Exterior siding can dramatically alter the look of your home. If you are looking to give your house a face lift at a reasonable price, vinyl siding is a viable option to consider. Out of all siding options available on the market, vinyl siding costs the least, while offering such benefits as durability, low maintenance and a wide range of style options to choose from. At the same time, vinyl siding does have its flaws, the main one being environmental and health concerns associated with the production of vinyl. Before making a decision to purchase vinyl siding it is important to consider all the pros and cons of this material.
How is vinyl siding manufactured?
vinyl siding is manufactured primarily from polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or resin. The mixture also contains impact modifiers, which make the vinyl resistant to cracking and denting. Moreover, stabilizers are also added to keep vinyl siding smooth and to reduce irregularities. Overall, about 20% of vinyl’s weight consists of a variety of ingredients that give the material its color, opacity, gloss, impact resistance, flexibility, and durability, while the remaining 80% is PVC resin itself. Once the PVC has been manufactured, it is melted and poured into molds to form siding. It is shaped to look similar to wood boards used on houses. Vinyl siding is manufactured in strips and has perforated holes at the top for fastening into the exterior wall, as well as interlocking flanges at the top and bottom to seal against weather.
Vinyl siding is the least expensive of all siding materials, which is the reason why it is the most popular siding material among home owners across the US. Additionally, because the vinyl siding industry keeps on growing, manufacturers try to stay a head of the curve by offering consumers such appealing free extras as gutters or window casting. Because of its low cost, vinyl siding is commonly used as retrofit siding, applied over wood siding in many home improvement projects.
Vinyl siding can stand up to most weather conditions without being severely damaged. Because of the growing demand for vinyl siding, the industry continues to improve the durability of material- newer vinyl is actually stronger than the older versions and is less likely to crack or become brittle. The quality of vinyl siding varies, with the most durable and long lasting material being one that is most thick. Thickness of vinyl siding can range from 35 mil (cheapest grade) to 40 mil (builder’s grade), up to 52 mil (highest possible premium grade).
Another factor that affects vinyl’s durability is the UV coating. This special coating is applied in the manufacturing process to filter out UV spectral light from the sun which would otherwise degrade the PVC more quickly. As a general rule, the higher the grade and the price for vinyl siding, the more resistant it will be to UV light, and will fade a lot slower than lower grades.
Overall, new vinyl siding does not fade as quickly as older vinyl, because the pigmentation is baked through instead of applied to the surface. This also means that vinyl will not show scratches. If you choose to go with the lower grade cheaper vinyl siding, you can expect to see some fading after about five years.