Trex vs Vinyl: 7 Reasons Trex Fencing is Better Than PVC Vinyl

Trex vs Vinyl

PVC Vinyl fencing (also known simply as vinyl fencing) is a manufactured product introduced a couple of decades ago as an alternative to wood.  Plastics have replaced natural products in many ways primarily because they are relatively inexpensive and because they currently won’t biodegrade. Outdoor structures made from wood, like decks or fences, are more prone to the natural process of decay, so overall, having a plastic product alternative makes sense if product replacement due to rot is a primary objective.

An alternative technology to PVC Vinyl is composite building materials. A composite differs from a wholly plastic product like PVC Vinyl because it combines more than one base component to take advantage of the virtues of the various elements. In the case of Trex, the composite is comprised of recycled plastics similar to those used in vinyl fencing combined with hardwood sawdust. There are multiple benefits to this technology that make it superior to PVC Vinyl. The following infographic details seven of those reasons.


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Trex is Stronger

Lacking durability, PVC vinyl fencing is susceptible to damage.

In a perfect world, a fence would be installed and left to serve its purpose without concern for incidental damage and the elements. Unfortunately, given enough time, anything outdoors is going to be impacted by its surroundings. A fence has to be able to withstand a reasonable amount of normal wear and tear. That’s where Trex is simply superior.

Although it doesn’t break down nearly as fast as wood, plastic polymers will degrade eventually and can certainly be affected by trauma such as UV light or blunt force. To be fair, composites can likewise be affected by the same elements, as can cement or brick. That’s why the thickness and density of Trex fencing matters. Simply put, Trex has significantly more mass in it than a PVC Vinyl fence. The wall of a typical vinyl post is only 1/4″ thick whereas a Trex post is 5/8″ thick. That’s 2.5x greater! Therefore, Trex has the bulk to withstand a lot more natural and accidental abuse than vinyl.

It isn’t just the thickness of the material that makes Trex a stronger fence, however. The interlocking pickets leverage the benefit of mutual reinforcement to make the pickets even more rigid than a tongue-and-groove design like that used by PVC Vinyl. Additionally, for the Seclusions style, the contoured top rail and heavy gauge aluminum bottom rails give the fence additional strength both vertically and laterally.  For Horizons, the ribbed rails and picket fasteners lock the system together tightly for the strongest horizontal fence system based on 8′ centers.

Trex is Better Looking

A Trex fence next to a PVC vinyl fence. The reflectivity of the plastic PVC vinyl contrasts sharply with the natural, matte surface of Trex.
The plastic panels of a PVC vinyl fence vs. natural-looking Trex composite fence.

Aesthetics are subjective in general. However, some products stand out, calling attention to their unique features. Trex specifically designed its fence system to appeal in an elegant fashion with characteristics that set it apart. PVC vinyl fences have an inherent limitation in appeal due to the clearly plastic appearance of the fence. Also, the tongue-and-groove system flattens the surface of the fence, giving it the look of a sheet. Trex, on the other hand, not only has a matte surface that looks like finished painted wood fence, it has a distinct interlocking picket system that emulates a board-on-board design. Along with the contoured top rail, the undulating field of pickets give the fence beautiful shadow lines, creating a sense of depth.

Since it typically stands six feet tall, a fence is one of the most visible features of a yard. A PVC vinyl fence is not likely to cause heads to turn with admiration, but drive through a neighborhood with a Trex fence and it will immediately catch your eye!

Trex Lasts Longer

Holes in a damaged PVC vinyl fence
Even small rocks will damage the thin material of a PVC Vinyl Fence.

It stands to reason that if your fence is stronger that it should also last longer. While plastic itself may not degrade for centuries, the form that the plastic takes most likely will. The cumulative damage that comes from years of accidents and neglect or abuse eventually will make a fence incapable of serving its function. Broken posts, blown out panels, or just overall damage will cause a consumer to need a new fence.

Given that any fence is a large property improvement, consumers prefer a product that reduces long-term budget headaches. A buyer that has money now may not have the funds in the future or may need to allocate them to another major project. A fence should be an investment in a property’s security and privacy, not a potential reason for future regret. Lifetime warranties for PVC vinyl manufacturing defects are fine, but with a longer life expectation in the real world, Trex is the better value over time.

Trex is Better for the Environment

Now more than ever careful stewardship of our planet and its resources matter. Most PVC vinyl fencing is made from virgin materials, meaning that it has been produced from new plastic that was specifically created to make the fencing products. That not only means more plastic is introduced into our environment, it also means more resources will be needed to produce it. Unless the factories that make the plastics and the manufacturing facilities that make that plastic into fencing are built along strict green industry guidelines, that’s a double whammy. Trex, on the other hand, has followed a corporate philosophy for over two decades that incorporates the best practices of green materials AND sustainable manufacturing. Trex composites contain at least 95% recycled content (wood sawdust and plastic film). Additionally, Trex sources its materials in a manner that reduces the carbon footprint from transportation and Trex Company runs green factories that use high efficiency fuel sources.

Trex has won several awards and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Trex materials contribute up to five LEED points (a rating system that sets standards for green building materials, manufacturing, and construction).

Trex Withstands the Elements

A Trex Fence still standing in the background with a wind-damaged PVC Vinyl fence in front.
A Trex Fence still standing in the background with a wind-damaged PVC Vinyl fence in front.

Trex composite materials are made to handle climates of all types. From the summer heat of southwestern deserts to the frigid winters of northern Canada and Alaska, Trex fencing has stood up to the most extreme temperatures for years.

Trex was designed to stand up to high winds too. The interlocking pickets and thick top and bottom rails are some of the elements of a Trex fence that make it withstand high winds on 8′ centers.  It’s costly enough to deal with hurricane or tornado damage. A Trex fence helps alleviate those costs with a wind load capacity of 110mph and higher.

Trex is the Greater Lifetime Value

Clip art of a Clipboard with a sheet comparing Trex to PVC VinylWe’ve talked about how Trex helps to put a damper on long-term, out-of-pocket costs. It’s also a product that helps significantly reduce maintenance time allocation, whether it’s investigating and coordinating maintenance services or maintaining a fence yourself. Additionally, while it’s hard to put a dollar value on aesthetics, appearances do matter. That’s why consumers buy beautifully designed landscaping features, attractive cars, and striking appliances. The way we present our properties to ourselves and to others is typically an important decision-making factor in what we buy. Trex combines all these elements into a fence that performs and appeals. Consumers specifically buy a Trex fence rather than a PVC vinyl fence because they want a product that will give them the best of all worlds.

Trex Fencing Has Many Applications

An 8 foot tall PVC vinyl fence damaged by winds
PVC vinyl fencing is not strong enough for tall commercial fencing.

The versatility of the Trex fencing system gives a consumer a host of options for using the durable materials in a variety of applications. For example, consider Trex fencing posts and panels for deck screens and privacy railing. Trex fencing components are easy to cut and can be adjusted to create panels of various heights. Because the posts are hollow, they can sleeve over posts attached to the rim of a deck. Vinyl posts are hollow as well, but they are thin and have routed holes for rails rather than adjustable brackets.

How about combining posts with ornamental panels? Unlike vinyl, brackets for ornamental steel or aluminum panels can be fastened directly to Trex posts. What about commercial projects? One of the benefits of Trex fencing makes it an excellent solution for commercial jobs — tall heights. With the ability to install the fence up to 12′ tall, Trex fencing is the best alternative to masonry for HVAC and trash enclosures.

Trex vs Vinyl: 7 Reasons Trex Fencing is Better Than PVC Vinyl
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