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


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

  • Envision has 17 rich colours vs Trex’s 20 standard ones.  
  • Envision is denser, manufacture by compression rather than Trex extruded decking.
  • Trex backs their decking with a more comprehensive warranty than Envision.

But we should go into the details a little more to determine whether Envision or Trex decking is right for you.

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

A Brief History of Trex

Headquartered in Winchester, Virginia, Trex hails as the world’s largest composite decking and railing manufacture. 

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.

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

Trex

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 decking is manufactured from 95% recycled content.

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

A Brief History of Envision

Envision was not started as a composite decking company but grew out of Tamko Building Products, a roofing product manufacturing company. Making it very distinct from Trex’s history, which was created and developed as a composite decking company.

Here are a few key milestones of Envision history.

  • 1999 started by EPOCH Composite Products, a subsidiary of Tamko Building products. With a simple vision to make composite decking differently. Which we will discuss more when comparing material. The initial launch is EverGreen decking which is the base of all their decking lines.
  • 2011, Introduce Envision line, premium capped composite decking. This has further developed into four decking lines. These are their high-end decking with as they describe as “high-end, luxury decking featuring unmatched beauty with dramatic colour and bold highlights in each deck board.” This says a lot, and I will develop more when discussing their cap.
  • 2019 the company became Envision Building Products LLC.

Trex vs Envision– Materials and Capping

Both companies include a blend of recycled plastic and wood fibresOpens in a new tab. in their composite decking.

Trex is very enthusiastic about this fact, boldly claiming that all their decking is made from 95% recycled material. Removing tonnes of waste from landfills while reducing energy consumption during manufacturing. 

Envision, not so much. They do use recycled material but are not nearly as bold in sharing. It may be a lot. It may be a little. Your guess is as good as mine about percentage.

If I would take a guess, the key difference is Trex using recycled material as a way to be environmentally friendly. It is part of their vision and goal. Envision uses recycled material for cost reduction. This helps Trex also by reducing material cost and energy required in manufacturing, but they are doing it primarly because they are trying to help the planet and homeowners. Not just to save a few bucks.

Decking Material Core Difference Between Trex and Envision

How Envision decking is manufactured separates it from all other composite deckings. Which was Envisions vision, “creating a composite decking product unlike any other.” Starting right at the core of the decking.

Where Trex and almost all other composite decking is manufacture by extrusion. The material is mixed and pushed through a mould forming the decking planks. Similar to how sausages are made but with a lot more chemistry and science involved.

Envision decking is unique in its Compress Technology™. The decking material is not push through a form but compressed into deck planks. Back to our cooking analogy, they form their decking like hamburger patties, not sausages. The idea is to create denser boards by squeezing out the air and compressing the material.

Roughly starting with the same material but treating it very differently.

Difference in Cap Between Trex and Envision

Like almost all composite decking companies, Trex uses the decking cap to protect the decking core and improve its appearance. Which has done wonders in improving the performance of composite decking while reducing mould and mildew. In fact, the aesthetic improvement alone is worth the extra cost.

Here may be what distinguish Envision and Trex even more. How they view and use capping on their deck.

Trex added caped to help protect their decking. Earlier generations, like many other companies, had some flaws, especially in regards to moisture. The cap was added to remedy this. The cap protecting the core of the decking from rain and minimizing damage from wear. The added beauty was a plus. They were like. We are adding all this cost and work. What can we do to enhance it?

Not privy to the inner decision-making of Envision, but it seems that they have added a cap for the aesthetic improvement more than protection. Yes, the decking’s durability is increased with the cap material, but they have focussed a lot more on how the cap looks than protects.

Proving this is the fact that Envision still sells an un-capped board, EverGreen. Where Trex has discontinued all their un-capped lines due to performance issues.

The way I see it.

Trex put on a coat because it was raining outside, and didn’t want to get wet.

Envision put on a coat because it was fashionable.

That is not to say that Trex, especially their Transcend line, are ugly. They just went about it for different reasons.

Envision using the acronym “TRUE” beauty to describe their decking.

  • True colors – Unique color variations give Envision decking a natural wood look.
  • Random grain patterns – Grain patterns do not repeat on any given board.
  • Unique grain beauty – Grain patterns on Envision decking are compressed into the board instead of being embossed on top.
  • Exclusive compression molding – Each piece is designed using very high pressure and heat to produce the composite decking.

The rich colour variation, along with the no-repeat deep embossed cap, do set them apart. It is distinctly different in appearance than Trex.

Trex vs Envision Decking Options

When it comes to the cap coverage, we have some variation. Trex consistently caps its decking on three sides, with the groove cut in. Envision does both capped and un-capped.

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.

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.”

TrexOpens in a new tab.

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.

