Vinyl siding has become the most popular siding material in the United States and its popularity has also spread across the world. Vinyl siding is quick and easy to install and is extremely cheap but the question is, what’s the truth about vinyl siding?
It Looks Bad: Vinyl siding significantly reduces the character of a house. It alters the overall proportions and texture of the home. If you own a historic home, the material will especially diminish the curb appeal of the structure. Details such as headers over doors and windows, shadow lines at trim, beaded edges, ornamental details and moldings are just a few of the nice features that will be covered up and will in effect destroy the historical authenticity of your home.
Durability: Manufacturers and unscrupulous contractors alike boast the durability of the material to homeowners. While the material itself will last a very long time, what will it look like? Vinyl becomes brittle over time, and in extreme weather it is far less durable than siding made of masonry or wood. Strong winds can get underneath the material and rip it from the home and airborne debris such as branches will puncture the siding. Collisions with baseballs or lawnmowers will break or crack the material and it cannot be patched; the entire panel will need to be replaced. The product is a flexible material, designed with tabs that allow it to move as the outdoor temperatures cause your home to expand and contract. If fasteners are too tight your siding will buckle and it will increase the chances of panels blowing off your house; this is a very common problem.
Color: Vinyl cannot be painted. The material fades significantly after about five years. The material will also loose its gloss due to weather conditions and aging, giving it a dull look. If a panel cracks or breaks due to a collision with a ball or lawnmower, the new replacement panel will not match the color of your faded vinyl. Replacement panels stick out like a sore thumb and degrade the appeal of your home even further.
Maintenance & Cost: Many contractors claim that the product is maintenance free, this is a lie. Vinyl siding cannot be painted and therefore it must be washed at least once a year. Wooden trim and sashes must still be painted and ladders leaning against your siding can cause cracks and scuffs. Moisture can easily become trapped under the siding and will invite insect infestation and promote mold and mildew. This moisture can penetrate your homes interior walls and cause peeling and blistering of paint, decay and a number of other issues. To avoid these problems you will need to frequently re-caulk joints and around trim. This maintenance is time consuming and costly. While vinyl can be cheap the first time around, the constant maintenance and short life span of the product can become expensive. The removal and replacement of the siding is often more costly than if you were to initially install a superior product.
Property Value: If your home is historic or located in an upscale area, the one-dimensional look of vinyl siding often results in the material being viewed as cheap. This can be a major turn-off to certain homebuyers. Many homeowners will want to remove the material and will view its replacement as a necessary expense. Buyers like this will want you to cover the costs associated with the replacement, often lowering the sale price of your house.
Energy Efficiency: Some vinyl advocates will go as far as to claim that the product will lower your energy bills. This is not true. Vinyl panels cannot provide significant insulation just as most other siding products will not.
Bad Contractors: Shifty contractors are interested in one thing only, your money. Unfortunately a lot of contractors are looking for a quick profit and with the low cost of vinyl and the ease of installation, this material is a great candidate for a fast buck. Contractors who recommend this product in the first place aren’t likely to be true craftsmen. The effectiveness of vinyl siding depends on careful and proper installation procedures. If your contractor is not trained properly, works to quickly and doesn’t install the product correctly; it can bulge, warp, expand and crack. Product warranties will be voided by improper installation and most contractor warranties only last a year.
Environmental and Health Concerns: If you’re looking to make your home environmentally responsible, stay away from vinyl. The US Green Building Council declined to support the use of vinyl siding and refuses to issue LEED credit points specific to vinyl use. The product is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and is thought to cause cancer in humans. Scientists claim that the manufacturing process produces greenhouse gases as well as carcinogen and its by-products contribute to smog and acid rain. Disposal of vinyl is also viewed as hazardous to the environment. Health organizations have reported high incidences of cancer, respiratory problems, birth defects, liver failure, kidney failure and neurological damage among individuals who live near or work in factories where the product is produced. In addition, accidental fires that occur in vinyl-sided homes are considered highly dangerous due to the toxic fumes that are emitted when the material is heated.
As a PA Home Builder, we do not recommend the use of vinyl siding. We suggest using a Fiber Cement based product. Fiber Cement products, such as those manufactured by the James Hardie Company, often come with 50 year warranties. In addition, they can be painted, they resist moisture penetration, they can withstand weather and they make your home more aesthetically pleasing.
This article is Copyright © 2011 Chase Building Group, LLC.