Trex vs Armadillo, Which Composite Decking is Right for You?


When choosing between Trex and Armadillo composite decking, there are several things to consider. Things like available colours, durability, traction, warranty and price of the decking.

Armadillo has 10 colours vs Trex’s 20. Trex is more durable, taking more force to damage the decking than Armadillo. Warranties are of equal length, but Trex’s warranty tailor more for composite deckingOpens in a new tab.. Performance-wise, Trex has better tractionOpens in a new tab.. Price wise Trex has multiple price points, Armadillo does not.

We should into the details a little more to better understand Armadillo and Trex decking. Helping you decide which one is right for you.  

Starting with an introduction to the companies, getting to know Armadillo and Trex a little better.  Who are they, and where did they come from?

A Brief History of Trex

Trex was one of the first innovators of composite decking, inventing and manufacturing their first board in 1996. This single colour board was patent in 1998, and they have since developed four lines and 20 colours of decking. One of their original big pushes was to take material that was otherwise headed to the landfill and innovate a useful product. They are still a huge player in the recycling industry.

“To enhance the lives of people by engineering what’s next in outdoor living.”

TrexOpens in a new tab.

The primary benefit of their deckingOpens in a new tab. is its long life and low maintenance compared to traditional wood decking.

A Brief History of Armadillo

Avon Plastic the parent company of Armadillo was started in 1966 in Paynesville, MN. Manufacturing a variety of plastic products from boat bumpers to landscaping products. In 1984 they opened their first HDPE post-consumer recycling plant. Then in 1996, they introduced composite decking know as “The Deck Plank.” In 2010 they improved their decking offering with capped composite decking sold as Armadillo. In 2017 they started producing TurboClip Universal Fasteners, promising to reduce waste and installation time of composite decking.

One distinct difference between Trex and Armadillo is who they are as a company. Armadillo is a part of a much larger company, Avon plastic which decking is just one of many plastic products they produce. Trex is a deck company, started to make decking and still strongly focused on decks. They have expanded beyond decking with railing, pergolas and deck furniture, to name a few, but still, decks are their bread and butter. Where Armadillo is one of many products made by Avon PlasticOpens in a new tab..

Well, that’s who Trex and Armadillo are in a nutshell. Let’s turn to the actual decking.

Trex vs Armadillo – Materials and Capping

Both Trex and Armadillo decking is made from a blend of recycled wood and HDPE plastic protected by a polymer cap. Protecting the core from moisture and adding beauty to the appearance of the decking.

Trex has a greater focus on using recycled material. Containing 95% recycled materialOpens in a new tab. in every Trex deck board.

When it comes to the cap coverage, there are some variations. Trex consistently caps its decking on three sides, with the groove cut in.

Armadillo does both, fully capping Lifestyle decking on all four sides, including the groove. For their more budget-conscious decking, Essentials is only capped on 3 three sides. The Commercial composite decking line is still the older technology without any capping.

Trex Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking Profile
TranscendOpens in a new tab.8Solid
SelectOpens in a new tab.5Solid
Enhance NaturalOpens in a new tab.4Scalloped
Enhance BasicsOpens in a new tab.3Scalloped

Trex composite decking is simply arranged with Best [Transcend], Better [Select, Enhance Natural] and Good [Enhance Basic]. With the same core and capping, the main difference is the aesthetic appearance of the cap.

Trex end cuts

Transcend has a more natural-looking wood pattern with more distinct grains and distinct colouring. Also, the more durable and scratch-resistant of Trex’s decking.

Transcend decking’s deep wood-grain pattern and luxury colors create a premium, ageless look that leave other composites in the dust.”

Trex

Basics is precisely that. It has a more basic wood pattern, not ugly, but you know it’s a budget offering sitting beside Transcend. Basics is about getting a deck without all the maintenance, not about looks.

Armadillo Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking ProfileCapped Sides
LIFESTYLEOpens in a new tab.  7Scalloped4
ESSENTIAL COLLECTIONOpens in a new tab.2Scalloped3
COMMERCIALOpens in a new tab.1?Non-capped

Armadillo has a much smaller offering of decking colours with only 10, with only 9 available for residential application.

Unlike Trex’s premium lines, solid deck boards, all of Armadillo’s decking is scalloped to reduce costs. Similar to Trex’s Enhance line.

Trex vs Armadillo – Durability

Decks are built to be enjoyed, not just to be seen. Making durability of decking of great value. Decking that wears well under constant foot traffic, the occasional pulling of chairs and spilling of ketchup, grease or wine on the deck. Not that you intend to, but accidents happen. The decking must hold up against all life throws at or drops on it.

Decking Staining Comparison

For the accidental spills, the polymer cap makes all the difference. Still, as with all capped decking, make sure to wipe it up and give it a quick scrub, and you won’t have a problem.

