Where functionality, aesthetics, and cost are equal concerns when building a home vinyl siding makes sense. But nothing seems to draw a line in the sand faster than the topic. It’s popular with consumers because it’s the most inexpensive cladding material available. However, it’s less popular with architects, builders, and other construction industry professionals because many feel that vinyl siding has more cons than pros. To help you decide if vinyl siding is right for your home here are the top four reasons it is a somewhat controversial choice.
Nothing about vinyl siding could be considered eco-friendly. In the manufacturing of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), greenhouse gasses and carcinogens are produced. Sulfur dioxide, a by-product of vinyl siding production, is the main cause of acid rain and smog. Studies are inconclusive regarding toxicity during regular use but do consistently show that when vinyl siding catches fire or is subjected to intense heat, lethal amounts of toxic fumes are released.
Under certain conditions vinyl siding is very durable – the longer it lasts, the longer it is kept out of landfills. Technically it can be recycled. However, most vinyl siding ends up not being recycled because many depots don’t accept it due to its high handling costs.
The longevity and general appearance of vinyl siding largely depend on climatic conditions. While manufacturers maintain that vinyl siding can last anyway from 25 to 30 years, opponents claim that there is no conclusive proof because siding made of vinyl has been known to crack, fade or split within 10 years of being installed depending on environmental factors.
Considered to be low maintenance, since it doesn’t have to be painted or repaired, vinyl siding can easily be washed with a mild cleaning solution. While some detractors say vinyl siding can’t be repaired, it actually depends on the type. Some manufacturers produce vinyl siding panels that can be easily snapped in or out of place.
Fake is fake – regarding older, historic, and landmark homes, opponents of vinyl siding cite inauthenticity as its greatest crime.
Since vinyl siding imitates other siding materials including stone and wood, it provides homeowners with inexpensive siding options. For those who own an older home, maintenance costs are automatically higher, so a siding material that looks like wood, is easy to install, and simple to maintain is an ideal budget-stretcher.
Vinyl siding is the number one choice of do-it-yourselfers. Detractors of this siding material point out that it needs to be installed properly in order for it to fully protect a house. Most opponents feel that DIYers and contractors not specifically trained and certified to install vinyl siding do not have the right skills, potentially allowing water to seep in and water damage to occur.
Vinyl siding is inexpensive and easy to install, relevant factors to someone with a large home. But the naysayers are right – vinyl as a siding material contracts and expands. While it’s fairly simple to install, the installer, whether a DIYer or a contractor, must be aware that if nailed incorrectly, during an expanding-contracting cycle, the siding could crack, bulge or warp.