small patio deck or a large deck for your business. No matter what you are building your deck for, there are a few obvious (and not so obvious) considerations you need to make regarding functionality, longevity and other important factors.
If you use Trex as opposed to pressure-treated pine to build your deck, how long will it last? Is the extra cost involved in your up-front Trex investment worth it, or should you spend less initially for a pressure-treated pine deck? Which deck material requires more maintenance and money over time? Is one type of material better for the environment, and what do you need to know about fire rating and weather-resistance?
While the hard facts and statistics about building a deck are certainly important, there is an emotions-based question you need to ask yourself first, and that is …
Whether you want a patio deck, pool surround or balcony deck, you have certain expectations. Some folks build a backyard deck to entertain. They need their deck to provide reliable functionality that will allow them to host parties and create wonderful memories for years or decades. What you want from a pool deck is excellent water-resistance and a deck that won’t get too hot for your friends and family entering and exiting the pool.
If you are making a deck to showcase your skills as a backyard barbecue expert, you need quick and easy clean-up and stain-resistance. All these considerations mean you should know exactly what you want your deck to do. How will you be using your deck? For instance, pressure-treated decking can be used for a pool or hot tub surround, while Trex works fine in both of those applications also. Comparing a Trex vs pressure-treated pine deck begins with knowing what type of experience you are trying to create. Then you can begin an initial and long-term cost comparison.
Trex is the name of a composite deck material. It is also the name of the manufacturer that makes this combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic. A Trex deck will run about $26 to $36 per square foot to build, and that includes labor and materials. Pressure-treated decking will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 to $20 per square foot installed. As you can see, this makes treated lumber a rather attractive financial choice over Trex.
Your home was not a “one and done” purchase, and your deck isn’t either. You have to set aside money for ongoing maintenance and upkeep or your home will suffer from neglect. The same is true with your deck. Since the materials are very different, comparing Trex vs pressure-treated pine will show significant cost differences for annual and long-term maintenance.
A Trex deck can last longer than a pressure-treated deck but will require annual cleaning. A pressure treated pine deck will also require cleaning and also a good weather sealant every 1-5 years depending on the brand of stain / weather sealant used. This means the composite construction of Trex allows for much less maintenance and upkeep than treated lumber. You can expect to spend more time, elbow grease and money taking care of your pressure-treated pine deck.
Trex does not require staining or painting. Once your Trex decking gets acclimated to your environment, the resulting color will stay the same without any painting, finishing or staining.
Pressure Treated Pine (aka PTP) lumber has a much lower up-front installation cost than Trex, but will require more effort and money to maintain over time.
Some homeowners will build a basic pressure-treated deck before they list their home for sale. The low cost addition gives the home a higher perceived value than without the deck. If you are climbing the corporate ladder and don’t expect to be in your current home for more than a few years, a pressure-treated pine deck might make the most financial sense.
A PTP deck can look great with regular maintenance and upkeep for a several years, while costing less to build than a Trex deck. Treated decks are perfect for DIY homeowners that like spending their free time on home improvement projects. Why pay more for a Trex deck if you look forward to staining or sealing your deck every year or five and cleaning it frequently?
On the other hand, the durable Trex decking products carry 25 year warranties. In many cases these decks last more than 25 or 30 years. You can expect 10 to 25 years good use from a pressure-treated deck, depending on how regularly you maintain the deck and what your local climate and environment is like. The entire Trex vs pressure-treated pine deck cost comparison can be broken down for you by consulting an experienced deck builder. Call a deck builder with decades of experience making beautiful, durable decks in your area for a free, in-depth construction and maintenance cost breakdown.
The functionality and wonderful memories you get from your deck will depend largely on durability. You want decking material that is going to be unattractive to hungry bugs. Knowing the deck you build will effectively resist the effects of sun, rain and other aspects of weather is also important. You certainly don’t want a fire hazard on your hand. Both types have a man made resistance to bugs.
When a deck is built at ground level it would be best to use (ground contact) PTP but for longevity of either, then air flow (air space underneath deck) is recommended to keep them aired out and dry. Just as important is to have proper drainage underneath, meaning no standing water.
Trex decking material carries a Class C fire rating. This is the minimal fire rating suggested by independent consumer safety organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for use in building products in and around the home. This is also known as a Class III fire-resistance rating. Many of the materials used to build your home carry this exact same fire rating.
Pressure-treated pine contains chemicals and preservatives which protect your deck against rot and decay. This pressurized treatment also resists fungi, termites and other wood-chomping bugs. Pressure-treated southern yellow pine also carries a class C fire rating. But you can spend more for Dricon FRT wood or there are a number of types of fire retardant that can be applied to slow fire spread rating.