But there is more to decking durability than resistance to staining. We will look over a few other tests comparing decking durability.

Which one will hold up better against the occasional rock in your shoes?

Comparing Decking Hardness

For that, we must ask which is rated the hardest. Which one is less likely to be indented by a rock on the sole of your shoes?

 Hardness Test
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.3.8 Kn
ArmadilloOpens in a new tab.8.1 Kn

Right out of the park, Armadillo is a harder board. When you get a rock on your shoe, it will take more than twice as much pressure to indent the decking on an Armadillo deck. For most people, the indents will be little, if any. It takes a lot of force to push a small pebble into Armadillo decking. 

The more likely decking damage is scratching. It is essential that the decking is not damaged from shuffling feet or dragging chairs. It’s hard to give a number for scratch resistance.

Important to note Trexdoes distinct between its own lines hailing Transcend has having a more durable cap than Select or Enhance.

With its limited decking lines, Armadillo caps all its decking equally except the commercial line that is not capped.

Decking Breakability

On the rare occasion, you will actually test the decking’s ability not to break. With both, it will take a lot of force to break the boards, especially when supported with joist at 16″ o.c., which is required.

But how much can you pack unto the deck before the boards break under the weight? How heavy of furniture is too much?

 Kn ratingLbs per sqft
ArmadilloOpens in a new tab.2.35528
Trex [TranscendOpens in a new tab.]3.88872

Trex’s wood composite is the best for concentrated load failure. Holding 200 lbs more than Armadillo before crushing under the weight. That is 60% more weight than Armadillo, a significant difference.

Making Trex Transcend a clear winner for compression strength. Making Trex less likely to break.

Decking Resistance to Becoming Deformed

How much pressure can the decking withstand before becoming deformed?

But to give us a number to compare, we will turn to Modulus of Elasticity (MOE).

 Modulus of Elasticity (MOE)
ArmadilloOpens in a new tab.1868 MPa
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.2 980 MPa

Here again, Trex is a stronger decking. Almost twice as much force is required to deform the decking.

Trex vs Armadillo – Traction

If your constantly getting rain showers followed by sun, the decking you choose is critical for how safe your deck will be. Water on any surface increases the risk of slips and falls. Decking is no exception. The polymer cap of the decking repelling the water, creating potential slipping hazards.

The CCMC looks for 0.5 ratings, enough grip to keep you on your feet. Also, almost all decking becomes slipperier when wet with less grip. Trex’s and Armadillo are no exception.

Slip Resistance (Dry)Slip Resistance (Wet)
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.0.43-0.520.32-0.39
ArmadilloOpens in a new tab.0.22-0.260.43-0.54

Both Trex and Armadillo have poor traction. The surprising one is Armadillo’s decking traction increased with moisture. A good thing because in the rain, you want traction more than any other time, but if you are slipping and slidingOpens in a new tab. in the sun when most of us enjoy our decks that is not much of a benefit.

Disappointingly none of the decking provides 0.5 of traction. In short, both brands are slippery, when wet and dry. Not good, not good at all.

That being said, Trex is the closest with the most traction. A slight variation between walking with the decking or against the grains. As with most decking, the pattern affects grip. Lower when walking with the grains as opposes to against the grains. The same is true with wood.

Trex vs Armadillo – Pricing

Pricing is always a tricky one, constantly changing from region to region, fluctuating with the season. In fact, just crossing the street at times can save you a few hundred on a deck. But this should give you a sense of the cost of Armadillo and Trex decking. At least in comparison to each other.

Armadillo Decking LineLineal Price
Lifestyle$2.90
Essentials$?

Before talking about pricing of Armadillo decking, there is a bigger issue about buying Armadillo decking. Availability. It is hard to find a store that sells Armadillo.

This is even more pronounced when comparing to Trex decking. Almost any store that sells decking will sell Trex. You can even buy Trex decking from places that don’t even specialize in decking. On top of that, both Lowes and Home Depot stock Trex decking. Meaning we have nationwide sources for Trex composite decking. It is easy to buy, while many retailers are competing on price, and if one store had a busy week and is few board shorts, you can easily find another retailer to pick up the few extra boards you need. Not the case with Armadillo decking.

Now about the price. Armadillo Lifestyle decking is priced in the middle of composite decking. A plus for Armadillo is Lifestyles is its a fully wrapped composite decking. Something that TimberTech does marketing itself as a higher-end decking, quality decking. Cap is expensive. Covering the entire board cost more, but Armadillo is not charging more for this additional protection.

Trex Decking LinesLineal Price
Transcend$4.15 – 4.50
Select$2.65 – 3.10
Enhance Natural$2.05 – 2.50
Enhance Basics$1.85 – $2.20

Trex’s premier line, Transcend, is under $5 a lineal foot, but the cost quickly drops from there. Enhance Basics is one of the lowest-priced composites decking with a 25-year warranty.

