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


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

UltraDeck has 15 colours vs Trex’s 20. Both composite deckingsOpens in a new tab. are priced similarly, but Trex has a slight edge for strength. For Warranty Trex’s labour warranty is superior.

The difference between the two deckings is often marginal. Meaning you have to really get into the details of comparing the two to determine which one is right for your deck.

But before getting into those details about each decking, let’s get to know the companies first. With a little introduction to each company.

A Brief Introduction to 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 Introduction to UltraDeck [Midwest Manufacturing®]

Unlike Trex, UltraDeck is not an individual decking company but part of a larger company, Midwest Manufacturing. Like the name says, they manufacture building supply products in the Midwest. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to be exact.

Midwest was started in 1969, not with decking but building trusses. Over time the number of products they manufactured increased.

In 2005 they applied for a patent for UltraDeck Fusion. Currently, they have six lines of decking sold under the label UltraDeck plus composite decking overlay board.

UltraDeck is sold through MenardsOpens in a new tab., both brick and mortar and online.

Trex vs UltraDeck – Capping

Both Trex and UltraDeck are made from a blend of recycled plastic and wood fibresOpens in a new tab.. Trex recycled content is 95%, UltraDeck goes even further, with 100% of the decking content coming from recycled material.

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.

Trex’s Transcend line is their most durable cap being more scratch-resistant of all their decking lines. On top of that, Transcend has more vibrant colours and variation than their budget boards.

But one thing that Trex is consistent with is all their boards are wrapped 3 sides.

UltraDeck’s approach to capping is a little different.

For starts, UltraDeck sells uncapped decking. Decking that fades more and does not have the added durability and protection of capping.

With the boards that UltraDeck does cap, they have three different levels and designs.

“Platinum is the picture-perfect combination of aesthetics and performance.”

UltraDeck

Inspire has a PLATINUM cap. It is the most durable and complete of all their caps. Completely wrapping the top and both sides and tucking under the bottom of the board on the bottom. Including inside the groove, unlike Trex, which ends at the top of the groove.

Both their Fusion lines have a PREMIUM cap. Very similar to Platinum but with more colour tones. Creating more variety in the look of the decking. The original Fusion cap ends at the top of the groove, but their 2.0 version is more like Platinum covering inside and the groove and continues past the bottom corner.

Finally, Triumph has a Standard cap. As the name alludes to, nothing fancy just good old decking protecting with a little better colour than uncapped composite. Here to the cap completes the top and sides, extending past the bottom edges for a full wrap but still leaving the bottom uncovered.

Trex vs UltraDeck Decking Options

What does all this capping do for the appearance of the decking? How many options does each brand give for finishing your deck?

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.”

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.

UltraDeck Decking LineNumber of ColoursDecking ProfileCapped Sides
INSPIRETMOpens in a new tab.4SolidPLATINUM (3)
FUSION® 2.02ScallopedPREMIUM (3)
FUSION®Opens in a new tab.2ScallopedPREMIUM (1.75)
TRIUMPHTM2ScallopedSTANDARD (3)
RUSTICTMOpens in a new tab.4ScallopedUncapped
NATURALTMOpens in a new tab.1 reversibleHollowUncapped
QUICKCAPTMOpens in a new tab.2ScallopedUncapped

With 15 decking options, UltraDeck has fewer options than Trex.

I am not including QuickCap as it cannot be installed on a new deck but only laid over existing decking whose appearance has become a little tired but is still structurally strong.  

You could count Natural as having two colours as each board has two different finishes. On one side, a lighter brushed look. Flip the board over, and you have a darker colour wood grain pattern. Giving you more versatility in design. But I am counting it as one board.

Inspire is distinctly different than any Trex boards with its multi-toned boards. Boards going from dark to light and everything between. Side by side, the decking can look like an entirely different board. Similar to what you experience with natural hardwoods, which can vary between trees.

Fusion and Fusion 2.0 are similar to Trex’s Transcend. Consistent in colour and combined include the common Blond, Brown, Red and Grey decking options. Giving you choice within the decking line of deck colour.

