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


Before deciding between Deckorators and Trex composite decking, let’s get to know them a little.  Who are they, and where did Trex and Deckorators 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.

TREX’S VISION

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

TrexOpens in a new tab.

The primary benefit of their decking is its long life and low maintenance compared to traditional wood decking.

A Brief History of Deckorators

Deckorators was started in 1998 in St. Louis, Missouri, not making decking but low maintenance aluminum railing for decks. In 2005 UFPI, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, acquired Deckorators which had their own line of composite decking under the name Latitudes. In 2012 the many deck accessories brands of UFPI were consolidated under the single name of Deckorators. I guess they must have had the better name.  In 2014 introducing their own new line of composite decking, moving away from their Latitude decking brand.

“To provide lifestyle-enhancing products that help homeowners personalize and accessorize a deck as an extension of the home.”

Deckorators

In 2016 the real game-changer happened with the unveiling of Deckorators Vault™ composite decking with Eovations™ technology. Changing composites forever by replacing organic fibres like wood with mineral-based composite decking.

Now we know them a little better and their story and where they came from, let’s compare what you will be installing on your deck.

Deckorators vs Trex – Materials and Capping

When comparing the material core and the cap of Deckorators and Trex composite decking, you have few differences. Both have their proprietary blend of recycled plastic and wood fibresOpens in a new tab.. Trex is the leader with 95% recycled material content.

Both Deckorators and Trex WPB decking is capped on three sides, top and the two visible sides. Deckorators go a little bit further by capping the groove on the edge of the board. Were Trex’s cap ends at the top of the groove.

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 Decking Lines Colour & Profiles

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

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

Deckorators [WBC] Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking Profile
VistaOpens in a new tab.4Solid
TrailheadOpens in a new tab.3Scalloped
TropicOpens in a new tab.2Scalloped
DistressOpens in a new tab.1Scalloped
Deckorators [WBC] Decking Lines Colours & Profile

Vista and Trailhead have s simple wood pattern, with slight contrasting colours. Similar in appearance with Trex’s Enhance lines.

Tropic has a little more distinct cathedral wood grain pattern, similar to Trex’s Select.

A very distinct composite decking is Deckorators “Distress” board. Only available in one colour but with embossed “tool marks.” These are more than paint colours. The wood is actually marked in manufacturing, creating a very distinct appearance and feel of the decking. Like a few years ago when all the rage was salvage barn wood. A throwback to a time when machining wasn’t as consistent.

Overall, I am not impressed with the appearance of Deckorators wood composite. I am sure they would argue with me, but it’s a very simple-looking, budget decking. But I am getting ahead of myself. We will compare prices later.

That being said, Sean from Premier Outdoor LivingOpens in a new tab., builds some amazing-looking decks in south Jersey and Philadelphia. I could say a lot of things about the Deckorators decks he builds but ugly and plain would not be included. You could spend the next week watching him build amazing-looking decks on YouTubeOpens in a new tab..

Either I am too hard on Deckorators, or he is using their mineral-based composite, which is a different decking entirely. Which we should look at now.

With Deckorators mineral-based decking, I feel that we are comparing an entirely different product. Or as Shane from the Ultimate Deck Shop says, it’s the difference between the earlier generations of composite decking and the now-standard cap composite decking.

The appearance and performance of mineral-based composite is an entirely different level of decking. Which is what I will struggle with for the next few minutes to compare Deckorators and Trex without only referencing to their mineral line. It’s that much different and better.

Voyage is Deckorators premium mineral-based composite but also included are Vault and Frontier. Picture frame is also made with mineral, but its’ purpose is much different.

Reasons to love mineral-based composite.

  • Voyage provides 34% or better surface traction than composite decking.
  • Enhanced textured embossing for better traction both when wet or dry
  • 35% lighter than traditional composites
  • Virtually no thermal expansion or contraction
  • Warrantied for installation in the ground or water 

As I was reminded while talking with the sale person this morning, colour makes all the difference when deciding on decking. Deckorators [MBC] offers 9 different colours.

