Is vinyl siding a good choice for my home? 

If new siding is in your future, vinyl siding can be an economical and low-maintenance choice to clad the exterior of your home. A large part of vinyl's appeal is the wide array of horizontal, vertical and architectural style choices. Becoming familiar with vinyl siding is the first step toward making a more informed decision about whether it is the right choice for your home. 

In today's market, vinyl siding goes beyond what we have seen in the past. Some vinyl products come in styles that mimic the look of stone, brick, wood and log siding. For those in colder climates, vinyl siding is available in an insulated variety which adds both efficiency and durability. When considering vinyl siding, keep in mind that you have to like the look - not everyone does. Also keep in mind that not all vinyl is created equally. You will need to consult with a professional to identify a product that is right for your home, and choose a competent contractor, as the proper installation of vinyl siding is as important as the quality of the product. 

There are different grades and efficiencies of vinyl siding products, each with their own price point. Less expensive products not only cost less but they can also look cheaper. Premium vinyl siding offers better quality, but can ultimately cost as much as other non-vinyl siding choices. 

One of the important things to keep in mind about vinyl siding is that there are visible seams. The typical length of siding is 12 feet long, however longer lengths are available. Before you decide that 24-foot vinyl siding is the way to go, remember that the longer the siding piece, the more flexible it is. To counter this flexibility contractors will suggest a better quality vinyl that is thicker, and has heftier flanges and nailing hems which helps it stay more rigid. 

In addition to the siding itself there are multiple selections of trim pieces to choose from. In fact, a wise selection of trim can sometimes do a better job camouflaging the fact that a house is sided in vinyl. That's because some of the more detailed and substantial trim options do a better job of looking like wood trim. This include the addition of fluted corner posts, window and door mantels, dentil moldings, window crowns and rosettes. Trim options also offer more design flexibility when it comes to creating or maintaining your home's architectural style, be it Georgian, Queen Anne, Victorian, Federal or Cape. 

Vinyl siding is available in a variety of colors. Just remember, most vinyl products are not designed to be painted so once you've chosen the product and color, you are stuck with it until you change it. Vinyl's flexible nature allows it to absorb impact better than more malleable materials like metal which can dent if struck hard enough. Given reasonable care and with some luck from Mother Nature vinyl siding can last for years. 

Although vinyl siding has some flexibility, it can crack if hit hard enough. That tendency gets magnified when the weather falls below freezing levels. Vinyl siding readily expands and contracts with temperature making good installation techniques a must for good looking siding. If the siding isn't installed correctly the siding can warp and buckle because it isn't allowed to "move" with the temperature. 

Vinyl can also melt, as may be the case when a BBQ grill is situated too close to the side of the house. Vinyl siding is not fireproof, and is not a good option for homes that are prone to seasonal brush fires and wildfires. The heat generated by close proximity to fire and the combustible nature of vinyl make it a hazardous choice in risky locales. 

So let's say you understand what vinyl house siding is all about and you're familiar with their high and low points. If you're going to choose vinyl, here's what you should look for. Thicker products are more rigid and robust and will stand up to knocks better than thinner products. Double hems make the panel more rigid and less prone to sagging and flexing and also offers greater resistance to failure from high winds. Deeper profiles on lap style siding provide bolder shadow lines offering a more convincing look of real wood. Manufacturers usually provide panel projection dimensions in their product information/specifications. Usually the better the grade of vinyl siding product the deeper the panel projection. 

A professional and qualified siding contractor will provide a written estimate with warranty terms and materials specifications. They will invite you to speak with past customers, and visit past and present projects they are working on, to provide you a better understanding of their work. Look at the quality of their work and check to see if the siding panels are even, and look symmetric around corners. Check the detailing around openings, and check for mitered corners and smooth caulking application. And lastly, check to see if the contractor maintains a clean work area. 

A contractor's expertise and experience are crucial to a good siding job. It is not only what you see on the outside that determines a good installation. It also requires proper preparation, an understanding of the efficiency you are looking for and the right accessories. Because of the nature of vinyl materials, even the most expensive siding will buckle and warp if not installed correctly. Experienced contractors are familiar with these products and in many cases, are certified by the manufacturer. 

For any questions about your remodeling project, you can contact HIC of Staten Island by e-mail at 

Michael Veneziale
Statwood Home Improvements
(718) 351-4600