Trex Enhance Basics colours

Armadillo Lifestyle decking is competitively priced with Trex’s Select, Trex’s “Better” rated board. Trex’s “Best” [Transcend] board is more, but they also offer a more economical board [Enhance].

Unfortunately, that means with the price, there is little too distinct Lifestyle from Trex’s offering. It is not the moist economical board. It is not the best value. It is just another composite decking pricedOpens in a new tab. like all the other.

Sorry Armadillo, but Trex wins for pricing. You can spend a little. You can spend a lot. They having decking priced in all categories giving you options. On top of that, Trex prices their decking to be more affordable than competitive decking. Almost every time. If you compare Trex against the exact same quality board, it will cost less.

Armadillo has the advantage of a fully wrapped board, but I have yet to be convenient this additional cap is worth paying for. Nice to have but doesn’t make a board worth more. Especially if they have the same warranty which we will get to.

Trex vs Armadillo – Warranty

On the surface, there is little that differ between Trex and Armadillo decking warranty.

  • 25-years
  • Pro-rated replacement value

Both cover the first 10 years 100% after reducing the percentage by 20% every three years, except for the last three years dropping to 10% from 20% the previous three years. Almost exactly the same between the two.

How the warranties are written out, shows the focus of the companies and history.

Trex is an exclusively composite decking company. They offer complementary products, but they exist to create low maintenance products to enjoy the outdoors.

Armadillo is part of a march larger plastic manufacturer.

Because of this difference, Trex is very focused on its experience warrantying composite decking, with very specific examples and exclusions based on their experience. 

Armadillo’s warranty reflects Avon’s broader plastic experience. Being part of a much larger plastic manufacturing company, not just decking.

This difference is not a problem but is noticeable between the two.

Let’s look at some of those details of their warranty are a little bit different.

Labour Warranty

This is a new development in composite decking warranties. The labour to install decking is often as much or more than the cost for the material. Covering labour makes sure you are not on the hook for labour if the decking fails. Increasing the value of the warranty substantially.

“Subject to the terms and conditions herein, Armadillo shall be responsible for the labor, removal and replacement costs with contractors of Armadillo’s choosing for the first two (2) years of the warranty period.”

Armadillo Warranty

The length of warranty for labour differs between Trex and Armadillo. Trex will pay for labour up to five years, Armadillo only two.

Trex steps their warranty based on the contractor doing the work.

  • TrexPro 1 Year
  • TrexPro Gold 3 Years
  • TrexPro Platinum 5 Years

Trex contractor programs thoroughly explain what moves a contractor between levels. But simply put, the better the company, the more training and experienced the installer, the longer the warranty.

As a deck contractor, I like the idea of offering a 5-year warranty but support Trex’s approach. It just makes sense to have more faith in a more established company than one just starting out. A company with a good track record will do a better job, reducing the chances of failure and Trex’s liability.

Warranty Against Fading

All composite decking will fadeOpens in a new tab. over time in the sun. Both Trex and Armadillo note this in their warranties but warranty it differently.

Armadillo notes that fading will happen but gives no limit to what is acceptable and what is not. Just simple that discoloration will occur, and they will not replace the boards if they do.

Trex, on the other hand, provides a limit.

 “The Product shall not fade in color from light and weathering exposure as measured by color change of more than 5 Delta E (CIE) units.”

Trex WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

The reality is that capped decking is not likely to have significant levels of fading. But it is nice to have the reassurance from Trex that if by chance you get the lemon. That if your deck fades rapidly losing all the vibrant colours that you fell in love with, Trex will replace them.

Where, with Armadillo’s composite decking, they have no limit. It may not change at all in the sun, but if it does, in their warranty, that is not considered product failure but part of the risk of installing decking in the sun.

I like Trex’s reassurance and limits to fading.

Overall, I think Trex’s focus on composite decking has developed a better warranty.

Trex vs Armadillo – Which is Better for You?

Now for the hard part, choosing which decking will be right for you for the next 25 or more years. Wow, that’s a long time!

We have compared Trex and Armadillo for

  • Number of colours
  • Realistic wood grain
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Traction
  • Warranty

Trex wins!

In almost every category, Trex is the better composite decking. In total, Trex has more colour options, but even if we only compare Transcend and Armadillo. Trex as only one less option in one line as opposed to the entire Armadillo offering.

Trex is less likely to be indented, break, or become deformed. On top of all that, they provide better traction, more and better price points. All backed with a warranty better designed to support deck owners.

We all have our reasons for choosing the decking we do. But hopefully, you have better reasons now for choosing yours.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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