The Exterior Connection Blog

The Exterior Connection Blog

Green Choices In Siding Products

Wood: especially if local, salvaged, or engineered from farmed, fast-growing tropical wood.  It may last over 100 years, and can be recycled. Not Cheap!

Steel: more than aluminum; recycled, some brands 100% recycled (Rollex). Six old cars might cover a 2000 sf house, while wood might require an acre of trees!                Durable, low maintenance, cheapest to install but easy to dent

Composites:

  • EcoClad is from paper and bamboo;
  • Trex durable, colorfast
  • Polymer Ash—toxic but gets rid of coal
  • Fly Ash; bug proof, dirt proof
  • LP Wood-Polymer—maybe but breaks down easily; possible recyclable
  • FiberCement= wood, cement, polymer; bug proof, not dirt-, mold proof

Brick—a lot of energy to make it, but durable and recyclable. Increases value ASAP

Stone—Local, natural stone cheaper than brick, and durable.  Poor insulation, recyclability

Insulated vinyl siding—inert and durable once made; not really flammable; not really recyclable; but saves on energy bills immediately. 50+ year life

From sidingestimator.org and other nearby sites found on Google.

Why is Hardie Plank more popular than Vinyl Siding, lately?

It beats me!  I try to keep a practical outlook on life, figuring that you get what you pay for, but that there is no need to spend bundles on something simple.

As a contractor specializing in vinyl siding, I talk to a lot of people who want to improve the appearance (and value) of their home, while decreasing the expense and frequency of maintenance.  Lately I have had many more people ask for Hardie Plank/Board than vinyl, even though the costs to purchase and install it are higher. Costs are almost double the cost of vinyl, and exceed the expenses for wood and composite siding.

I am a practical guy, and have had a house with cedar or composite siding myself.  I stumbled onto a house with stucco, otherwise I would have preferred to have a house with lifetime vinyl siding which is inexpensive, low maintenance, and NEVER NEEDS PAINTING.

My partner and I feel that vinyl got a bad name due to BAD VINYL, that is vinyl that was not designed sturdy enough, nor designed to withstand 300 local Sunny days nor the occasional extremely cold winters we have in the area.  On the West side, I have found very thin vinyl that would fade and become brittle if used here.  We prefer using thicker vinyl designed for the area by the world’s oldest company to make vinyl siding, and who GIVE IT A LIFETIME WARRANTY. (Mastic, an offshoot of Alcoa Aluminum)

Hardie plank is sturdy and fairly resistant to sun and moisture. It is made for only two zones, HZ 5 and HZ 10.  They recommend HZ 5 for northern areas, and HZ 10 for Southern, Hot, and Humid areas.  The HZ 5 is not a very good match for our area which experiences even more heat than southern areas, though without the humidity. THE WARRANTY FOR Hardie is LIMITED TO CERTAIN STATES OR CERTAIN ZIPCODES,  AND ELEVATIONS BELOW 2000 FEET.  (Local zipcodes are included.)

The Warranty is PRORATED AFTER THE FIRST YEAR on most products (still working on regular warranty that is NOT prorated), and is VOIDED if there is any problem with storing, shipping, or installation; or if there is contact with soil or water at the base of the house; or if the house settles. It is VOIDED for IMPROPER MAINTENANCE: for example, failure to sand and paint immediately with acrylic, if color is not baked-on. THERE IS NO COVERAGE FOR MOLD OR MILDEW. IT MUST BE BRUSHED AND CLEANED EVERY 6-12 MONTHS, PAINTED EVERY 5-7 YEARS, OR THE WARRANTY IS VOID.

Patch kits are available, but the WHOLE PLANK MUST BE REPLACED if the damage is BIGGER THAN A DIME. Problems must be REPORTED within 30 DAYS, protected and NOT repaired, for warranty, and only THEY are the judge of “excessive fading.”

WE WILL APPLY IT, IF YOU INSIST ON INSTALLING THIS STUFF, however!

Home Improvements = Good Investments

Most people realize that certain improvements are a good "investment" if you are planning to sell your home soon.

What about a value for your house if you plan to keep it for a few years?  People think in turns of a Return on Investment or "ROI."  Fixing the kitchen or updating baths will probably pay off, if you sell.  Putting in solar power or heating will surely pay off within about seven years, even on the rainy side of the mountains, according to my latest reading.  It may be sooner on the "Sunny Side" where I have lived most of my life.  For an immediate return, or at least, immediate savings, have you considered new exterior vinyl siding installation?