Deckorators [MBC] Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking Profile
VoyageOpens in a new tab.5Solid
VaultOpens in a new tab.2Solid
FrontierOpens in a new tab.2Solid
Picture FrameOpens in a new tab.1Solid
Deckorators [MBC] Decking Colours & Profile

Plus, a dark Picture frame board, that is 21′ long. Ideal for those 20′ wide decks. I hate butt joints on composite decksOpens in a new tab.. What is more frustrating is building a 20′ wide decking using long planks to avoid butt joints, only to be forced to butt joint the front board because its not long enough to include the picture frame edges. Well, Deckorators removes this aggravation. Unfortunately, you are limit to one colour, black, but it’s a start. 

Voyage is textured for traction, its gripping feature. Straight-line texture with some dark streaks adding to the depth of colour. Think birch wood texture, except black lines.  

Vault decking is designed with a flat grain variegation. A very subtle cathedral wood pattern. Reminds me of oak plywood.

Frontier is described as a classic, traditional look. Nothing eye-catching about the design, simply decking to set up your outdoor living space on.

Deckorators vs Trex – Durability

Decks are built to be enjoyed, not just to be seen. You want decking that is durable, wearing well under constant foot traffic, the occasional pulling of chairs and spilling of ketchup, grease and beer 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 on both holds up equally. Make sure to wipe it up and give it a quick scrub, and you won’t have a problem.

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
Deckorators (MBC)Opens in a new tab.3.1 Kn
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.3.8 Kn
Deckorators (WPC)Opens in a new tab.10 Kn
Trex Vs Deckorators Hardness Rating

Deckorators’ MBC is the softest, with Trex Transcend being slightly better. The amazing one is Deckorators’ wood plastic composite, over twice as hard as Trex.

The more likely decking damage are scratches. From chairs, to dragging feet, they all can leave a mark. It’s hard to give a number to it, but Trex Transcend has a more durable cap in most situations. Resisting scratching better than most, including Deckorators.

Unfortunately, with Trex, they have multiple lines, Good, Better and Best. Transcend is their “Best,” including resisting scratches. The Enhance and Select line don’t hold up as well.

 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 rating @ 50°CLbs per sqft@50°C
Deckorators (WPC)3.03681
Trex Transcend3.88872
Deckorators (MBC)4.781075
Trex Vs Deckorators Concentrated Load

Deckorators [MBC] is the best and the worst for concentrated load failure. Their wood composite version, failing before Trex Transcend, but the minerals really do form a stronger fibre adding almost 200 lbs of strength. Making Deckorators (MBC) the most robust decking between the three under pressure.

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)
Deckorators (MBC)Opens in a new tab.2 466 MPa
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.2 980 MPa
Deckorators (WPC)Opens in a new tab.3 418 MPa
Trex Vs Deckorators Defom Rating

We have the opposite results when comparing deformity of concentrated load failure. It will take less to deform Deckorators (MBC) than the other.

But Deckorators’ wood composite line holds up against becoming deformed than the other two.

Trex again is the middle of the road. Trex is not the strongest board nor the weakest. Just a good durable decking.

In my opinion, Deckorators wood plastic composite is the most durable decking against wear and tear. It is harder and will take more to deform the decking than Trex. Only weaker than Trex in how much weight it can hold. But this is less than two hundred pounds and will rarely impact the life of your deck. Rocks and deforming under chairs are more likely than breaking.

The one thing that Trex is more durable than Deckorators is not being scratch. Which you will need to evaluate, often this will destroy the appearance of your deck more than anything else. Scratches aren’t a big thing, but they do destroy the pristine look of a deck. 

Deckorators vs Trex- Workability

For workability, when comparing the two’s wood composite lines, there is little difference. Both cut and screw similar to wood. Except in the lack of structural strength, if you can do it with wood, chances are you can with composite.

Deckorators mineral-based composite [MBC] is a slightly different story. Not significantly, but they are a little harder to cut. The saw blade heats up faster, and the “sawdust” tents to gum up the saw. Not impossible to work with, but expect a little more challenge when cutting, especially ripping the last decking board down beside the house.

