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Not All Vinyl Siding is the Same

When chlorine and ethylene gas are combined they produce a fine white powder. This powder, called vinyl resin, can then be mixed and melted with a variety of different additives. Depending on what’s added the resulting compound can be as flexible as a shower curtain or as stiff as a pipe. And it can be made durable enough to withstand the heavy foot traffic people usually have on their kitchen floors.

Vinyl has also become the most popular siding material in the United States. Now, the so called virgin vinyl siding, uses additives that make them even more flexible and UV resistant than their predecessors. Although some manufacturers say that their products are 100% virgin the reality is that most siding’s made with a core of remelted vinyl that’s be coated with virgin vinyl material.

One thing that is common to all vinyl siding that is contrary to most people’s beliefs is that vinyl siding is actually less prone to trap moisture than wood siding.  

How "Real" Do You Want Your Vinyl Siding to Look?

Most vinyl siding is extruded through a die. Panels fabricated like this can be virtually any length and the panels look quite good.

However, if you want your siding to have the crispest edges and the deepest patterns then it has to be molded from a more expensive vinyl called polypropylene. These molded panels are also usually not more than four feet long.

How Stiff Do You Want Your Siding to Be?

Thin panels, or those without support, are more likely to sag over the course of time. The thinnest vinyl panels that will meet code are .035 inches thick. Premium siding is from .044 to .048 inches thick, although a number of manufacturers also sell siding that’s .055 inches thick.

Although a thicker siding tends to be stiffer and thus more sag resistant, the stiffness also depends on other characteristics. The stiffest panels tend to have a relatively deep profile. They also have a folded over doubled nail hem. Narrow clapboards are also more bend resistant.

The main reason you would want to have stiff siding is that when there’s a high wind thin sidings can be sucked off a house. If you live where there’s the possibility of heavy weather, such as hurricane-prone Florida, make sure to read the manufacturer’s warranty. That will give you a pretty good indication of how well the siding will be able to withstand heavy winds. Some sidings now comply with Miami’s 148 mph wind code.

One siding called "Wolverine Millennium" even comes with a "won’t blow off" warranty. When it’s properly nailed in it should even withstand 180 mile per hour winds.

One thing that is common to all vinyl siding that is contrary to most people’s beliefs is that vinyl siding is actually less prone to trap moisture than wood siding. That’s because the butts of the panels have tiny weep holes built into them. And because vinyl siding has to be hung loosely to allow it to expand and contract, air will be able to readily move behind it.

Just like when wood siding is installed, you should have your contractor first install flashing and either builder’s felt or housewrap before installing the siding.

And since a top quality installation depends on the quality of your contractor, make sure to get their credentials, references, and certifications before you hire them.

Not All Vinyl Siding Is The Same,
part of our article series in the Siding category.
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