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PE vs PVC Artificial Christmas Trees

When shopping for an artificial Christmas tree, you may see the word polyethylene (PE) used to describe the materials the tree is made of. You’ll probably also notice that any tree with PE in it is described as “more realistic” and is sold at a higher price. Why is that?

In this article, we’ll explain what PE needles actually are, what makes them different from traditional polyvinylchloride (PVC) foliage, and how they might impact your purchase decision.

What is PE? PE is a common type of plastic that can be molded into various items, such as plastic bags, containers, and drinking bottles. It’s ideal for making Christmas trees because the material can be molded to create foliage that looks natural.

What makes PE different?

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(L to R) Closeups of our PE Aspen Fir and PVC Mountain Ridge Spruce

The foliage on traditional artificial Christmas trees is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic cut into thin, rectangular strips for a soft, papery needle. Artificial Christmas trees with PVC needles are popular for their full shape and durability, with trees lasting over 10 years with proper care.

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Example of Christmas Tree Market's PE, the Aspen Fir

PE needles, on the other hand, closely resemble natural spruce or fir needles. They have a 3D quality, and can be rounded, tapered, or forked to replicate natural tree species. PE needles can also replicate the thickness, shape, and curve of real needles for a gorgeous, full tree.

How are PE needles made? PE needles are more realistic because of how they are produced. During manufacturing, the PE plastic is melted, and then poured into specially designed molds based off of real tree needles. These individually molded tips are then attached to the branches.

Should I buy a PE or PVC tree?

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Close up of one of Christmas Tree Market's PVC tree: Mountain Ridge Spruce

If you want a realistic shape and color but still retain the look of classic artificial trees, a PVC tree is your best choice. Christmas Tree Market offers trees ranging from full PVC to nearly full PE so you can get the look you like. Many of our trees have a combination of both PE and PVC needles, with PE needles in the forefront of the branches to achieve realism, and PVC needles near the trunk for a fuller look. Trees made with PE are more expensive than traditional PVC trees, but their highly realistic look and durability make them a great investment.

Check out Christmas Tree Market's Most Realistic Trees for a closer look at our PE needles!

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