Vinyl siding

marys1000June 28, 2008

I've been looking for something to buy outside of town and on a lot of the older farm houses (1900-1940) I see (just old farm houses, not anything really spectacular) I've noticed that there is a lot of cheap looking vinyl siding.

Now I know that old wood gets to a point where it just doesn't hold paint so people need to do something but some of them look like they just took the siding and attached it directly to the wood so its just that thin sheath of vinyl directly on the old wood, at least thats the way it looks to me. (If I remember right one house had staples?)

Isn't there supposed to be some sort of foam backing?

Is there a correct vs. incorrect way of doing vinyl - or just a better vs. a not so better cheap way? What do I look for?

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Carol_from_ny

Vinyl always looks cheap to me. Wood regardless of age can hold paint it's all about knowing what you are doing and doing the proper prep work.
Old houses deserve to have their wooden outsides exposed it's what gives them their character. If you want vinyl look for something newer.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 12:23PM
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marys1000

I'm not sure you read my message carol before getting cranky.
The houses I'm looking at already have had vinyl applied. No need to jump all over me.
As far as wood holding paint - I don't know you or what you know. My BIL and his family have been in the paint business for 50? years - and that's what he told my nephew looking at an old house - and I believe him.
Anyone with more helpful information?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 12:54PM
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jcin_los_angeles

Here's an explanation of the physical and arquitectural damage vinyl/aluminum siding does to historic houses. Which can cause old house people to get cranky. Our Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) prohibits this type of siding, as well as vinyl/alum. windows, too.

I've seen good results from people removing siding, including large asphalt siding, from the older wood siding with lovely results.

Here is a link that might be useful: vinyl siding

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 12:24AM
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marys1000

Righty, wrong forum.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 7:20AM
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housekeeping

Mary,

Old wood can hold always hold paint, but sometimes people are told it can't because the cost of prepping for the new paint can be daunting. If it's real wood (as opposed to some form of laminated or chipboard), and the previous layers of paint have been stripped and the surface correctly prepared there is no reason it can't be painted again.

Vinyl jobs over wood siding, especially on older houses almost always damage some of the trim details, either by sawing them off entirely to fit the vinyl dimensions, or just covering them up. That's what makes most older houses with vinyl coverings look so bleak. And then there's the issue of what vinyl (and any foam laid underneath it) may do to the strucure if there isn't an adequate vapor barrier on the interior (warm) side of the wall. In wooden houses without vapor barriers (the original state for most old houses) moisture from the interior can migrate outward and dissipate harmlessly without being trapped within the wall assembly. If vinyl is just laid on without attending to the interior moisture issue, then serious, long-term problems can occur within the wall leading to structural rot and damage.

Around my area one of the most active vinyl installers has a slogan on a sign outside of every house he's working on. It says: Vinyl is Final. In many cases it is the final straw that damages older buildings.

I think that vinyl siding wouldn't be such a problem on a newer building without the trim and detail challenges of old buildings and with modern moisture handling techniques designed-in from the start.

HTH,

Molly~

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:17PM
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mom2lilenj

I agree that the wood siding looks best and if possible get it repainted instead of put in vinyl siding. However, houses aren't always in original condition when you take ownership. In my case very inappropriate vinyl windows were already installed when we bought the house, all trim and details were stripped off. The windows were installed and prepped for vinyl siding (flashing installed over the wood siding) and if we were to go with the wood siding, some of the siding would have had to be replaced in places (because of the different size windows)or all windows would have had to replaced. We couldn't afford to go with the wood. I tried to argue with DH about waiting until we could afford it but it didn't help our insurance company was threating to drop us if we didn't finish the siding. Unfortunately, I didn't know about this board at the time or I would have had a bit more ammunition. So ended up with vinyl nailed directly over the wood siding in hopes (at least for me) that sometime down the road we could bring the wood back. I don't know when that will be...

Last year we started to redo the kitchen and dining room and the horribly inappropriate windows HAD TO GO!! I wanted to just replace the offending windows, but a snowball occured and we ended up replacing all the windows in the front of the house with windows similar to what used to be in the house. The snowball also lead to a more appropriate porch on too. We could only afford the front of the house so we put the vinyl back on, but this time, our contractor made a simple wooden window trim with header and nailed it to the siding then wrapped it in aluminum. So it has a 3-d look to it. While I would much prefer to have the old wood siding, this will have to do for now.

