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Everything you must know before vinyl siding installation

Installing house siding is about more than just increasing your home's curb appeal. Siding also protects your property from the elements. There are a few things to consider if you're interested in replacing or upgrading your siding. Different types of siding respond differently to hot and cold temperatures, wind, and other elements over time. Besides, factors like energy efficiency, versatility, and ease of installation should also be considered before installation. The myriad siding options may seem overwhelming at first, but with our guide's help, you can choose the vinyl siding that will best fit your home. This in-depth article covers everything from vinyl siding types and their costs to upkeep requirements and things to consider before making the final buying decision. If you need a more detailed consultation after investigating this buying guide, our partner siding contractors in your region will be happy to assist you. It takes only a quick form filling to contact them.

Everything you must know before vinyl siding installation

Vinyl siding from A to Z

Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and requires no painting or caulking. It comes in a variety of colors and textures. Manufacturers carry vinyl siding and accessories to mimic wood, stone, and other natural siding materials, allowing you to create an authentic look.

Vinyl siding is a very affordable material to install on a home or other structure. The statistics go that vinyl siding costs, on average, 11% less than cedar siding and 26% less than aluminum. It’s typically installed over rigid insulation for the utmost energy efficiency. Today, vinyl remains the most popular option for siding throughout the United States on both new and existing homes. Other front runners are wood, aluminum, steel, brick, and stucco.

You also get a wide variety when you install vinyl siding. It’s available in a broad spectrum of colors, meaning you have just as many choices as paint colors. You also have your choice of textures, whether smooth or wood grain. In addition, you can choose from standard lengths with straight edges, scalloped edges, or other kinds of decorative edges. Some siding is designed to imitate the look of natural wood grain shakes, which may fit in incredibly nicely with the traditional home. Another siding is completely smooth, which goes well with modern homes. From horizontal to vertical panels, you also have your choice of accessories also crafted from vinyl, such as soffit and window trim.

Ease of installation is another reason vinyl is preferred over other materials, such as wood shakes, which take more precision to install. In addition, vinyl is durable, long-lasting, and resistant to rot, unlike wood which is susceptible to moisture warping and termite infestation. Vinyl is also very easy to clean. All you need is a high-pressure power washer to get off mildew, dirt, and other stuck-on debris.

The primary styles and types of vinyl siding

An advantage of vinyl siding is its versatility. It can be molded into many different shapes and textures to mimic the look of other siding styles, such as wood, stone, brick, clapboard, or cedar shakes. Vinyl replacement siding is a great way to transform your home's look and enhance its curb appeal. There are a wide variety of colors available with all of these vinyl siding types, so you can create your dream home easily.

Check out the list below for the primary types of vinyl siding and their distinctive features.

  • Board and batten siding

Another type of vinyl siding you could consider for your home is a style called Board and Batten. It comes in a vertical pattern with pieces of siding in various widths. The boards are placed vertically and then separated by a thinner vertical strip called the batten. These two pieces together make up the Board and Batten design.   It can add a great deal of dimension to one's home and create a unique look. Board and Batten styles can work on various home styles – from the traditional with cottages and barns to more contemporary. Like regular vertical siding, it can be used to accent some parts of the home as well.

  • Shake siding

Siding of this type looks like pieces of wood from a log overlapping one another to cover the home. As there is a great texture with vinyl replacement siding now, most people can't tell the difference between a vinyl shake and a wood shake. Shakes, like other siding styles, can work in two different ways. They can make a dramatic statement when used for the entire home. Additionally, they can provide a nice accent when used on just one portion of the house, whether that is just the front or just on dormer windows if you have them. However you decide to use shake siding, you are sure to create a distinctive look for your home.

  • Traditional lap siding 

When you think of siding, you most likely imagine a home with traditional lap siding. Also known as clapboard, traditional lap siding is a common, horizontal siding style with overlapping planks. 

The top of each plank is narrower than its wide bottom, forming a wedge. Each plank's thin top is tucked underneath the thicker bottom of the plank that's above it, creating a slight shadow beneath each horizontal plank. 

  • Dutch lap siding

The most popular type of vinyl siding is Dutch Lap. This style was first used in the early settler days, and its origins trace back to Northern Europe. Dutch Lap siding has a decorative groove atop the board and creates beautiful shadow lines. The groove provides a look of greater depth and dimension and adds character to the home. Vinyl siding technology has come a long way, so your Dutch Lap siding will most likely have the look of real wood, also adding to the charm of your home's exterior.

Not only does the decorative groove provide a nice look, but its design and shape also add strength to the siding, so it's less likely to appear wavy down the line. When you are replacing your siding, you want the lines to be completely straight, not only when first installed but for years to come. If you want a classic, clean look for the outside of your home, Dutch Lap is probably the type of vinyl siding you will most enjoy.

