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


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

MoistureShield has 18 colours vs Trex’s 20. Trex decking is stronger against breaking and deforming underweight and is priced lower than MoistureShield decking. MoistureShield’s most remarkable features are resistance to moisture and cooler deck boards, with superior tractionOpens in a new tab.. MoistureShield also has a longer warranty than Trex.

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

Starting with an introduction to the companies, getting to know MoistureShield 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.”

TrexOpens in a new tab.

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 MoistureShield

MoistureShield started as Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies in 1988. Pioneering using recycled polyethylene plastic for manufacturing composite building material. Long before all the excitement of composite decking, they innovated uses for recycled material in construction.

Which is still a big part of who they are and what they do. Today MoistureShield decking is made from 95% recycled content, of which 25% is post-consumer.

In 2017 they were bought out by Oldcastle APGOpens in a new tab., a much older company started in 1932, operating in over 30 countries worldwide.

In 2019 they changed their name to the decking brand we recognize, MoistureShield.

MoistureShield is Headquartered in Springdale, Arizona, where it also manufactures its decking lines. Which recently, in 2020, it underwent a massive expansion to keep up with the demand for its composite decking.

What distinction MoistureShield from Trex and all composite decking is the composition and cap of their decking. Their solid core engineering and cooler deck technology.

Trex vs MoistureShield – Materials and Capping

As already noted, both companies have a focus on using recycled content in their composite decking. Both Trex and MoistureShield manufacture their decking with a 95% blend of recycled plastic and wood fibresOpens in a new tab.. But this may be where their similarity in material and capping ends.

Trex, one of the first innovators of composite decking and an early adapter of capping, is the standard we look for when thinking about composite decking and cap.

Same with the core of composite deckingOpens in a new tab.. Trex’s decking is a 50/50 plastic and wood fibres blend extruded into decking. Which, when comparing composite, is what we all refer to. Is the blend and composer the same as Trex? How does it differ? What’s its performance compared to Trex?

This very article is part of a  group of articles comparing Trex composite with other brands.

When comparing Trex and MoistureShield, this is the single biggest difference, where we will spend the most time and will make the biggest difference between if you build a MoistureShield deck or Trex.

Decking Material Core Difference Between Trex and MoistureShield

Yes, as we started, they are both made from 95% recycled plastic and wood fibres but how MoistureShield goes about doing this is different. Distinctly different in use and performance.

“MoistureShield composite decking products outperform and outclass your run-of-the-mill composite, maintenance-heavy wood or plastic-like PVC”

OldCastleOpens in a new tab.

Let’s start by comparing the core material. I am not a chemist; I am a carpenter, so please forgive me if I am a little off on some of the technical information.

But as I understand it, Trex decking core plastic and wood fibres blended together using heat and then extruded into decking.

Think of it like making patties for grilling on your deck. You mix together the ground beef, onions, breadcrumbs and some spices, pressing them into patties and frying them on the grill. Great grilling and eating on the deckOpens in a new tab..

But all through the process, and even after, you can take the patty and pull it apart. Like my son does, separating the onions from the beef. Even after being cooked, every individual part is still separatable. Cooking them does pull them together, but they can still be separated.

The same is true with Trex decking. An amazing blend of materials brought together with heat. It is especially noticeable with the earlier versions but still is true with current composite decking under the cap. You can still separate the wood from the plastic. Not an easy task, but the parts are still separate. This is the single largest reason for capping composite decking. Protection of the core material.

Encapsulated Wood Fibres is the MoistureShield Difference

Somehow, and they will never tell how MoistureShield is able to encapsulate the wood fibres in the process of blending them together.

As the video shows, each individual wood fibre is wrapped, encapsulated with plastic. You can no longer separate the wood from the plastic. The two have become one. The plastic securely cocooning the wood, preventing any moisture from damaging the wood.

M&M picture

Think M&M melts in your mouth, not your hands. The chocolate is encapsulated in a hard candy shell protecting the chocolate. It’s still distinct but cannot be easily separated.

The same with the wood fibres with MoistureShield decking. That wood is encapsulated in plastic preventing damage from moisture.

 “With a proven history of 30 years with no structural field failures”

Tim Ortman, President, Oldcastle APG

The proof is in the pudding. MoistureShield process has prevented product failure for over thirty years and is warrantied for 50. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Difference in Cap Between Trex and MoistureShield

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.

I am a big fan of capping composite for what it does for protection and looks.

Similar to MoistureShield’s encapsulating the wood fibres of the decking core but the whole board. The polymer wraps around the decking, preventing water from getting into the material damaging the decking.

Three out of four MoistureShield’s decking lines are the same. The decking is capped, providing an extra level of protection and improving the appearance of the decking. But as Vantage™ proves, an uncapped option. Their decking does not need the added protection against moisture. It is strictly for looks.