Here is a before picture:

and during (needs more paint and cut sandstone to cover porch block):

Sorry this is so long winded! But I wanted to give you some options if you end up getting a house that is far from original.

Now if I can just figure out what to do with that front door.....

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 11:00AM
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happycthulhu

Yes Mary, you're in the wrong forum if you came here expecting us to extol the virtues of vinyl siding.
That's not what owning an old house is about.
Vinyl is an evil that should never be put on an older home, or any home for that matter.
It will eventually destroy the original wood siding that it's put over, and looks cheap.
The others are right that you can always paint wood. It just sometimes takes a lot more work to make it come out right.
We aren't an unfriendly bunch, but there are a lot of purists here that curse the previous owners of old houses that put vinyl siding or windows on and threw away the original wooden windows.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:06PM
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housekeeping

>mom2lilenj

All I can say is, WOW! You have improved the look of your old house, wonderfully. And I'm very glad you posted because your before and after pictures perfectly illustrate an important (and often lost in the discussion) point. When working with an old house, it's often proportion that matters, more than anything, I think. The change of window shape and the new porch make a huge improvement. And if the structure is covered in vinyl for the nonce, well, so be it. Few people have enough funds to completely overhaul an old house in one go and most of us live with vary states of completeness.

Thanks for posting your pictures.

Molly~

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:46PM
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marys1000

In my defense = here is my original post:

I've been looking for something to buy outside of town and on a lot of the older farm houses (1900-1940) I see (just old farm houses, not anything really spectacular) I've noticed that there is a lot of cheap looking vinyl siding.

Nope no - extolling evil vinyl there - just saying I find a lot of it already done.
Not that I'm looking for a vinyl house, not that I like vinyl, just that there's a lot of it out there.

cont...
Now I know that old wood gets to a point where it just doesn't hold paint so people need to do something but some of them look like they just took the siding and attached it directly to the wood so its just that thin sheath of vinyl directly on the old wood, at least thats the way it looks to me. (If I remember right one house had staples?)
Isn't there supposed to be some sort of foam backing?

Nope - not extoling or praising evil vinyl here either
- just pointing out that people take the cheaper way out and wondering if there's supposed to be foam backing.

Is there a correct vs. incorrect way of doing vinyl - or just a better vs. a not so better cheap way? What do I look for?

Nope - no extolling the evil vinyl here either. Just wondering if I do buy an old house that ALREADY!!!!! has vinyl - what would I look for to determine whether it was done "correctly" if there is such a thing.

So

"If you want vinyl look for something newer."
"We aren't an unfriendly bunch, "

pretty is as pretty does, I suggest some of you read posts more thoroughly before you get self-righteous.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 3:20PM
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kimkitchy

Well, thanks to mom2lilenj who did understand your original post. We buy less than perfect old houses because we love them, AND they have warts. And as Molly says, few of us have funds to completely restore our homes in one go... so we live with the warts and we work around them. (BTW mom2lilenj I LOVE what you've done with your house.) Parts of my house still have 60's aluminum siding (the unlovely predecessor to vinyl) because my priorities were a new bath, new kitchen, renovated upstairs, refinished wood floors, new roof, restored gable shingles (et.al.) and the money only goes so far.

I am a regular lurker here, and sometimes responder. There are indeed a series of topics that will get people up on their high horses (vinyl siding, replacement windows, removing original plaster, etc, etc) on this forum. I read posts because I generally learn something new about a topic every time. I don't think there is any need for people to preach though.

I'm afraid that I don't know the answer to your question either about the foam backing or the right vs wrong installation techniques. Maybe the remodeling forum, or someone in the construction trades could help you find out. Stay after the information, though. If you are considering buying an old farmhouse that already had vinyl installed, these are good questions to ask and know -- because you might live with the vinyl for a while and not be replacing it (e.g. while the kids are in college, or you are building your retirement nest egg, or whatever). If a shlocky vinyl installation causes damage to what's under it, you might not buy. Hang in there. There are still some nice people out here.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 6:37PM
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mom2lilenj

Mary1000, I don't know much about construction, but what I would look for if I was looking at houses, is to make sure the vinyl is not warping and is on straight. Go to the corner of the house and look down the siding and see if it's straight, buckling, etc. From what a contractor friend of mine said, one way to make it easier to make it straight is to put foam backing and nail to that. Another thing to look for is that the vinyl is not nail too tight, it expands and contracts in the weather and if it's too tight it will buckle and you may have other problems. Also there should be flashing (I think that's the term) around windows, where the siding meets another roof (like a porch roof) and deck/patio. Anywhere snow or rain might collect. A better quality vinyl will be heavier and less likely to warp, but other than that vinyl is vinyl.