  • Scalloped siding

This siding type can be used for an entire house if that's the look you are going for. More people choose to use scallops to accent the upper floor of their homes, eaves, gables, and dormers. Scalloped siding consists of half-round shingles, and the round edges can break up the pattern on your home if you have a lot of vertical or horizontal lines. Many Victorian homes feature scalloped siding, which is used to accent different architectural features and is often in a different color than the siding on the rest of the house. Regardless of how you use scallops, you'll be sure to create the look you've always wanted.

  • Vertical siding

This variation of vinyl siding is a great option for your home if you are looking to accent a particular area, break up the façade of your home, or can be used all over for a contemporary look. When used as an accent element, vertical siding is most used in entryways, porch walls, gables, and even dormers. While vertical siding is typically considered a modern design element, you can also create a rustic barn look depending on the style of your home and the color you choose. If you've always wanted that old farmhouse look but with modern conveniences and easy maintenance, vertical siding can help you create that look.

How to keep the vinyl siding in mint condition for decades?

You can wash your vinyl siding with a garden hose to handle most of the cleaning. Avoid spraying water into cracks or under the siding. You can use a long-handled car-washing brush and a mild detergent when necessary. If you pressure-wash the siding, set the pressure between 1500 and 2400 pounds per square inch (PSI). Use a 40-degree tip at a minimum of 12 inches away from the siding. Keep the spray at eye level. Some manufacturers specify that you shouldn’t pressure-wash their products.

Painting vinyl siding is possible with the right preparation, paint, and technique. If you decide to paint your siding, select an exterior latex paint labeled for use on vinyl siding. Choose a color no darker than the color of your siding. Keep in mind that darker shades absorb more heat, which can warp the siding. Follow the instructions for surface preparation. Make sure the siding is thoroughly clean and dry. If the surface is pitted or damaged, you may need to apply a vinyl-safe primer. Use a brush or paint sprayer and paint from the top of the house to the bottom using side-to-side strokes.

Repairing broken or melted siding usually requires replacing the affected panels. A vinyl unlocking tool, also known as a zip-lock tool, lets you easily separate and attach adjacent vinyl panels. Install the new panel according to the product instructions. You may also be able to cut away only the damaged portion of the siding and install a patch piece rather than having to replace the entire panel. 

Vinyl siding - Benefits and downsides

Vinyl siding is a durable and beautiful siding option with a ton of great benefits for homeowners who want to enhance curb appeal and minimize maintenance requirements at the same time.

Let’s get into the top advantages of quality vinyl siding:

  • Durability. Vinyl is created to withstand elements from heavy wind to hail. It is dent-resistant and virtually unaffected by harsh weather conditions like wind, heat, cold, and moisture. It’s also resistant to excessive amounts of moisture. This prevents rotting and corrosion. Vinyl siding often comes with a lifetime warranty to back up its claims. That warranty can even be extended for 50 years for successive owners.
  • Affordability. Vinyl siding costs less than its wood and brick counterparts. Not only is installation significantly cheaper than other alternatives, but you also get more for your money in the long term. You also have to factor in the cost of maintenance and repairs. Vinyl siding is remarkably low maintenance, meaning you won’t have to worry about costs that will come up down the road.
  • Low maintenance. Vinyl siding is the lowest maintenance option out there. There’s barely any regular upkeep required to keep vinyl siding looking brand new. Once it’s installed, you’re good to go. You’ll get your money’s worth with vinyl siding because you won’t have to budget for any repair or maintenance costs over the years.
  • Energy efficiency. Not only will vinyl siding save you money on the cost of the product itself, but opting to install it will save you money on utilities. Vinyl siding that is insulted prevents heat loss through a process called thermal bridging. Insulated vinyl siding is like adding a protective blanket over the wall studs. This means your home will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Versatility. Vinyl siding offers a wide variety of options to personalize your home. Choose from a wide range of trim, styles, textures, shapes, and decorative accessories for your windows, doors, and so on. You’ll also have over 300 long-lasting colors to select from.
  • Visual appeal. Installing new vinyl siding can increase your home’s curb appeal and can add value to your home. If you are looking to own the best-looking home in the neighborhood, vinyl siding is for you. Redoing the exterior of your house might seem overwhelming, but the rewards and the potential return on investment are well worth the cost. Installing vinyl siding is a low-cost way to transform the look of your home.

Unfortunately, there are several major problems with vinyl siding that aren’t as well-known as its more positive attributes. Before buying this material and hiring local siding installers, make sure you understand the drawbacks of vinyl to make the right decision for your home.