Triumph would be similar to Enhance Basic with solid colours. Both include the Grey and Brown decking options, except Trex includes a blond option with the Basic line. Giving you just a little more choice.

Rustic, an uncapped option, is similar to Trex’s earlier but now discontinued decking. Without the smooth cap finish. It is not rough per se, but you can see and feel the decking core’s wood fibres. This is why the boards will fade more than the capped decking.

Ultimately.

“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

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

Trex vs UltraDeck – 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.

I am disappointed that UltraDeck does not material testing reports readily available. Trex does, and this has allowed me to compare them unbiasedly with other brands. Ultra decking does not, so we are going to be a little more subjective.  

Decking Staining Comparison

The decking with a polymer cap will clean up easily for the accidental spills, preventing most staining. Wipe it up and give it a quick scrub, and you won’t have a problem.

Rustic and Natural do not have a protective cap and therefore can be stained. Even if immediately wiped a drop of red wine will leave a mark. The semi-porous material soaking up the colour of the spill, which cannot be washed out.

Decking Fading

Fading just like staining, is connected to the quality of the cap or the lack of one.

Rustic ™ has additives to minimize the sun’s UV rays’ impact but will fade like wood. A plus being uncapped is even if scratched, the material will fade consistently.

Both Natural and Rustic will fade. UltraDeck is very upfront about this.

Of all the capped decking, both Trex and UltraDeck, minimal fading will occur. Not nothing but so little that it will affect the appearance of the deck little.

Decking Breakability

Like I said, a little less scientific comparison of decking strength.

If you are curious, this is what Trex’s lab test results are. They can take a lot of weight before snapping.

Modulus of Elasticity (MOE)
Trex TranscendOpens in a new tab.2 980 MPa432 212 lb

A little less scientific or lab results but in the field where you are actually installing the decking.

But of note, Trex decking can be supported with joist at 16” (400mm) on centre.

UltraDeck decking requires joists every 12” (300mm).

This does not necessarily mean that UltraDeck is weaker. All decking will feel firmer with increase joist’s support.

Other decking manufacturers ’ reps have advised me to frame for PVC decking 12” (300mm) even though it’s rated for 16” (400mm). It just provides a better feel under your feet.

The same can be true for UltraDeck. But it makes me leery of doing any less and suspect that the decking is weaker. It’s a major expense to remove decking and add additional joists after the fact. So, I would not want to do anything less than the required smaller spacing for UltraDeck.

Again, no exact lab test why, just a sense.

But, increase joists, will increase the decks’ total cost, which leads us to our next comparison. Decking Cost.

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

UltraDeck Decking LinesLineal Price
INSPIRETM$4.50 – 4.60
FUSION® 2.0$2.50 – 2.90
FUSION®$2.50 – 2.90
TRIUMPHTM$1.85 – 2.25
RUSTICTM$2.00 – 2.60
NATURALTM$1.60
QUICKCAPTM$1.11

A few notes about UltraDeck pricing.

First, with wider decks, longer boards are better to minimize or even remove butt joints or transition boards. Making 20’ (6m) boards valuable, improving the appearance of the decking and installation.  

Well, with UltraDeck, you will be paying for this additional length. The decking’s lineal price is higher with 20’ (6m) boards than 16’ (4.8m). Not only paying more for the additional 4’ (1.2m), but the entire board is more expansive.

With Natural, this will not be an issue as the longest board is 16’ (4.8m).

Additionally, there are a variety of deck board widths with UltraDeck.

  • Rustic, Fusion & 2.0, Inspire -5-3/16″W x 1″H
  • Triumph – 5” W x 7/8” H
  • Natural – 4″W x 1-1/16″H

This is important to remember when considering pricing. The smaller boards will require more boards per square foot. Trex is consistent 5 ½” plus the fastener gap, UltraDeck boards are skinners requiring additional boards. 

For a deck 12’ (3.6m)  deep, Inspire, Rustic, and Fusions will require an additional board than Trex.

With Triumph, this is increased to 3 additional boards. Natural being only 4” requires even more decking boards.

Meaning that even though Rustic is roughly the same price range of Trex’s Enhance Natural. You will pay more for the same size UltraDeck. Not much but an additional board.