As we just mentioned, pressure treated southern yellow pine (PTP) has a chemical used in the pressurization process that it is resistant to termites and other bugs or insects that bore into wood. Trex decking materials also carry an insect resistant label, and their combination of recycled plastic materials and wood fibers make them unappealing to the crawly creatures that eat wood.
If you choose pressure-treated pine or Trex decking materials, both will resist insect infestation and rot. However, there is a point that needs to be made here. You will need to diligently seal your pressure-treated deck every years in order to help the wood retain insect resistance. This maintenance factor is not needed with Trex decking products.
A Trex deck is resistant to fading. We mentioned earlier that your Trex deck requires no ongoing staining, painting or finishing to hold its color. If you are in an extremely sunny and hot environment, you may notice gradual fading after 10 or 15 years with Trex materials. In many cases there is no significant change in coloration over the lifetime of the deck.The exterior coating (capped) of Trex decking materials repels water.
Pressure-treated pine will definitely fade over time. You can delay this affect with a regular coat of weather sealant / stain that also repels water. Concerning weather conditions such as rain or snow, Trex is going to hold up better over time than pressure-treated decking materials. In the short-term, your deck will look great and function properly during normal exposure to weather whichever of these two decking materials you choose to use.
It is probably safe to make the assumption that you want your deck to look good. No one wants to build an addition onto their house or in their backyard that looks trashy or downright ugly. When deciding on Trex vs pressure-treated pine as a deck building material, how your deck looks is not going to vary much for the first couple of years.
The difference happens down the line. The process which combines recycled plastics and wood fibers into the composite decking material (Trex) is a more costly procedure than simply pressure treating southern yellow pine. The process makes for a sturdy and long-lasting deck material that may not lose its color for 15 or 20 years.
The same is not true for pressure-treated wood. The appearance of PT pine deck materials will reflect how diligently you stain and seal your deck. If you don’t spend time on maintenance and upkeep with a pressure-treated pine deck, it is going to reflect that negligence. The benefit of a Trex deck is that once you choose a color and build your deck, you are going to get the same look and appearance for years and years without staining or sealing.
This isn’t to say that pressure-treated decks can’t be beautiful. Some people choose a natural wood over composite decking material because the beauty of nature really comes out when that wood is stained and sealed. It requires more upkeep and elbow grease to keep a pressure-treated deck looking good than it does with a Trex deck, but many homeowners don’t mind the extra annual maintenance.
This means your financial cost for the periodic maintenance of your pressure-treated deck will be greater than with a Trex deck, but your upfront building cost is much more attractive. You shouldn’t forget that a Trex deck will change slightly in its color and shade the first 2 to 3 months after installation. This happens because the decking material has to get used to your environment, but the change is gradual in nature. After that, the color shouldn’t fade for several years, and even then only gradually.
The safety of your deck comes down to a number of factors. If people are acting irresponsible and running on a wet pool deck, they may fall and become injured. This is in most cases not the fault of the decking material, but rather the person who was injured. Pressure-treated yellow pine and Trex are rot and decay resistant for a number of years. This means the likelihood of someone stepping through your rotted deck floor or falling because a railing gave way is not likely to happen.
The yellow pine which is used for many pressure-treated decks has a natural texture which makes it resistant to slipping. You can choose Trex products with textured finishes that make them highly resistant to slipping as well. As far as all-around safety goes, a Trex deck is a much more hands-off maintenance choice than pressure-treated decking. With either choice, you are responsible for sweeping and cleaning your deck and keeping it free of debris which could act as safety hazards.
For general safety concerns, you will be happy with pressure-treated wood or Trex decking materials.
Trex decking materials are made up of 95% sawdust, recycled wood fibers and plastic materials. This keeps waste products out of landfills. It should also be noted that the Trex company has formed a partnership with the US Forest Stewardship Council. This guarantees your Trex deck was built with no materials that came from an endangered rain forest.
Caring for a PTP deck requires staining and/or painting every year or two. This means it is up to you to handle, store and dispose of these chemicals correctly so you don’t negatively impact the environment. Trex does not require a weather sealant or staining.
Comparing Trex vs pressure-treated pine reveals that a PTP deck that can last as long as a Trex deck but this can also mean that more yellow pine trees must be grown and harvested for you to replace individual decking materials like balusters and deck boards, or if you want to replace your entire deck. Most pressure-treated lumber is EPA approved, and both Trex and pressure-treated deck materials are environmentally friendly when disposed of properly.
To get a more accurate comparison of both for your application contact a seasoned pro for a no obligation quote.