Except for Vision® and Meridian™ decking lines. They have used the cap to do more than just make great-looking decking.

A common complaint of composite decking is heat. Composite decking can become extremely hot to walk onOpens in a new tab.. MoistureShield has designed a cap that is cooler to the touch.

“CoolDeck® Technology, Helps create more comfortable outdoor living environments by reducing heat by up to 35%”

Five of MoistureShield’s deck boards are capped with CoolDeck® Technology. Allowing you to enjoy your deck more in the sun. By reducing the heat of the decking. 

With MoistureShield Vision® they have gone one step further with the cap with DaimondDefense coating.

DiamondDefense™ Coating. Creates the strongest composite cap in the industry to resist damage from scratches, stains and fading.

Similar to Trex’s Transcend line, which has their best capping to reduce scratching, fading and staining. Both premium boards with their best capping.

If your deck is at risk from extreme sun or water, this may be the end of our comparison. The other comparisons will feel trivial in light of how the decking handles water and the sun.

MoistureShield decking is light years ahead of Trex for protection against water. If you are building a deck in the water, close to water or just a high moisture area, you should seriously consider MoistureShield.

The added benefits of CoolDeck® Technology is a real plus for a deck that gets a lot of sun. If your deck is a high sun area, this might be a real plus. Helping to reduce the burn of bare feet on the deck. Making your deck that much more enjoyable even on hot sunny days. Increasing the enjoyment of the deck all year long.

Now all that said if you are building a deck in a climate like Calgary, where I build decks. A more cool climate than hot, more dry than wet, then we should look further. Are there other advantages to using MoistureShield over Trex other than durability against water and cooler than in the sun?

Trex vs MoistureShield 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. MoistureShield caps 4 and 3 sides and even has an uncapped decking which in is almost unheard of now.

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.

MoistureShield Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking ProfileCapped Sides
VisOpens in a new tab.ion®6Solid4
Meridian™Opens in a new tab.3Solid4
Elevate™Opens in a new tab.4Scalloped3
Vantage™Opens in a new tab. 5SolidUncapped

With 18 decking options, MoistureShield has almost as many options as Trex.

MoistureShield has a very unusual way of texturing their decking. This is more pronounce with their Vision and Vantage lines, with grooves and patterns that in some ways more resembles tree bark than cut wood.

Meridian is different than the other lines. They call it TruTexture™ Surface, which has a more wood-grain finish with an increased level of colour variegation than their other boards. This one makes me think more of birch boards than the other decking lines.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

This rings true with decking as much as art. Trex and MoistureShield boards have a distinctly different look and feel. Ultimately this might be what wins you to one company over the other.

Trex vs MoistureShield – 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 on both holds up equally. Make sure to wipe it up and give it a quick scrub, and you won’t have a problem. Vantage might be the exception to this being more receptive to staining than the cap options.

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
MoistureShield® VantageOpens in a new tab.4.7 Kn

For comparing hardness between Trex and MoistureShield, we will not talk about the entire brand and lines but focus on their premium line Transcend and Vantage.

Vantage is a harder board, but not by much. When you get a rock on your shoe, it will take more pressure to indent the decking on a Vantage deck. For most people, the indents will be little, if any.

The more likely decking damage is scratches. From chairs to dragging feet, they all can leave a mark. It’s hard to give a number to it.  Trex Transcend has a durable cap, but Vision has a Diamond Defense cap protecting it against scratches.  

An interesting twist MoistureShield Vantage is “self-healing.” With small scratches disappearing on the decking surface. The decking may get scratched, but overtime becoming less noticeable than capped composite decking.

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
MoistureShield® VantageOpens in a new tab.3.02679
Trex [TranscendOpens in a new tab.]3.88872
Ultimate Concentrated Load (failure) at 50°c

Trex’s Transcend wood composite is the best for concentrated load failure. Holding 200 lbs more than Vantage before crushing under the weight. That is 25% more weight that Trex can hold than MoistureShield.

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) 
Vision®Opens in a new tab.1 806 MPa262 000 lb
Vantage™Opens in a new tab.1 806 MPa262 000 lb
Elevate™Opens in a new tab.2 613 MPa379 000 lb
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.2 980 MPa432 212 lb

Regardless of which MoistureShield decking compared to Transcend will resist being deformed more. Depending on which line by how much but less likely to be deformed than all of them.

In all three of our durability tests, Trex wins. With the exception of moisture, Trex is the more durable decking of the two.

Trex vs MoistureShield – 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 MoistureShield and Trex decking. At least in comparison to each other.

