Artificial trees today are more realistic than ever. In fact, you can even choose the type of needles that are on the branches.
There are two major types of technology or material from which the needles are manufactured. The first is polyethylene (PE) and the second is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). There is a third type that combines both, but we will deal with that later.
Polyethylene is flexible and durable but still lightweight. We know it primarily from plastic bags and food containers.
This is usually touted as feeling “real” or “true”. In this process polyethylene (PE) is injected into molds that are patterned after actual evergreen/conifer tree branches. This means the artificial branches have the look of natural trees. The substance that molds the needles also feels more like real needles to the touch. The final product is a more authentic appearance, including color variations. PE trees are proving to be more durable over time. Taking all of this into consideration, PE trees are going to cost more.
PVC is most often associated with plastic pipes, flooring, and sheeting on the market today.
Christmas tree needles made from this material can be flat and significantly less genuine. Because most of the early artificial trees were made from PVC, many people will buy them for the feeling of nostalgia of their youth. Some manufacturers will vary the size and textures to make the tree seem more natural. This is by far the most economical price option.
You can also find artificial trees that combine PE and PVC needles for their foliage. With PVC as a filler, the tree appears fuller. Obviously, this becomes a middle-of-the-road price range and can be a good compromise on style.
When you are shopping, read all of the descriptors carefully to see the composition of the tree, including the needles. If you are at a brick-and-mortar store, touch the branches to see if you will be satisfied. Online, zoom in as close as possible to get the best view. Read reviews and ask around.
Manufacturers vary by quality and quantity. Some are pretty standard shapes and some will be unique. Depending on your budget, personal taste, and needs, there is certainly the right artificial tree on the market that will fit you and your family to a tee.
We have some additional post about Christmas here