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

Board width aside, Trex and UltraDeck are priced similarly.

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.

Both Trex and UltraDeck have entry-level boards and higher-priced better-looking boards. Within each company, you can find a board price that can work for your budget. You may need to give a little in appearance, but you can meet your budget with both.  

That when choosing between the two, the price will play a very small factor.

Trex vs UltraDeck – Warranty

Trex’s warranty is simpler than UltraDeck, with no difference between lines.

You buy Trex’s budget decking or their best decking, it is all covered with a 25-year pro-rated warranty. No difference. One universal decking warranty.

UltraDeck has two warranties.

A 10-year limited warrantyOpens in a new tab. for their Rustic™, Natural™, and Quickcap. This is limited to structural, not fading or staining of the decking. We will not spend much time comparing this warranty. It’s shorter than Trex, plain and simple.

UltraDeck’s capped decking Inspired, Fusion, Fusion 2.0 and Triumph all include a 25-year limited Warranty.Opens in a new tab.

For both Trex and UltraDeck, their 25-warranty is pro-rated. Full replacement for the first 10 years and then dropping 20% every three years.

Difference in Fading warranty.

Both have a fading warranty for their capped decking. It’s a small difference, but UltraDeck warranties against 4 Delta E Hunter units but Trex 5. As I said a small difference. Any fading less than 5 Delta E is hard to spot with the naked eye, let alone the difference between 4 and 5. But of note, UltraDeck warranties less fading than Trex.

One significant difference between Trex and UltraDeck is their labour warranty.

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.

Not as simple as their material warranty but still of great value if their decking needs to be replaced soon after installing. A big difference between Trex and UltraDeck.

UltraDeck’s labour warrant is simple.

“THE ORIGINAL PURCHASER MUST PAY ALL COSTS OF THE REMOVAL OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCT, TRANSPORTATION, AND INSTALLATION OF THE REPLACEMENT PRODUCT, INCLUDING LABOR”

UltraDeck Warranty

There is none. If their decking fails, you will be paying for removal and installing the new decking.

Trex doesn’t cover labour for the life of the decking, but a least covers the first few years if installed by one of their Pros.

Residential Warranty Claims

It’s always interesting how a company will handle a warranty claim.

If Trex fails, they will either replace the boards or refund you the appropriate money. Money in hand to figure out what you want to do.

UltraDeck will either replace the board or give you a merchandise credit. Locking you in to replace the decking with UltraDeck.

The difference being if you are completely done with the decking. You think it’s the worst product ever made, and you want to never see it again.

With Trex, you can make that a reality, not with UltraDeck. If you want them to pay for it, you will need to replace it with the same or plan to do another project through Menards.

Trex gives you more options in resolving the problem than UltraDeck.

Trex vs UltraDeck – 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 UltraDeck for

  • Number of colours
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Warranty

It’s your deck, and you will need to decide the one that is best for you.

But based on these four, Trex is a good pick.

Trex has more options. More colour, embossing and finishes to choose from. Giving you more choice of how your deck will look.

Of note, though, UltraDeck, especially their Inspire Line, gives you a look that no board from Trex can create. If there is a particular look you are looking for, it may still be a better pick.

Without hard data, Durability is a hard one. But still, the simple fact that Trex requires fewer joists than UltraDeck makes it a good pick.

Price is a tie, except with Trex’s wider board reducing cost. At least a little. Probably not enough to make the difference between UltraDeck or Trex. But if you are counting pennies, it is something to keep in mind.

For their premium boards, the biggest difference in Warranty is labour. It doesn’t matter if you are doing the work yourself or even hiring a general contractor who does more than just Trex decks. But if you hire a Trex Pro, the additional coverage, is one less thing to worry about. They have got you covered.

Beyond that, both warranties are very similar.

Overall, Trex is just a little bit better. Going just a little bit further. This does not mean that UltraDeck is bad decking. Just that Trex in these four categories is a little better.

Hope this helps. Whichever you choose, I hope you have many summers out on your deck, enjoying the sun, friends and family. Few rooms are more inviting than a deck out your back door.

Ryan Nickel

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

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