Is Vinyl Siding Right for You?

by Jane VanOsdol on April 14, 2011

The preference between vinyl siding or wood siding is still a much contested debate—wood enthusiasts argue that wood is just more esthetically pleasing than vinyl siding ever will be. Vinyl siding fans point to the low maintenance that vinyl siding requires when compared to its high-maintenance wood counterpart.

The low-maintenance factor is often what swings the pendulum in favor of vinyl siding and sometimes is what will convince those who just prefer the look of wood to go ahead and install vinyl siding anyway—as did This Old House contractor Tom Silva.

Even though Tom prefers wood, he just didn’t want the upkeep it required on his home. In case you’re considering installing vinyl siding, let’s consider some pertinent facts about it.

Benefits of Installing Vinyl Siding

  • Vinyl siding can be a superior, long-term performer. Choose wisely when buying vinyl siding and don’t go for the cheapest grade. The cheaper grades are prone to fading, while the mid-grade varieties hold their color well.  Also, be sure that your siding installer is experienced in vinyl. One of the worst mistakes to make with vinyl siding is to nail it tightly to the roof during installation. The panels need to be free to move, so the nail heads shouldn’t contact the hem, but should be left about 1/32 inch proud. If the panels are nailed too tightly, they can buckle from the heat in the summer. If the general contractor errs on the other side and nails the panels too loosely, they will rattle whenever the wind blows.
  • Vinyl siding has a color-through process, which means that vinyl siding never needs to be painted. You can say good-bye to the dreaded chores of sanding, scraping, priming and painting.
  • Vinyl siding is resistant to damage from termites and carpenter ants.
  • Vinyl siding is available in a variety of colors, styles and grains, so you should be able to find a product that is perfect for your home. If you love the rustic look, you may want to consider vinyl log siding. This type of siding has that rustic look you love, but is also durable, low maintenance, and installs just as easily as regular siding. It has the added benefits over wood of being waterproof, splinter-free and low maintenance.
  • Vinyl siding is cheaper than wood siding and aluminum siding, although the high-end grades of vinyl can rival the price of cedar siding. However, the overall price will still be lower because vinyl goes up easier and doesn’t need painting. Generally, a mid-grade vinyl runs about $1.60 per sq. ft., not including the trim. Do your homework by shopping around and comparing prices and grades.
  • The upkeep is easy on vinyl siding. Usually, all it requires is a mild soap and the garden hose to clean it. Many experts don’t recommend using a power washer because they feel it drives water behind the panels.

Final Consideration

A final consideration is that if you have an older home with lots of architectural detail, and you are considering going with vinyl siding, you’ll want to choose a contractor who is experienced in installing vinyl siding on older homes and can retain all the elements that you love about your home.

Overall, if you’re a person who wants a low-maintenance, long lasting siding for your home improvement project, vinyl siding may be the right fit for you.

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