From the carved wood and dyed goose feathers of the 19th century, today’s artificial Christmas trees are made to look and feel realistic with two popular materials: polyvinyl chloride or PVC, and polyethylene or PE. We list down the differences between these two types of trees to help guide you in choosing the perfect one for your holiday home.
PVC artificial Christmas trees were invented in the 1930s and became widely used because they were affordable and long-lasting. When Tree Classics was founded in 1976, PVC was right at the height of its popularity. These trees feature compressed PVC sheets cut into long flat rectangles for leaves, which are then wrapped around wire strings to create branches. A central metal pole serves as the tree’s trunk.
In the past decade or so, tree manufacturers began to experiment with a different technology called Polyethylene, or PE. Unlike flat PVC needles, PE needles are injection-molded into three-dimensional shapes using different pigmentation for greater color accuracy.
Manufacturers added gradients of green and hints of brown to give more color and visual texture to PVC trees. They also developed different tree profiles to resemble real trees, with wired branches made more bendable for shaping. However, there are certain limits to what can be done with this material, as the needles remain flat and two-dimensional.
PE trees, on the other hand, are crafted to mimic actual species of fir and spruce trees. Instead of having flat tips, PE trees showcase lush, long, and tapered needles that look and feel like real tree foliage. This lifelike characteristic helped make PE trees become the standard in Christmas tree technology and the tree of choice for decorators and designers.
With proper care and storage, both types of tree can last between 5 and 10 years. PVC trees however are more prone to shedding or losing its needles compared to PE trees with molded tips. Both materials have also been enhanced to be flame-retardant and free from pollen or any tree-related allergens.
PVC trees are generally considered to be less expensive than PE trees. They are also more accessible and can be easily found in stores or outlets. While some manufacturers offer 100% PE trees at premium prices, most use a combination of PE and PVC needles to get the best of both worlds. PE brings realism to the tree’s outer foliage, while PVC adds fullness near its center. This is a great option for those looking for lifelike, long-lasting artificial Christmas trees at reasonable prices.
Both PVC and PE artificial Christmas trees can serve as beautiful centerpieces for your home this holiday. Before purchasing a new tree, check your options and browse Tree Classics’ selection of quality PE and PVC artificial Christmas trees.