Polywood outdoor materials are sometimes used interchangeably with composite because they are both made from recycled materials called polyethylene. However, Polywood is solely made from high-density polyethylene, while composite decking materials can be made from polyethylene and wood remnants. For reference, polyethylene is a type of plastic used to make things like containers for our milk. Polyethylene-derived products may be referred to as PVC as well.

In this guide, we’re comparing the brand Polywood and Trex, a brand that is known for its composite decking. As mentioned above, the two are made from different materials and thus have different purposes, strengths, and weaknesses.

As such, we’ll be comparing what Polywood has to offer and how Trex might compare. Though the difference might be minute, it is important to know before choosing the material or brand you use for your decking and outdoor needs

Polywood Overview

Polywood is a brand of outdoor furniture that uses recycled high-density polyethylene to craft its products. Similar to composite materials used by other brands, Polywood gives new life to recycled materials and is intended to resemble natural wood. The brand Polywood carries a large range of products. All meant to embellish your outdoor living experience.

So what is high-density polyethylene? It is around more than you might think. In our drink bottles, our food containers, our take-out dishware, this polymer helps to make those materials strong and resilient. It should go without saying that those materials usually go on to pollute and end up in landfills, oceans, and as litter.

Polywood works to give these wasted materials a new life. The process to transition these materials into furniture is a simple one, but it’s not easy. The plastics are cleaned, sorted, and transitioned into flakes before being melted down. A UV-inhibited pigment is then added to the melted plastic, which will continue to spin, helping to distribute a “wood grain” and make it look like authentic wood!

After this process has been completed, the new-again materials are shaped and arranged to make high-quality pieces sold to customers via Polywood. Strong and resilient, these materials will stand the test of time without the worry of peeling and flaking.

Trex Overview

Trex is a company centered around composite materials. They offer decking, railing, and similar décor to decorate your backyard space. In fact, Trex’s main selling point is decking, and it is available across the country for purchase. As one of the biggest composite decking brands, Trex has proved to be an equal opponent to its natural opponent, wood.

So how are Trex composite materials made? Quite similar to Polywood’s artificial design, Trex uses a simple process to turn recycled goods into beautiful flooring. However, composite options might include recycled wood as well – not the high-quality ones found in decking, but rather wood chips from trees, sawdust, and similar materials that have no life unless repurposed.

The most popular way to make composite materials, specifically Trex’s decking, is to melt the wood or plastic materials and compress them into a mold while working in a wood grain finish. Once the molds have cooled and finished setting, they will be removed from the mold resembling real wood.  

Polywood vs. Trex Decking: Cost Comparison

Polywood or PVC materials and Trex decking can vary widely in price. One is truly plastic, while the other is a mix of plastic and recycled wood.

When looking at one square foot of Trex flooring, the number breaks down to roughly $15 per square foot, though it can often be less or more depending on the distributor. It can also vary on which line is being used as Trex offers multiple product lines varying in price and quality.

On the other hand, PVC materials, the ones that are 100% high-density polyethylene derived, are an average of $10 per square foot. Again, this number can vary depending on the manufacturer. Though the brand Polywood does not distribute decking materials at this time, its prices are fairly high. For example, a three-piece rocking chair set, including a small table, all of which is made from recycled materials, is $500.00.

Polywood vs. Trex: Natural Appearance Comparison

While the repurposing of old materials is honorable in any sense, one of these manufacturers is better at emulating a true wood look, and that is Trex. Trex’s materials are unmatched when it comes to a natural essence. With gorgeous wood grain markings and different product lines aimed at looking more natural, Trex offers a great middle-ground for those in favor of a composite alternative.

As for Polywood products, they’re equally beautiful, though they offer a different style. Polywood’s PVC products are also made solely from plastic, while composite materials usually include wood as well, helping to naturalize the texture.

This is also the case when it comes to PVC materials in general, including decking. The material does not provide a natural appearance quite like Trex’s composite one does. However, the goal of the manufacturers who produce this material may not be to resemble wood or be natural. Instead, they simply wish to create eco-friendly alternatives that serve the same purpose. For some, foregoing the natural look may be a major benefit as it doesn’t fit with their style.

Polywood vs. Trex Products: Style and Color Range

Speaking of style, it’s important to weigh the stylistic options of your choices before committing. For example, Trex offers a few product lines that vary in color, natural appearance, and durability, which means a thicker, denser board in some cases.

Alternatively, Polywood, while it doesn’t provide much of a wood-like appearance in most cases, does offer many colors and styles to choose from. However, oftentimes you will find with Polywood products that the price rises sharply when choosing a unique color, and the delivery time rises sharply. Again, this is because the products are built to order while Trex’s boards are usually ready to go, even to the point of being stocked in major stores across the country.

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Polywood vs. Trex: Final Showdown

While Trex and Polywood (PVC) materials provide alternatives for shoppers not interested in natural alternatives, they each come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Polywood can be inexpensive, but it won’t resemble wood if that is your desire. Instead, it will, at face value, appear man-made.

Despite Trex being slightly more, you can’t beat the natural grain finish and quick, widespread availability. Because composite materials are more readily available, finding someone to install if you’re not planning on a DIY project may be easier.

You’ll also find that PVC products have a shorter warranty window than Trex products, in general. PVC products may be guaranteed as weather-resistant, but oftentimes they do not protect against scratches or stains as Trex products do.

It’s important to carefully weigh your options before purchasing materials for your outdoor paradise. When it comes to Polywood and Trex, the biggest difference is durability and style. So carefully consider whether you’re looking for a natural look or if its solely plastic-based alternative will do the trick for you.

Either way, your deck will be catered to your style and will be long-lasting without the hassle of natural materials – you can’t beat that!

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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