Trex Deck Decomposition Problems


Trex is a manufactured building material that can be used for a couple of applications, the most common is decking. The product is more costly than wood decking and is quite attractive when new. The composition is a mixture of recycled plastics, such as grocery bags, combined with wood scraps and sawdust. Oddly, the product is made of recycled materials, but once it becomes the Trex product, it is not recyclable.

Product Defects

  • Trex products are made in two locations in the U. S., one is in Nevada. The company disclosed this location manufactured and shipped defective product in the 2003 to 2006 time period. The users complaints about the product the company contends came from that one manufacturing site are splitting, staining, cracking, mold, bubbling, scraping, warp, discoloring, peeling, rot, bowing and flaking.


  • The scientific research continues and the conclusion is not yet fact, however, the decomposition of tannin is thought to be the root cause of the Trex defects. Polyphenols are chemical substances found in plants that are thought to function as agents to control decomposition. The polyphenol tannin is an astringent, that is, a substance that can shrink or constrict tissue. Calamine lotion and rubbing alcohol are examples. The theory is the shrinking aspect and the decomposition aspect of tannin are causing bowing, warping, rot, splitting, splintering and the discoloration in the Trex composite.


  • The first step in resolving surface defects such as mold or staining or uneven coloring is to wash the deck. The company sometimes dispatches a local tradesman to the site, who uses a conventional over-the-counter deck cleaner/stain remover. Pressure washing, especially at high force is not advisable; a low pressure rinse is more appropriate. That ordinary step may solve surface problems, and if not you likely have defective product. The only recourse is to contact the manufacturer.

Company Action

  • The Trex product does have a warranty, and the company has honored the warranty down to the fine details that some consumers may not be aware of. The company acknowledged there was defective product out in the community and set up a $45 million reserve to deal with it. Many claims resulted in the company shipping replacement boards and screws to the site, reimbursement for the installation labor cost and a cash amount paid directly to the customer. The warranty does not cover the removal and disposal of the defective decking. The removal can possibly damage the supporting structure so Trex assumes no liability in that regard.

Legal Route

  • A Washington state resident filed a class action law suit against Trex in January 2009. The suit seeks damages and monetary reward for dissatisfied customers nationwide. The suit states the type and impact of defective product and the company does not dispute those facts. The suit centers around the extent and the fairness of the warranty and the lack of adequate company response to warranty demands. So in summary, Trex has an admittedly defective product and is being sued because of the manner of response to the defective product.

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  • Photo Credit Krdan_lelalir:commons.wikimedia, Tomia:commons.wikimedia, Simon A. Eugster:commons.wikimedia, Angie:commons.wikimedia, DBKing:commons.wikimedia,
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