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Problems with vinyl siding

Problems with vinyl siding

If you are like many homeowners, you would love to have siding on your home that does not need to be painted; so vinyl seems like a natural choice. Unfortunately it becomes very easy to select the wrong type of vinyl siding, which can lead to warping, buckling, cracking, fading, chalking, waving, etc..

Vinyl siding has it's pros and cons, like any material. It's pros usually outweight the cons, which is why it's become the most popular choice in America for exterior siding.

What the reasons some people have problems with vinyl siding?

The simple answer to this question is narrowed down to two results: Product and Installation quality.

Installation Quality:

Even if you have selected a higher grade of siding, if the installation isn't done properly, you will definitely see problems arise in the future. Vinyl siding tends to look great the first year that it is installed. This is why it is so popular for contractors to install, it's very difficult for it NOT to look good when it's installed. The problems tend to arise in the future, most likely after a year or two of changing seasons which at that point, the contractor is long gone.

Siding is affixed to your home by "hanging" it. This is the important concept of installing vinyl siding, because it's what prevents it from buckling due to changing temperatures. Vinyl siding isn't very rigid because of how thin it is and the fact that it is plastic. As the temperature changes during the year, building materials shrink and swell, that causes the siding to move (as well as the home itself). If you were to nail the siding on tight, it will buckle. This mistake happens all the time with do-it-yourself homeowners as well as inexperienced or careless installers.


About 65% of homeowners who contract siding installed on their house hire a contractor to do so. When you hire a contractor, you are hiring an installer, not a consultant. This means that you probably will not receive much information that will help you select the right type of siding on your home.

If you do not have the right information about particular brands of siding or installation methods, you stand a good chance of having problems. The contractor will most likely supply the cheapest siding (since you didn't specifiy what exactly you wanted) and will use the quickest installation methods possible (often resulting in problems down the road). It is very important to have good information given to you about the brands of siding available and the way it will be installed, this is why it's almost always better to hire a company that specializes in siding and can provide service after the sale, install it according to the manufacturers instructions, and one that doesn't mind sitting down with you and explaining the products in detail so that you know exactly what you're getting.

Product Quality

The quality and features of a vinyl siding panel can vary. All siding are not the same! Most homeowners call a contractor who then will take brief measurements and ask you which color you want and maybe show you a brochure if you are lucky. You'll pick a color and he will leave an estimate.

The problem is, this would be just like if car dealer came to your home and just asked you what color car you wanted, and maybe how many doors. You would only be getting basic information and you would almost surely get the cheapest car he could find because you didn't specify anything yourself. When people spend over $10,000 on a car, they will often research the brand and model they are looking for and know  what they want, right down to certain features and add-ons. When people spend over $10,000 on new siding for their home they often do it completely blind to whatever brand or model they are getting.

Product information that should be explained to you would consist of the following:

  1. Brand name of siding
  2. Model/Line name
  3. Gauge Thickness
  4. Color Samples
  5. Warranty Information
  6. Labor and Installation Guarantees
  7. Fading resistance and warranty
  8. Installation methods
  9. Manufacturer History
  10. Source of materials (American or Imported?)
  11. Exposure widths (wide panels or narrow?)
  12. Style (clapboard, dutch lap, shake, vertical, etc...)
  13. Contractor history
  14. Time frame, project start and completion estimate
  15. Trim details (wrapping opening frames?)
  16. Ventilation application/procedure
  17. Removal of existing siding or side-over?
  18. Backer insulation options
  19. Flashing and moisture drainage techniques
  20. Clean up, disposal, and delivery information
  21. Pricing (and whether it will be fixed or may go up during job)

These are just some of the important topics that should be explained to you by a competent siding professional. The average contractor gives estimates during their time in between jobs, making the entire process less than 20 minutes including measuring your home. How can all this important information be explained to you within that kind of time? It can't.

If you are going to consider new siding on your home, you should set aside 45 minutes to an hour of time and seek a company that specializes in exterior renovation (siding, windows, doors) rather than the do-it-all type contractors.

You wouldn't hire a gynecologist to do a heart surgery would you?

Hire an expert for your next home improvement project you are considering.

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