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Choosing What Your Christmas Tree Is Made From

Whether your tree is going to be pre-lit or unlit, the materials used to make your tree is vitually important. You want your tree to last a lifetime and it should last a lifetime - that's why it's artificial.

An artificial Christmas tree by its very nature is not meant to be disposable. It's meant to last. In addition, it needs to be safe.

Here are the factors to consider:

Safety

  • Your tree needs to be flame retardant. This is an absolute must. This also includes any embellishments that come on the tree: flocking, decoractions, etc. A tree that is not flame retardant should not be considered (or manufactured for that matter).
  • If your pre-lit tree is incandescent then each set of lights should be UL® listed. If your pre-lit tree is LED then the power supply should be UL® listed.

Foliage

Many trees come in a variety of different foliage types: traditional PVC (polyvinyl chloride), hard needle PVC, and PE (polyethylene).

Traditional PVC

This is the industry standard. It has been used for over forty decades as the primary material in artificial Christmas trees.

  • It should ALWAYS be flame retardant - no exceptions. We cannot stress this enough. You can always ask for a copy of the flame certification test.
  • Softer to the touch.
  • There are two types of PVC trees: one ply and two ply.
    • One ply - where there is only on "run" of PVC material (not including the brown runner in the middle). The material should be at least 0.12mm thick to avoid having the branch tips crush and lose their shape.
    • Two ply - where there are two "runs" runs of PVC material. The first run should be no less than 0.12mm thick and the second one should be no less than 0.07mm.
  • All PVC trees will shed to some degree. This is unavoidable.

Hard Needle PVC

A newer material being used in the industry standard that gives trees a unique look and feel.

  • It should ALWAYS be flame retardant - no exceptions.
  • More realistic to the touch. It can really mimic the feel of a pine tree.
  • The material should be at least 0.55mm thick to avoid having the branch tips crush and lose their shape.
  • All hard needle PVC trees will shed to some degree. This is unavoidable.

PE

The newest material being used in the industry standard that gives trees a unique look.

  • It should ALWAYS be flame retardant - no exceptions.
  • Compared to traditional PVC, PE is very expensive. Most trees use a combination of PE with PVC.
  • More realistic to eyes but no so to the touch. Most people feel that PE is very "plastic-ee" to the touch.
  • You generally cannot shape PE tips because they are a molded plastic.
  • While it doesn't shed, PE tips can sometimes break off. This is unavoidable.

Branches, Pole, and Stand

  • The branch rods should be made from steel. This ensures that your tree can handle the heaviest ornaments.
  • The branch tips themselves should be made from a strong wire (also to support your ornaments).
  • The pole of your tree should be no less than 1" in diameter. The pole must be able to suppor the weight of the tree as well as your ornaments.
  • The tree pole should also be made from steel - never plastic.
  • The stand needs be made from steel. A plastic stand is too flimsy to support the weight of the tree.
  • The bolts should go through the stand to ensure the stand doesn't fold accidentily if the tree is moved.

Step Four: Selecting Your Christmas Tree Should Complement Your Ornaments

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