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Vinyl Siding Ultimate Guide

Your Ultimate Guide to Vinyl Siding

Re-siding your home can give it a completely different appearance that will last for years to come, but make sure you understand your options and make your decision carefully.

Key takeaways: Here are the main things to remember about vinyl siding:

  • It’s an inexpensive product
  • It stands up to the elements but isn’t the most durable option
  • Countless colors are available
  • Installation is relatively simple
  • Vinyl siding isn’t a good insulator
  • The product can melt

We live in an exciting time for homeowners because there are more siding options on the market than ever before. However, each material has positives and negatives to consider. 

If you’re looking at vinyl siding, you probably know that it’s a plastic-like material that feels a little flimsy to the touch but actually stands up very well over the years. It also takes next to zero maintenance, making it an advantageous product for busy homeowners.

At the same time, there are other options worth looking at because, once you install new siding, it should last for decades to come.

Here’s what you should know about vinyl siding before deciding on whether or not it’s the right product for your home.

Why is vinyl siding so popular?

The popularity of vinyl siding goes hand-in-hand with its durability, curb appeal, and cost. 

Despite being a thin material, vinyl is durable. It’s also relatively easy to repair when damaged because you can remove a plank and replace it with another one. Generally, vinyl siding lasts for decades and can withstand the elements, including heavy winds and hail impacts.

Vinyl siding is also rot-resistant, virtually maintenance-free, and doesn’t rapidly fade with exposure to the sun.

As far as curb appeal goes, there’s a solid variety of colors from which to choose. These colors can even mimic the appearance of other materials, like wood, stone, and brick. This versatility can help you avoid that plastic siding appearance that turns some homeowners off the product. 

Vinyl siding doesn’t chip or peel, so your home will keep its well-maintained appearance long after the installation. You won’t have to repaint it as you do with wood, saving time and money in the long run (even if it locks you into a look for the foreseeable future).

Vinyl is affordable compared to other options on the market, too, allowing owners to alter their home’s appearance without breaking the bank. 

While there is stiff competition when selecting a siding material and brand, the benefits of going with vinyl make it worthy of your consideration.

Cons of vinyl siding

Although vinyl siding is widespread and isn’t a product that you should automatically discount when selecting a material, it has some concerns.

For example, despite vinyl looking good from the street, homebuyers might view it as a lower-quality material than HardiePlank or PVC panels. It doesn’t look like wood, which some might see as a negative. This issue could cause problems when trying to sell your home, particularly if comparable properties in your neighborhood have higher-end siding. 

Vinyl siding doesn’t look bad, but other products often look better. 

Another issue is vinyl siding’s installation process. Your contractor must hang it loosely because it expands and contracts with the weather. If you’ve ever pushed on vinyl siding, you’ll feel some give as a result of its installation.

This installation can cause problems if high winds get behind the siding and damage it. The looseness also makes vinyl siding more prone to damage from debris blowing during a storm. The material is still durable; it just might run into problems because of the way it’s installed.

You should also know that the process used to make vinyl siding is toxic, despite creating little waste. This poisonous nature means it can be dangerous to the environment, or even your health if it catches on fire and you breathe it in. 

We’re now seeing some homes with energy-efficient windows running into an entirely new set of problems with vinyl siding: These windows reflect sunlight, and the heat they generate can melt the material. When you factor in the product’s toxic potential, it becomes obvious why more homeowners are opting for HardiePlank. 

Finally, there’s the energy-efficiency of vinyl, which falls behind other products on the market. However, you can go with an insulated vinyl, which provides an additional layer of protection against the elements.

Estimating your vinyl siding cost

The cost of your vinyl siding will depend on the amount you require and the complexity of your installation. You have two options for installation: Hire a contractor or do it yourself.

Keep in mind that when installing your own siding, you’ll be responsible for ordering the right amount, which could cause problems. 

If you order too much, you’re on the hook to pay for it or, potentially, re-sell it. At the same time, ordering too little leaves the job unfinished until you can have more delivered. 

When going with a contractor to handle the entire job, you’re leaving less to chance, potentially saving you time and money. The contractor will estimate the square footage required for the job by measuring each section’s length and width. Then, the two numbers are multiplied together and divided by 144. 

For a more accurate measurement, the contractor will also calculate out areas that don’t need siding, such as windows and doors. 

Although the final price may vary depending on the job, vinyl is the most cost-efficient product on the market and can save you some cash.

Installing vinyl siding

Before installing your vinyl siding, your house must be prepared for the job. This process starts by removing your old siding, tying back any trees that could get in the way, and removing any obstacles that could make the installation dangerous. Preparing your yard is essential, even if you’re using a contractor to remove your old siding and install the new stuff.

Keep in mind that it’s best to wait for a moderate day to begin your installation. Cold temperatures can make vinyl siding brittle and more difficult to cut, while extreme heat can soften the material. 

The temperature could also cause your vinyl siding to contract or expand, affecting the final installation.

If you use a contractor who has experience with vinyl siding, the job is relatively straightforward and will cause minimal disruption in your life.

Those who go the DIY route will have to gather the right tools to complete the job before anything else, and the list of tools you’ll need is quite long. It includes a power saw with a vinyl-cutting blade, tin snips, shingle nails, a hammer or nail gun, a pry bar, pliers, and more.

In addition to the vinyl siding itself, you’ll need to gather and install fittings like flashing, starter strips, corner moldings, J-channels, and soffit covers. You’ll also need foam boards if you plan to install your vinyl product over existing siding.

For the actual installation, start at the bottom and work your way up. You’ll have to install a level starting strip and then set each course of vinyl overlapping the one below it, nailing the rows into place along the way. The installation is time-consuming if you’ve never done it before.

You take a lot of the guesswork, and actual work, out of the equation by hiring a contractor who can handle the installation for you.

Are There Alternatives?

If you’ve read this guide and are thinking about re-siding your home, there are some alternatives worth considering, too. 

These products tend to cost a bit more than vinyl, but they provide even better curb appeal and are often more durable, particularly if you have energy-efficient windows.

HardiePlank is perhaps the most popular siding material on the market today, and with good reason. This fiber cement product offers outstanding aesthetics and is more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient than vinyl, as well.

You will find that HardiePlank is more challenging to install, which could increase its costs, but the benefits outweigh any problems you’ll encounter along the way.

Another alternative to vinyl siding is cellular composite PVC. This technology has only been around for about a decade, but it’s quickly becoming a mainstay in the industry. The best thing about cellular PVC is that it closely resembles the appearance of wood but is virtually maintenance-free. These qualities allow you to re-create a classic look for your home without having to worry about repainting or staining the product every few years. 

PVC is also exceptionally durable, energy-efficient, and easy to install, eliminating many of the problems associated with vinyl while keeping its benefits.

Speak with a siding expert

Before selecting the perfect house siding to meet your needs, it’s a good idea to go over your options with a professional. That way, you’ll be entirely sure that the product you’re selecting gives your home the look you want and the durability to stand the test of time.
Blue Nail Roofing can assist you every step of the way as you choose the perfect siding style and color for your home. We can go over each material with you and discuss whether vinyl is the way to go or if you’d be better off with something else. Contact us today to set up your free siding consultation.

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