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SMwriter
04-13-2012, 09:07 AM
So is it really good or bad? What are the pros and cons to vinyl siding? Thanks!

Dana
04-13-2012, 12:20 PM
On the plus side:

* It's relatively inexpensive.

* The stuff has a life-cycle of decades.

* It doesn't need painting/repainting unless you can't tolerate the color, or modest fade over a couple of decades (people can and do paint the stuff, which sort of defeats the purpose)

* It's inherently back-ventilated, enhancing the drying capacity of the structural wall, reducing risk of mold & rot to sheathing & framing, (and eliminates the need for interior vapor barriers in much of NY state, but not the colder US climate zone 6 parts of upstate NY.)

* It can be installed fairly quickly.

OTOH...

* It can deform/melt in sunlight focused by your neighbor's low-E windows:

http://www.nachi.org/images10-2/melted-siding.jpg

* It produces toxic smoke in the presence of flame.

* It has a comparatively high embodied energy compared to alternative products.

* It has a higher air & water pollution factor in it's manufacture compared to the alternatives.

My personal preference: Painted wood clapboard or ship-lap siding, backprimered with acrylic-latex, over 3/4" deep vented rainscreen gap (1x furring holding the siding off the #15 felt or housewrap, with both top & bottom vented to the exterior) With a rainscreen gap & a painted back side, the moisture cycling of wood siding drops by a major fraction. The clapboards won't cup or split, and since paint blistering & flaking is primarily created by differences in water-vapor pressure between high-moisture content wood and the outdoor air under solar warming, by keeping the siding drier, the paint lasts longer (MUCH longer in most cases.) The relatively high water vapor permeance of latex-acryilics allows the moisture content of the wood to adjust gradually to the seasonal average without losing it's bond with the wood. By painting both the back and front sides and allowing air to convect behind the back, the drying rates are about the same front & back, lowering the mechanical stresses that might otherwise cause it to twist/cup/check.

With even 3/8" of rainscreen gap the enhancement to the drying capacity of the structural wall exceeds that of vinyl siding. Wood grows on trees. Wood in construction material is sequestered carbon. Wood is nice stuff to work with. I like wood. YMMV.

SMwriter
04-13-2012, 01:35 PM
Dana, thanks so much. This is very helpful!