Envision Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking Profile
DistinctionOpens in a new tab.4Solid
InspirationOpens in a new tab.3Solid
ExpressionOpens in a new tab.4Solid
Ridge PremiumOpens in a new tab.3Scalloped
EvergrainOpens in a new tab.3Solid

In total, Envision has 17 decking colours and finish. Grouped in five lines of decking, four capped, one not. But all are built on the same EverGrain composite core.

Distinction, is their premium line with four hues, with rich and bold streaking. With so much variation that a board can appear a different colour beside another of the same line. Or even from one end of the board to the other with no-repeat patterning.

“Designed to emulate the textures and natural color variations found in exotic wood”

Distinction Collection

Inspiration, has much softer colour variation, giving the appearance of faded decking from back on the farm.

“Softly blended hues … the appearance of reclaimed wood aged to perfection.”

Inspiration Collection

Expression, is the opposite of Distinction. Where Distinction has a great deal of colour variations with a blend of dark and light planks. Expression has consistent colouring within and between board.

“Featuring a range of striking, solid colors”

Expression Collection

Ridge Premium has similar but not matching colouring of the Inspiration collection. A blend of much softer and subtle colour changes. The largest difference is not what is seen on the top of the board but the bottom. The bottom has three flutes along the centre of the board to reduce weight and cost.

“Softly blended colors combine with a fluted profile board”

Ridge Premium

EverGrain the base for all their decking, is still sold as an uncapped option, with three traditional decking colours red, brown and grey.  Designed much more to resemble natural wood, plan for fading in the sun. With the boards transforming from a darker, more pronounced colour in the store to a lighter colour on your deck.

“deep-grain and solid color options. Featuring timeless textures and a pronounced pattern”

One distinct between Envision and Trex is how they present their decking.

Trex groups their decking into Collections based on price point, Good, Better and Best.

Envision also has collections but also groups them based on colour. Even with a decision making tool encouraging you to choose decking based on four prominent colours Blonde, Brown, Grey and Red. Then once selecting your favourite colour, narrow down your selection by the variation and shading between lines. From solid colours of Expressions to large variations with Distinction along with options in between.

Now that we see the options in appearance let’s turn to durability. How well will the decking perform on your deck?

Trex vs Envision – Durability

Decks are built to be enjoyed, not just to be seen. Durable decking is valuable decking. Decking that wears 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 makes clean-up easy if done immediately after. With little chance of staining, the one exception is EverGrain. EverGrain a non-capped composite, can soak up spills similar to natural wood and stain. This will be less than most wood decking, but it has the potential, without the option of re-staining.

Hardness of Decking

How much weight can the decking support?

Can you have a large table sitting on the deck without the feet pushing into the decking?

How hard the decking is will answer these questions.

 Hardness Test
EverGrainOpens in a new tab.2408 Lbs
Trex [TranscendOpens in a new tab.]854 Lbs

Envisions compression, not extraction methods, pays off here. EverGrain, the core of all their decking, is multiple times harder than Trex. Almost three times harder. It is one hard deck board.

In comparison, Ipe, the most durable wood decking, has a Janka Hardness of 3 510 lbfOpens in a new tab.. Putting EverGrain closer to Ipe in hardness than Trex.

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).

 Compression Strength
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.142 427 psi
EverGrainOpens in a new tab.6 642 psi

Interesting EverGrain is harder than Trex but is not as rigid.  In fact, nowhere close. Trex is many multiple times more rigid and less likely to become deformed than EverGrain.

Trex vs Envision – 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 MoistureShield are no exception.

 Slip Resistance (Dry)Slip Resistance (Wet)
EverGrainOpens in a new tab.0.610.67
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.0.43-0.520.32-0.39

Envisions EverGrain provides more grip than Trex Transcend, both wet and dry. With the added benefit that when you need the grip the most, in the rain. EverGrain increases in traction.

Unfortunately, this is not a complete and fair comparison because it does not include Envisions capped composites, which Transcend is. So, it is not really an apple to apple comparison.

But I could not find any impartial data on the traction provided by any of Envisions capped boards. They may be good; they may not be. But I have nothing to point to, one way or the other.

We can probably assume that with Envisions deep embossing that they will provide good traction. That is one thing that stands out with their decking is the depth of wood grain pattern on their boards.  

Trex vs Envision – Warranty

At first glance, Trex and Envision are tied when it comes to warranty. Both have a 25-year stain and structural warranty. Promising many years enjoying your deck with minimal maintenance.

Looking a little closer, there are a few differences. Some big, some may be entirely irrelevant.

I have read a lot of composite decking warranty, and I must say from the start. Trex warranty reflects more their long history focussed on composite decking. I can’t point at one thing in particular, but I get a sense that their warranty has developed from striving to support their customers while remaining in business. Including little precise wording and explanations of intent that comes from their experience.