Using a saw blade with less teeth, a framing blade instead of a finishing blade can help move the material out, reducing gumming. Especially true on a mitre saw.

Also, the cut edges may need a little more file time to remove the rough edges. The polymer cap cuts a little rougher than others.

Between the two, Trex is designed for the DIYer. Making working with it easy and straightforward. If you go with Deckorators, it will take a few more tricks to get it right. Beautiful decking in the end, but it will take a little more skill on your part to install.

Deckorators vs Trex-Expansion and Contraction

If you have ever worked with composite, especially PVC, you know that one of the challenges is designing for expansion and contraction. Providing enough gap that the boards can grow when the sun comes out but keeping them small enough that the dog won’t fall through it in the cool of the day. Which by the way, composite decking is great for dogsOpens in a new tab..

Then theirs the classic debate, mitre or butt joints for picture frames. Which is the better design, to deal with moving decking.

“Deckorators’ MBC is a game-changer when it comes to expansion and contraction.”

Deckorators mineral-based composite changes all this. With minimal, close to non-existence movement in the sun, you are free to design with ease. Mitres, woven, whatever will make the decking pop. No need to consider what temperature you are installing at or what will happen when the sun goes down. Cut and create with ease.

Deckorators vs Trex-Contact with Water or Ground

Water absorption of decking doesn’t matter with most decking applications. As long as your boards are gapped, with proper under deck ventilationOpens in a new tab. the rain will run off, and you are good to go.

But if you are building a dock, a low deck around a pool or just a deck low to the ground, water absorption will mean the world to you. Or at least the difference between deck failure and deck enjoyment.

Composite Decking%mass Water Absorption after 24 hours
Deckorators(MPC) Voyage, Vault, FrontierOpens in a new tab.<0.05%
Deckorators (WPC)Opens in a new tab. Vista, TrailHead<0.28%
TrexOpens in a new tab.<0.5%
Trex Vs Deckorators Absorption

When I was first gathering the absorption rate, I saw Trex’s was 0.5% and not thinking about is looked at Deckorators [MBC] as was like owe, five again.

WAIT!

Deckorators [MBC] with Eovations™ technology are not the same as Trex, it’s 0.05%. That is one-tenth the amount of water. That is the difference between being drenched and your shirt getting a little wet. That is not close. That’s a whole different level. 

On top of limited water absorption, Deckorators [MBC] has no organic matter. Unlike Trex, even if it gets wet, there is nothing for mould and fungi to grow on.

Yes, the wood fibres are combined with plastic to protect them against rot but it’s still wood. If wood sits in water, it will rot, period. But with Deckorators [MBC], this is not an issue.

You can build your deck on the groundOpens in a new tab., in water or even under the ground if you must, but it will not rot. Deckorators absorb so little water, and whatever water it absorbs doesn’t matter because there is nothing to rot.

Deckorators vs Trex – 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 cost of Deckorators and Trex. At least in comparison to each other.

Deckorators Decking LineLineal Price
Voyage [MBC]$5.50
Vault [MBC]$5.00
Frontier [MBC]$4.60
Vista$4.50
Trailhead$2.50
Tropics/Distress$2.25
Deckorators Lineal Price

Just within Deckorators lines, there is a wide range of prices. All the mineral-based composites being the top of the price range. Both Tropic and Distress sold through Lowes are the lowest price. I imagine it’s a thing about quantity. Trailhead is just slightly more, but with more colour options and buying options.

Trex Decking LinesLineal Price
Transcend$4.70
Select$2.90
Enhance Natural$2.90
Enhance Basics$1.83
Trex Lineal Price

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

Comparing cost Decorators and Trex as a whole, Trex is the economical one. With the lowest-priced decking of Enhance Basics. Designed to put pressure on pressure-treated decking. Drawing very close in price and lower than all Deckorators’ decking.

