By Steve Chapman
Last month, I wrote about the pros and cons of composite decking. This month, we will discuss two class action lawsuits against Trex and their settlements. In the first lawsuit from 2004, the main claim was that Trex engaged in false advertising by saying its product was maintenance free. The company never admitted liability but settled the matter to avoid prolonged and expensive litigation.
As a result of this lawsuit, Trex hired the Environmental Solutions Association (ESA) to mitigate problems. Locally, ESA hired Wash My Deck based on our experience in mold and mildew removal as well as in restoring older composite decks. ESA provided us with a stain and instructions for cleaning and treating the decks. We were hired to exclusively mitigate Trex decks that were subject to the lawsuit.
The second lawsuit in 2013 was a class action filed against Trex for allegedly misrepresenting two issues with its decks: (1) the product fades significantly over time and (2) mold makes its way to the surface because of the manufacturing process, which I alluded to in last month’s column. While the surface mold can be cleaned, it comes back quickly. The result of this lawsuit was that Trex again did not accept any responsibility; however the company settled to avoid prolonged and expensive litigation. Their settlement agreement included three tiers to remediate the consumer problems.
After these lawsuits, Trex posted a Mold Technical Bulletin, which states:
“All exterior building materials require cleaning. Trex is no exception. Periodic cleaning of Trex decking will remove dirt and pollen that can feed mold. If mold colonies appear, clean the deck with a commercial deck wash containing a detergent and sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach. This chemical
will remove the mold, but please be aware it will also lighten the wood on the surface. In some cases, it will require several treatments with the deck wash to completely remove all mold colonies. Even if the spots are no longer visible, there may still be mold spores on the surface that could re-grow, so periodic
cleaning is important.”