Vinyl Siding: Good or Bad?

Deb-DesignsMay 25, 2014

We are in the process of researching Vinyl siding for our home. We currently have aluminum siding.

It seems to be the "state of the Art" in siding choices, however, covering the majority of my house in plastic just troubles me.

I have heard good and bad about cement board, and it may not be in our budget.

I also have an issue with the flammability issues. It does get very dry here in Northern Illinois.

Any thoughts or suggestions please.

Suggested brands/lines would be appreciated as well.

Thank you

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Why change from the aluminum siding? Unless you go to insulated metal siding---which is what our house has. Minimal maintenance(no idea how old the siding is--at least 30 years if not more), but it looks quite good. And the insulation is great---muffles exterior sounds as well as the heat/cool advantage.

My experience---from working with vinyl and Hardi products for 7 years on Habitat for Humanity houses:

At least two different types. Main difference is the thickness of the material.
The thinner material is less durable by far. Warps under intense sun(south exposure) and can degrade over time.
The thicker material lasts longer and looks better.
Both types subject to damage---weed eaters and thrown objects from lawn mowers.
Repair is possible---simply remove siding (from top) to the damage and replace damaged piece, then replace the removed siding.
Easy installation with minimal tools necessary. That means installation charges will be less.

Has to be installed correctly or can come loose in harsh weather. That means over house wrap and at least an inch thick layer of foam board, with each locking joint securely joined.

Composite cement siding(Hardi):

Comes in several forms, sheet, lap siding(several exposure widths), and can be shaped(fish scale/etc.) for gable end techniques, or installed at angles or in patterns.

Has to be painted and should be sealed with caulking(prevents water wicking into cut pieces and ends).

Requires special tools, electric cutters, air nailers(unless the more labor intensive use of screws is done), and caulking. That means much more installation costs.

I can go back and look at HfH houses I helped build 20 years ago, with vinyl and Hardi products. The main difference is how the home owners maintained the property. Occasional washing(vinyl) or repainting(Hardi) means the siding looks good still. Failure to maintain means the siding is degraded.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:47AM
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They both have their place. I would opt for the Hardi if possible because It looks like wood, lasts a lifetime and can be painted. I'm not sure how long the factory paint lasts but think it is a long time.

I have read to find someone experienced and also because the dust can be hazardous they must know how to contain it. But all construction dust is hazardous so I'm not sure there is need for alarm. Usually requires prolonged exposure.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:23PM
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If the installer has the proper tools---electric shears---there is almost no dust. The debris is chunks of material

The dust is caused by cutting the material with a saw---hand or power.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:41PM
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Wood outlasts all of them by centuries, and, best if all, it looks like wood!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:35AM
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I'm looking into vinyl as well. Quality vinyl can be an expense but from what I am reading if installed well, can be a good choice.
I've done a ton of reading and have heard reports of hardi problems, and have read accounts where people allege that support was lacking when they had issues.
Of course there also many, many pictures and accounts from people who have beautiful hardi covered homes and never a problem.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 6:00AM
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I just have never liked the look or feel of vinyl. I did my last house in cedar and had to repaint/stain every 4 yrs, over an 18 yr period. We are just finishing the re-model on the current house and used the Hardi Artisan Plank. The suggested Diablo saw blade cut it like butter and it went up easily with an pneumatic nailer and #8's. This is not a clapboard product. It it a full 5/8" thick and the ends are T &G. It lays very flat and looks great. We did not caulk the joints and I don't think it necessary with the T&G. Clapboards would probably require it, but I have no experience with it. I bought the pre-finished colored. 15 yr guarantee on the color. I'm in CA and did this primarily for fire prevention, but I have to say that we are really happy with it. I'll be finishing the front of the house beginning in mid-July and will get to play with some more of it. This was pricey, but it is an excellent product, in my experience.

FYI, After having successive good quality wood trim fail on the last house we went with Azek plastic trim. Surprisingly, that has gone well too.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 1:18PM
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The last five houses I helped build, I installed Hardi-plank on the walls with shingles on the gable ends. The stuff is horrible. Hard to work with and is so thin it's almost impossible to hide wall defects. I watched a small cut piece literally turn to mush after two days on the ground in partial standing water in a steady rain. My boss and I decided at that point we would never put it on our houses.

I chose LP Smartlap for my house. It's composite wood, cuts like wood, 16' lengths, and looks really close to wood siding, plus it's pre-primed. Friends in the business were shocked. Didn't I know about LP's problems with siding in the past. Yes, I knew, but that was over 20 years ago. I guessed by now they had figured out how to do it right.

So far, its been the best siding I have ever worked with. The paint still looks like new with no evidence of warping, flaking, or chipping. When I started the job in summer 2011, I placed a triangular-shaped piece about 1 inch long out on my patio, curious to see how long it lasted. It's still there and has not deteriorated in any way except for a small crack on one corner. I still can't break even a small piece off it with my fingernail. It gets eight months of rain and weeks of direct sun and freezes and snow. I am quite impressed.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 11:54PM
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We sided our house (traditional tudor with dark wood siding and brick) with vinyl two years ago. We accented with vinyl "cedar shakes".

It looks fantastic! I would never replace the wood with something else that needs to be painted.

Many houses in our 30 year old neighborhood are now going vinyl.

The choices in colors are fantastic and you can really change the look of your house.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:51AM
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I will let you know how it goes but I'm having Mastic vinyl lap siding with vinyl 'cedar' shakes at the gable ends put on soon.
I found an experienced company and am really looking forward to seeing how my home looks when they are done.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 8:19PM
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