You may say, "My house is already insulated!"  But, I learned recently that you have probably overlooked something important.  Take the example of a house of about 1800 square feet (30' x 60').  I can show you figures which demonstrate that you are Missing Insulation on the 130-plus two-inch studs on the typical stick-built house. This leaves you a total gap of over ten feet in your insulation!  That is a pretty large hole!  The only way to compensate for this is a "Wrap" around the whole house.  And why not put on siding that you will never have to paint again?!  My last house had siding that had to be touched up twice a year!  I miss the house and yard, but not the painting!!

Most new construction seems to use a moisture barrier wrap like Tyvek.  It really provides no insulation, and it may allow some moisture to enter, as well as to leave your house.  (I will have more to say about moisture from inside your house in another edition of this blog).

We prefer a foam- and foil-based insulation wrap that allows moisture to escape, but with much less ability to enter your house.  For those of you concerned about all the radiation around us from cell phones and towers, the foil covering of our wrap (like Fome-Core, which is a brand we have used) is an excellent shield from the radiation from power lines and cell towers. This foam is (only) about six times as thick as your coffee cup, but much thinner than any other types of insulation.  It is folded, up to fifty feet in length.  This leaves few gaps around your house--four or five for that 1800 square-foot house, compared with about 135 stud gaps.

This investment in your home will save lots of time and trouble, and will likely save you 30 to 40% in energy costs year-round!  The savings from the best quality vinyl siding will go a long way toward your very affordable payments!

Value of Vinyl

Vinyl siding is resistant to stains, peeling, rot, and dents; and scratches are not easy to see.

People may worry about the flame resistance of vinyl, which is actually polyvinyl chloride or PVC.  It might melt, but it won't continue to burn without contact with the flame.

Vinyl ignites at about 700 degrees, Pine and paper ignite at around 450 degrees.  The fumes are not healthy to inhale,  but would tend to put the fire out.  The smoke is unhealthy, but there is less of it...The HCl it produces would create a warning smell or irritation long before a toxic amount can be inhaled.  This contrasts with carbon monoxide and CO2, the other products of burning PVC and any wood or paper products.  All three gases in the smoke tend to extinguish actual burning of the siding.

Firemen have felt that vinyl siding has helped to contain house fires, or to prevent an adjacent fire from involving the next house.  Of course the vinyl will sag and smoke where another siding would blister, peel or burn.

Airplane upholstery looks similar to vinyl fabrics, but it burns quickly and release phosgene gas, a poisonous gas that has been used in war but is now banned.

Vinyl siding is slightly insulating without our foam insulation.  It tends to protect from frost and condensation.  It is also an electrical insulator, so doesn't need to be grounded from lightning or stray electric lines in a wildfire situation.

It is available in almost any imaginable color—nonfading, and in many different textures and patterns.  And you don’t ever need to paint it!!!!

Isn’t Steel Siding Better?

It doesn’t burn…but vinyl burns very poorly, creating gases that tend to put out the flames.  The vapors are irritating—no silent poisoning is possible, unlike carbon monoxide from burning wood, kerosene, or diesel.

 

Steel will dent, and is more difficult to install neatly.  Damage would likely require replacement of an entire wall.  Vinyl is easy to repair or replace.

The coating on steel can occasionally be scraped off.  Vinyl color is through-and-through or at least molecularly bonded, not baked-on, painted, or enameled.  Scratches on vinyl are hardly visible.  Vinyl siding provides some insulation all by itself.

What about seamless steel siding, like seamless gutters?  Once again, steel siding is harder to install perfectly.  “Seamless” is not entirely seamless.  It usually comes in fifty-foot rolls.  A curbside shaper guided by a human is not at all comparable to roller mills controlled by computer.  The half-block long roller mill can delicately shape siding without cracking or scratching the colored finish.  It will create uniform pieces that will fit together perfectly during installation.

Not that we recommend steel siding, except for customer preference, or danger of wildfire.  Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed during the fire seasons of the last few years.  We certainly want to honor your choice of materials.

Moisture, the Invisible Homewrecker?

All houses have many sources of moisture, which can damage windows, interiors, exterior paint, and siding.  Protection is much better from outside moisture than inside moisture!

Sources of moisture: us humans, laundry, showers, cooking, humidifiers, gas heat or cooking.  It may come from the house itself:  wet plaster, or a wet or unexcavated basement.

Water vapor travels invisibly to drier areas and forms moisture or frost.  It may be on inside walls, on walls or ceiling, or as iceballs in an attic right below nails.  You may see water or ice on windows, moisture on the walls or floor of basements, or water blisters under the exterior paint.  This blistering can extend to damage the siding, making the paint peel; or cause rot, mildew, stained walls,  and sweaty windows.

Tyvek allows moisture to travel both ways.  Fome-cor allows mostly one-way travel, due to separate perforations. Remodelers often find moisture and rot under Tyvek--It is not completely resistant to water.  It would be little help under vinyl siding, especially in a wetter climate.