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19 Things to Know Before Installing Vinyl Siding on Your Home

Collage photo of Things to Know Before Installing Vinyl Siding on Your Home.

Lots of houses have vinyl siding. There are many good reasons to opt for vinyl siding instead of other home exterior options.

Like pretty much every home improvement option, material and item, there are pros and cons to it. Because it’s not cheap to put up vinyl siding on your house, choosing to do so requires careful deliberation.

This vinyl siding guide can help. We set out 20 things to know before installing vinyl siding. Here they are.

1. It’s a second skin for your house

View from the front of a ranch-style new built home with blue vinyl siding and a yard.

Vinyl siding is the first line of defence against the elements. It also dictates the appearance of your home’s exterior. This is why it’s so important – it serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. It’s made from polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC) and designed to look like regular wood siding.

2. 8 signs your house needs new siding of some kind

Go and look at your existing siding to see if it needs replacing. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Fungi growing,
  2. Gaps in the seams;
  3. Cry/cracking/missing caulking;
  4. Delamination;
  5. Boards no longer properly attached to your house (separating or worse yet, falling down);
  6. Chipped paint;
  7. Swelling; and
  8. Moisture inside your house.

3. It helps insulates against hot and cold

Elegant double gable roof with horizontal blue vinyl siding, vertical siding, and shingles. White ornamental corbels.

New vinyl siding contributes to insulating and moderating your home’s interior temperatures helping to keep it warm when it’s cold outside and keeping it cool when hot outside. Of course, vinyl siding on its own won’t provide total temperature control, but it helps.

4. You don’t necessarily need to remove current siding first

While you certainly can remove existing siding, it’s not necessary to apply new vinyl siding to your home. This helps keep installation costs lower.

5. Take pictures off the walls when vinyl siding is being installed

When you install vinyl siding, there can be some banging, rattling and pounding going on that can rattle interior walls. While no permanent damage will be done (unless someone screws up), the jostling can knock photos and pictures off walls.

6. It can be more effective to simply repaint

Man using brush to manually clean vinyl siding.

While vinyl siding is great, it’s not always the most cost-effective. If you plan to move within 3 years, you’re probably better off repainting because you won’t recoup the additional cost of new siding within that time.

However, if your current wood siding is warped or the paint is lead-based, then painters (or you) will need to strip the paint which adds a lot of time and/or cost to repainting. In this situation you may better off financially speaking, to install new vinyl siding.

7. Many colors to choose from

Initially, vinyl siding only came in beige or bland pastel colors. However, with advancements in vinyl siding technology and manufacturing, you can get much richer, deeper and brigher colors. This is a very exciting development.

8. Withstands winds up to 110 mph

Most vinyl siding is rated to withstand winds up to 110 mph. That will do the job in most areas unless a serious hurricane hits your home. That said, if wind rips some strips off, vinyl siding is reasonably easy to reinstall. In fact, you can find specialty vinyl siding that can withstand winds up to 240 mph.

9. Measured in “squares” of siding

Concrete flooring and gray vinyl wood cladding on the front entrance's façade.

When you get quotes or talk to professionals and retailers, the terminology used for amount of siding is called a “square” of siding. One square of siding is 100 square feet of siding. Individual square feet is not used as a measurement.

10. Easy to clean

One very common question is “how to clean vinyl siding?”. It’s easy.

In fact, power washing is not recommended (phew). Instead, use less water pressure. A regular garden hose will do along with a soft-bristled brush and diluted solutions of Fantastik or Windex. A mix of 30% vinegar and 70% water will do the job as well.

11. Fall and winter can be the best time to install vinyl siding

Yes, installers can put up new vinyl siding year-around. Because few people do it in the fall and winter, installer are more readily available and you may be able to get a good deal.

12. How thick is vinyl siding?

Background and texture of vinyl siding in housing in a residential area.

It ranges from .035 to .055 inches. Better siding is .04 to .048 inches thick. The thicker the better.

13. It lasts a long time

Vinyl siding warranties range from 20 to 40 years, depending on thickness. Some manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties which can actually transfer to the next owner. It’s incredibly durable and is resistant to heat, cold and moisture.

14. Two main types vinyl siding

Other than color which dictates the appearance of vinyl siding, there are two main shapes or types:

  1. Shake: Cut into square or rectangular shapes and is layered vertically to give the impression of many layers of shingles.
  2. Horizontal:  long, think pieces and mounted side-by-side horizontally across the house.

15. Best siding value = good investment

Close-up of the vinyl siding texture on a new house.

In a 2015 Cost vs. Value report, new vinyl siding maintains more than 80% of its value, which is very high compared to other siding options and for home improvement projects in general.

16. No more painting – Yaaay!

You never need to repaint vinyl siding.

As set out above, you need only clean it once in a while with a garden hose, soft-brush and diluted cleaning solution.

17. Virtually indestructible

In the 1970s big improvements were made to vinyl siding so that it’s  now weather-proof, insect-proof, fade-resistant and under normal circumstances, virtually indestructible.

18. It’s eco-friendly for a number of reasons

  • helps to make a home more energy efficient;
  • almost no manufacturing waste;
  • very little installation waste – less than 1.9% of siding is waste.
  • lasts a long time – anything that lasts a long time and doesn’t need to be replaced is a good thing environmentally.
  • few resources to maintain it – it doesn’t require painting or caulking. It can be cleaned with vinegar and water.
  • releases lower levels of toxic chemicals into the environment.

19. How much does vinyl siding cost?

It varies a lot, but $2 to $8 per square foot (that’s $200 to $700 per square). That includes installation. That’s less than engineered wood siding, brick, wood siding, stucco and stone.

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