MoistureShield Decking LinesLineal Price
Vision with CoolDeck®$7.45 – $8.30
Vision$6.85 – $7.30
Vantage$4.95 – $5.50
Elevate$4.50 – $5.15

Yes, that wonderful cap, with CoolDeck® Technology and DiamondDefense™ Coating, will cost you. Vision is the most expensive of MoistureShield’s decking boards.

Airconditioning will cost you when buying a new car, and so will CoolDeck®.

As we will soon see Elevate, MoistureShield’s “Great Value” decking is more expensive than Trex’s premium line. Making it very clear that MoistureShield may be great, but it is costly to buy.

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. Till reaching Enhance Basics, one of the lowest price composites deckingsOpens in a new tab. with a 25-year warranty.

If you are choosing strictly on price, Trex easily wins. With all their boards costing less than $5 a lineal foot, even their premium line. But we don’t all drive Fords. Sometimes a Cadillac is a better fit regardless of price.

Trex vs MoistureShield – 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)
Vision®Opens in a new tab.0.830.77
Vantage™Opens in a new tab.0.79 0.81
Elevate™Opens in a new tab.0.77 0.71
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.0.43-0.520.32-0.39

Kind of like price, all of MoistureShield’s decking is nowhere close to Trex’s. Even their more economical line Elevate has significantly more traction than Trex’s Transcend. It only goes up from there.

That distinct texturing on their decking pays off in spades for traction.

The high level of traction maybe because of MoistureShield’s focus on decking to be used close or in water. You do not want to be stepping out of the pool and slipping. MoistureShield prevents this from happening with their excellent traction.

If you need grip, MoistureShield is for you.

Trex vs MoistureShield – Warranty

MoistureShield has one of the longest structural warranties in the industry. With an almost unheard of 50-years. Only Fiberon’s Concordia and Azek’s PVC decking are equal in length.

Trex only warranties for 25-years. A universal 25 years on all their decking line from Transcend to Enhance Basic. It doesn’t matter what you pay for it. It is covered for 25-years.

Differing from Trex, MoistureShield separates structural from appearance. Each decking line has a different fade and stain warranty.

 Length of Fade and Stain Residential Warranty
Vantage™N.A. Designed to fade like wood.
Elevate™30-year
Meridian™40-year
Vision®50-year

It should be noted that Vantage is not warrantied against fading at all. In fact, they promise that they will fade. The colour in the store and first installed on your deck will not be Vantage’s colour by spring. It will fade and change in colour considerably.

There are two other distinct warranty differences between Trex and MoistureShield to mention.

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.

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 of what differs the companies. Simply put, the better the company, the more training and experienced the installer, the longer the warranty.

A small difference but something to be aware of. As a deck contractor, I like the idea of offering a 5-year warranty but actually support Trex’s approach more. 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.

On the other hand, MoistureShield clearly excludes the cost of labour.

“This Structural Warranty covers MoistureShield composite decking replacement components only, and does not cover installation or replacement labor or any additional costs which might be incurred”

MoistureShield WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

This may be a mute point as MoistureShield has never had a structural failure in the field. If the decking doesn’t break, it’s irrelevant if they will pay for the labour. Because their will be no labour cost to pay for.

That being said, if they are so confident that their decking will never break, they could have promised to cover labour for the entire life of the decking. The Whole 50 years but they didn’t.

Limited Residential Warranty

It’s always interesting what a company will exclude from a warranty. MoistureShield has 18 exclusions in their warranty.

MoistureShield Specifically mentions warranty against food stains from residential use. Going as far as to list condiments you may use while grilling and eating on your deck that will not stain the decking except Vantage. Vantage missing a protective cap has the potential to get stained. It’s on you to quickly clean off anything that spills because it is not covered. 

Verbal Statements. I know myself sometimes when I get into the heat of things, I promise too much. Moisture Shield will not be bitten again by overly talkative sales reps.

“Such statements are not warranties. This writing embodies the entire limited warranty of MoistureShield®”

MoistureShield WarrantyOpens in a new tab.

Everything thing said or promised is irrelevant. MoistureShield will only warranty and cover what the warranty says. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. Just the written warranty.

Trex vs MoistureShield – 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 MoistureShield for

  • Number of colours
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Traction
  • Warranty

Just on these, it’s a toss-up.

Trex has more colours, more durable and is sold at a better price.

MoistureShield provides better traction and warranty.

Water is the deciding factor.

But if we are talking about a dock, poolside or high rain area, MoistureShield is specifically designed for it. The core and cap can withstand water better than almost any other composite decking, including Trex. It will not matter how wet it gets. MoistureShield can handle it better than Trex.

But if moisture is not an issue for your deck. Why buy a decking with moisture in its name? Trex is a good quality decking at a much better price point.

Ryan Nickel

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

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