Which ironically is no longer than Envision but being the leader in the industry attracts more attention.

Decking Fading

 Trex right upfront, barely into the warranty addresses fading. How much can you expect their decking to fade, and how much is too much.

“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.

A very technical definition but clearly stated. In case your wondering, 5 Delta colour difference is barely visible with the naked eye. If you left a mat on the deck for a couple of summers and then moved it, you could see the difference but without a side-by-side comparison. It’s all good.

Fading is glaringly missing from Envision’s warranty. Not promises of how little their decking will fade. Just missing. Except for a small line in exclusions. States that they are not responsible for fading. It may fade a little, it may change entirely, but you are not covered.

Pro-rated Decking Warranty

Trex and Envision’s warranties are both pro-rated. Meaning how much is covered decreases with time. You can not enjoy your deck for 25-years and get a brand-new deck from the warranty. Like cars, decking depreciation even low-maintenance composite decking.

The interesting difference is at what rate.

Trex covers you 100% for the first 10 years.

Envision covers only the first 5 years.

This makes the biggest difference at 11 years plus one day. Trex will pay for 80% of the material costs. Envision only 56%. That’s a big difference in spread.

Also, Trex’s pro-rating is easier to understand and calculate. After 10 years, the replacement values drops by 20% every three years.  For example, 80% at 11 years, 60% at 14 and so forth.

Envision is more precise, maybe too precise. Replacement value drops every month. It’s not a question of how many years, or as I like to think of it. Summers on the deck but how many months since purchasing. Making a difference in a claim between filing in April when the snow melts or September after noticing a problem while doing fall clean-up. Timing is critical.

With Envison, don’t get distracted. See the flaw, file the claim. Time is of the essence.

Labour Warranty

This is a new development in composite deckingOpens in a new tab. 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.

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

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

Trex goes into much more detail about what differs the companies. Simply put, the better the company, the more training and experienced the installer, the longer the warranty.

Envision takes a different approach. They offer labour warranty during what they call the first 5 years of the decking “Full Start Period.”

“Envision will provide the Owner the cost of replacement Envision products for those determined to be defective and the reasonable cost of their installation, according to the terms of this Limited Warranty.”

Envision WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

Not based on the contractor’s skill or volume of decking installed. Which is great for a smaller contractor or a one-off deck. Just because you don’t install Envision day in and day out doesn’t mean you don’t understand composite decking installation.

The challenge is, what is “reasonable”? Does that mean you have to get three or more quotes from contractors, or do they have a mysterious number that they pay out after you have hired a contractor? It could be great or not, it’s hard to tell.

But as I said at the beginning. Labour warranty is something new and is impressive either way. That a company will warranty not only their product but the work of the installer is impressive.

Class Action Waiver

This one surprises me coming from Envision, not Trex. Trex which has had to deal with class-action lawsuits. Which has not been easy on them. The biggest challenge is that a few thousand dollar decking claim can snowball into millions when a team of lawyers gather a few thousands homeowners. It is easier to throw your hat in the ring of a potential winning lawsuit than to pay for a lawyer for a single claim.

“individually and neither party will consolidate, or seek class treatment for any action unless previously agreed to in writing by both You and Envision.”

Envision WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

But no. Its not Trex but Envision that excludes any class action against them. If there is an unresolved issue, you can sue, but there will be no front page Article proclaiming a massive pending lawsuit. No blog talking bad about thousands of deck’s failing. With Envision, it will be just you and your lawyer quietly trying to resolve your decking failures.

I don’t mean to be rough on Envision, but as these examples show. Trex has a better composite decking warranty. Both are 25 years, but I think Trex covers you more by excluding less.

Trex vs Envision – 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!

Comparing Trex vs Envision for

  • Number of colours
  • Durability
  • Traction
  • Warranty

This is a hard one for me, without a clear winner.

Except maybe warranty where Trex includes more.

Both have pros and cons in the other categories.

For colour, decking options, Trex has more. With 20 boards compared to 17. From budget to beauty. They have an option that could work for you.

But as decking salespeople often remind me, the choice usually comes down to colour. A colour you like. Both offer the standard four hues, Grey, Brown, Red and Blonde but how they look is drastically difference.

Holding samples side by side will speak volumes. Envision’s decking colours are richer, deeper with greater variation and streaking. Grey is not grey. There can be so much more to grey decking. If richness and depth of colour matter to you. Take some time with Envision. It could be the best choice for your deck.

But if decking is decking. Grey is Grey. There is a reason that Trex is a leader in composite decking. They make good decking, at a reasonable price that could work for any backyard or front porch. A durable, low maintenance space to enjoy the great outdoors. With a warranty that has been through the wringer but still supports deck owners.

Ryan Nickel

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

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