I completely understand having to look for houses that have been muddled with. I live in a rural community with lots of old simple farmhouses. People don't necessarily consider the details on a simple farmhouse worth keeping and just want to update their house. My MIL is one of them having grown up on a farm and now loves all things modern, LOL! Vinyl is actually not the only type of siding redo here. There is fake brick (kind of like asphalt shingles), asbestos shingles, and aluminum.

Thank you Molly and kimkitchy for the kind complements. When we moved in I could see where the windows, trim and porch should be and I took a ton of pictures. Then we finally had enough to change out the windows. We were 3/4 the way through the project when I got a chance to talk with a man in his 80's who grew up in our house. What a wealth of information! He even had a picture of the old porch. He said the house was always white and had some sort of darker color for trim. The porch did have a bit more detail with Italianate influence that I'm now going to figure out how to add. Also the entire house had slate roof tile (WAY out of our price league :(). I kept the porch wood so I could add detail or paint different colors when I figure out what I'm doing. I hated the old windows, but what I didn't know is how many other people didn't like them either. We live in a small rural community (DH and I both grew up here) and I can't tell you how many people have been complementing and saying how much better it looks.

Boy this became a book! Sorry.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 9:40PM
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marys1000

mom2 don't apologize! Your pictures and story are enlightening and interesting. I think your place is looking great. I was wondering, when you say I could see where the windows, trim and porch should be - was that because you could actually see where they had filled in when they changed things from before? Because I've seen that too, where you can see that the wood is newer because they made the windows a different size. Or that you knew how it should look from having seen houses like it before?
I appreciate the info on vinyl. One of the often many reasons I haven't bought any of these old places is the vinyl (the other being I'm an older single woman and the work is often just daunting). One I can't stand it, not even on new homes, and two so much of it seems so poorly done I almost don't see the point. I thought that vinyl should have foam backing, weep holes and some other installation details if done "right". To just staple it on the wood just seems weird. Although the on the plus side I suppose it would make taking it off simpler with less cost for dumping.
I did briefly check out the link someone posted and the moisture issue was pretty scary, now I'm even more leery.
kim, thanks for your comments.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 5:43AM
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mom2lilenj

Yes that is what I mean, but additionally old farmhouses in my area have just a few "looks". Here is a picture of what it looked like with the siding off.

Weep holes are already in the vinyl and I know of none that doesn't have them. I personally think the biggest problem when vinyl is already installed (other than losing architectural features) is it can hide big problems. But there should be evidence of that inside the house too for someone who knows what to look for. To my limited experience, we haven't had any moisture problems. Because I think the vinyl when installed correctly isn't tight against the house and flashing is put on all windows, doors, porch roofs, back steps (8' long stone steps that WILL become our main entrance if it kills me, LOL).

I also checked out that link, great stuff! Thank you jcin_los_angeles! I bookmarked it, because I would love to bring this old house back to it's former great self. Mary1000, I think just because it has vinyl you don't have to eliminate it from a potential home. It could just be a diamond in the rough!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 11:07AM
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happycthulhu

Mary, I would suggest that you also learn to read the entire post before responding.
I didn't say that you were all for vinyl and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
What you did say was that you were in the wrong forum for your question and I agreed.
We are friendly so please step down from that high horse. The air is thin up there.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:09PM
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marys1000

mom2 - thanks for the before picture - that's amazing. I had to keep scrolling back and forth. You can see the shadow of the old porch. I can appreciate what you've done far more now. Like the dog too.

happy said:
you're in the wrong forum if you came here expecting us to extol the virtues of vinyl siding.
That's not what owning an old house is about.
Vinyl is an evil that should never be put on an older home, or any home for that matter.

The tone of your post did way more than just agree sweetheart. I suggest you take your own advice.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:30PM
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happycthulhu

Well, good luck then.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 5:31PM
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