If we set aside Deckorators mineral-based composites since they are a class to themselves, the price distinction between the two is less distinct. Vista and Transcend are only a few cents apart. With a larger deck, this will only be a few hundred more.

Except for Enhance Basic which was design for price, Deckorators budget lines are actually a little less than Trex’s. Making it a much tighter competition.

In short, Trex and Deckorators are priced very similar. You would be much better choosing between the two on colour and other features. But the small price difference quickly disappears when you remember it will be stretched over 25-years or more.

Deckorators vs Trex-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 standard for traction is 0.5, providing enough grip to keep you on your feet. Almost all decking becomes more slippery when wet. Trex’s and Deckorators are no exception.

 Slip Resistance (Dry)Slip Resistance (Wet)
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.0.43-0.520.32-0.39
Deckorators (WPC)Opens in a new tab.0.5+0.46-0.48
Deckorators (MBC)Opens in a new tab.0.73-0.740.66-0.69
Trex Vs Deckorators Traction

The exception is the level of traction they start at. Deckorators just has more grip. Both their wood composite decking but even more with their mineral-based decking. Deckorators MBC is less slippery than most other composite deckingOpens in a new tab.. It will give you grip like few other boards will.

Compared to Trex, the difference is significant. In the rain, you are half as likely to slip on Deckorators’ MBC decking than Trex. The difference is less when the decking is dry but still significant.

For traction, both when the decking is dry or wet, Deckorators is better.

Deckorators vs Trex – Warranty

The first 25-years of both Trex and Deckorators, regardless of the decking line, the warranty is almost the same. Including the industry standard of limited fading to less than five (5) Delta E (CIE), with a small difference. Trex for the life of the warranty and Deckorators pro-rated after five years.

Structurally, both Trex and Deckorators wood-based composite are alike, 25-years pro-rated. Trex diminishing after 10 years and Deckorators after 5. The big difference is with Deckorators mineral-based composite (MBC) with a 50-year structural warranty. Competing with Azek’s PVC decking 100% for the first 5 years and then pro-rated after that.

The most significant difference is Deckorators labour warranty. I have built enough decks to tell you that a significant part of the deck’s cost is labour. Almost with every other composite deckingOpens in a new tab., if they fail it’s on you to pay the labour to replace it. This can easily cost as much as the decking itself. But except for the lines stocked by Lowes, Distressed and Tropics line Deckorators’ warranty covers the labour material cost. That is putting their money where their mouth is. If their decking fails its no money out of your pocket, they will cover all expenses.

Yes, the warranty is pro-rated, but that is still promising a lot. Install it like they say, and they have you covered.

If comparing warranty for warranty, Deckorators beats Trex with labour and structural.

Deckorators vs Trex – 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!

If you’re deciding between Deckorators and Trex’s wood composite decking. Honestly, I think it will come down to colour. With matching warranty except for Deckorators including Labour. Which is a plus if you plan to use it. But for me, warranties are not about replacement but the peace of mind that I won’t have to.

As wood composite decking, there is little differentiating between the two. A wins and loses between the two regarding durability. Deckorators is a little stronger, but Trex is harder. The difference are little, if any.

Prices are similar. Trex’s Basic’s line is cheaper but is limited in colour. Deckorators most economical lines are only sold at Lowes. At the top end, the difference in price between Transcend and Vista is not really worth contemplating when considering that the deck will last you 25 years or more.

Pick the look and colour you enjoy.

Now, if you’re ready for something different.

Deckorators mineral-based composite decking is in a league of its own. With a price and performance similar to PVC decking it’s not really fair to compare with Trex or any other wood composites.

But if you are. Deckorators Mineral-Based Composites, of which Voyage is the premier are a solid pick. Stronger, more durable, better traction, minimal expansion and contraction and a warranty to match its quality.

Yes, you are going to pay for that quality. Voyage, Vault, and Frontier are easily twice the price of entry-level composite decking. It will last twice as long, while looking many times better. 

Now it’s your call, will it be colour or performance.

Ryan Nickel

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

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