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Exterior Cladding: Vinyl Siding

There are many different types of cladding or covering for the exterior of homes that give them their particular style and appeal.  Different cladding types have their own particular pros and cons, as well as maintenance issues.  Here are some facts and tips for homeowners whose homes have vinyl siding.

Homeowners, remodeling contractors and builders often choose vinyl siding as an alternative to wood and aluminum because it’s attractive, durable, easy to maintain, and cost-effective.  Vinyl siding is made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and is often textured to resemble wood or stone in a variety of colors.  Vinyl siding came into use as an exterior cladding in the late 1950s.  Today, it’s the most common choice for exterior cladding.

Advantages:

  • Vinyl siding is very durable.
  • It will last for decades when properly installed and maintained.
  • It will not fade.
  • It will not rust.
  • The outer layer contains pigment that adds color to the siding and resists breakdown from UV radiation from sunlight.  If scratched, the siding will reveal the same color as the unscratched exterior, so minor imperfections are not too noticeable.
  • As long as the siding has been properly installed, maintenance is very simple, limited mostly to spray-washing once a year or whenever necessary.

Disadvantages:

  • In extreme weather conditions, vinyl siding is susceptible to damage, as is any other type of siding.
  • In severe cold, vinyl siding can become brittle and more susceptible to cracking.
  • Extreme heat can also cause vinyl to melt or distort.  There are reported cases of sunlight reflected from nearby windows that has caused vinyl siding to warp and melt.
  • Vinyl siding is not a form of insulation—it is simply an exterior cladding.  However, some salespeople misrepresent this fact with claims that new siding will aid energy efficiency.  This is only true for siding that includes special insulating inserts or backings—not to the vinyl siding itself.
  • Vinyl siding is not a watertight covering, so check the inside occasionally for water intrusion if you’ve experienced heavy weather.
  • If a fire occurs, vinyl siding will melt or burn and may release toxic chemicals, making the situation more dangerous for the home’s occupants.  Some green advocates believe that PVC itself can have a negative impact on health, and there is much debate about these claims.

Tips for Homeowners:

  • Properly installed panels and accessories should move freely from side to side.
  • Drainage holes or slots in horizontal vinyl siding allow water behind the siding to drain and should not be covered or caulked.
  • Ripples in the siding can result from stapling or nailing through the face of the siding, which is an incorrect installation.  Distortion and buckling of panels may be caused by fasteners that were not driven straight and level.  If this happens, the homeowner should consult their builder’s warranty.
  • Exterior lights and other features should not be attached directly to the vinyl siding.  They should be secured to mounting blocks instead, since fasteners penetrating the siding will restrict the siding’s natural expansion and contraction.  Always use corrosion-resistant fasteners for any exterior installation.
  • Power-wash the exterior as often as necessary.
  • Check the condition of vinyl gutters and downspouts at least once a year.  While vinyl siding can last for 60 years, gutters and downspouts last around half as long, when properly installed and maintained.

Seasonal Maintenance Checklist: In the Spring

springhome

Spring has sprung!  March 20th was the first day of spring, so as you are spending more time outdoors, take a few minutes to address some Spring home maintenance items that will help to maintain the value of your investment:

  • Roof:  Check for damage to your roof.  Especially here in Oklahoma you should do this after each big spring storm.
  • Exterior Siding & Trim:  Check all the fascia and trim for deterioration and caulk as needed.
  • Masonry:  Check for masonry cracks or voids and tuck-point as needed.
  • HVAC:  Have an HVAC professional inspect and maintain your system as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Water Heater:  Check your water heater for leaks or rust.  Drain water heater tank to reduce sediment (consult a licensed plumber first if you have not been doing this annually for your water heater).
  • Fire Extinguishers:  Check you fire extinguishers.  I recommend you have one for your kitchen and garage.
  • Kitchen Exhaust:  Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter.
  • Concrete:  Repair all cracked, broken and uneven driveways and walks to help provide a level walking surface.
  • Plumbing:  Check the shutoff valves at the plumbing fixtures to make sure they function.
  • Dryer Exhaust:  Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and damper and the space under the dryer.  Ensure that your dryer is venting to the exterior and not to the attic or garage.
  • Gutters:  Clean gutters and downspouts.  Repair as necessary.  Make sure water is diverted from the home.
  • Filters:  Replace HVAC filters, water treatment system filters, water filter in the refrigerator, and any other filters as needed.
  • Concrete:  Pressure wash deck, drive, and walkways.
  • Exterior:  Walk exterior perimeter of house and check for potential entry points for critters.
  • Detectors:  Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

 

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175

homeruninspections@icloud.com
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