  • Cracking. Vinyl siding has other issues in cold climates as well. When the vinyl gets cold enough, any impact against it will cause it to fracture or crack. Some cracks may not be noticeable unless you get up close, but others may result in large pieces of the siding coming away in the form of a hole. This, in turn, allows moisture to infiltrate through the siding, which can lead to issues such as wood rot, mold, and mildew beneath the siding, where it will be hidden from view until it’s too late.
  • Warping. Vinyl can warp some in hot temperatures. Therefore, installing vinyl siding on a home that sees hot summers is not the best idea, as it will lead to the siding changing shape after a few years. And while you can replace those areas that have warped, the same issue will continue to happen again and again unless you also install some form of shade for your home. This can be an issue in desert areas where trees and other covers may not grow well, and the summer temperatures get up high enough to melt your siding.
  • Prone to leaks. Vinyl siding is itself water resistant, and when it’s installed without backing, it can act as a natural rain screen, allowing water to drain out from behind it. Unfortunately, many people install it with a foam backing, which then ends up trapping the moisture behind the siding, where it has no place to go. Because the vinyl is unaffected, you may not notice water infiltration or the issues it causes – rot, mold, and mildew – until it’s too late.

Factors that should influence your vinyl siding selection

Many factors come into play when choosing the best vinyl siding for your home, but the process need not be complicated. Here are a few things you need to consider when buying vinyl siding:

  • Style 

The most common horizontal vinyl siding styles are the traditional clapboard, Dutch lap, and beaded. On the other hand, the most popular choice when it comes to vertical vinyl siding is the board and batten. Shakes and shingles are great for the roof or accent areas, while scallops are great accents for gabled walls. With vinyl siding, you can mix and match different styles to come up with the perfect siding for your home. That means you can use more than one kind of siding when there are so many to choose from.

  • Installation 

The ease of installation varies for each type of house siding. Vinyl siding is lightweight, and the installation process is straightforward. If you have the right tools and decent expertise, installing your vinyl siding without professional assistance might be an achievable plan.

  • Color 

When it comes to choosing the color of your vinyl siding, you can choose from light pastel colors to rich earthy hues. The color possibilities are endless. Ultimately, your color choice will depend on your personal tastes and the style of your home.

  • Texture 

The texture is also important because it adds more personality to the vinyl siding. It also makes the appearance of simulated wood more realistic-looking. You can choose from various textures in your vinyl siding, such as smoothly sanded wood grain or a rugged-looking, freshly sawn cedar.

  • Insulation

If you live in a colder region, choosing vinyl siding with added insulation makes a lot of sense. This will help make your home more energy-efficient, keeping the warmth in during the winter months and potentially helping to reduce the amount of money you spend on heating.

Other benefits of choosing insulated siding include the fact that it also protects your home from moisture, which can damage the walls over time. Furthermore, it also provides a degree of soundproofing, protecting you from any loud noises from the street.

  • UV protection

When vinyl is exposed to sunlight, it will gradually fade, losing its color. This is why many vinyl siding options exist that contain additives to protect it against sun damage.

When choosing vinyl siding, if you live in a region that has lots of sunlight, this is certainly something you should think about since if you don’t, you may find that your vinyl loses its color much quicker than you expected.

Also, bear in mind that sometimes cheaper vinyl is often more susceptible to UV fading, so don’t be tempted to just go for the least expensive one you can find, as this can often prove to be a false economy.

  • Cost 

Ultimately, the cost is a determining factor in any siding installation project. For example, vinyl grade, or the thickness of the siding, will greatly affect the overall price of the product. Premium vinyl will cost much more than builder's grade vinyl, but it typically offers a more durable and lasting product. Additionally, your home's surface area and layout will also factor into the average vinyl siding cost per square foot. The cost will be higher if there is a lot of surface area to cover and more complex shapes. 

How much does vinyl siding cost?

The average homeowner can expect to spend between $4.999 and $17.000 for professional vinyl siding installation. The total vinyl siding bill spending will vary significantly depending on the home’s size. The bigger your home, the more you can expect to pay for materials and labor. 

The cost per square foot for vinyl siding ranges from $2.50 to $10.75 per square foot. Size matters. Homeowners with a 1,000-square-foot home can expect to pay between $2,500 and $10.750 for vinyl siding. Homeowners siding a 4.000-square-foot home can expect a bill ranging from $10.000 to $43.000. 

Your total vinyl siding cost will vary depending on the quality of the siding, how much vinyl siding you need, and its style. If adding vinyl siding is just part of your home improvements, we have priced out the cost of new windows, landscaping, and some other common add-on projects, too. 

What factors can affect the ultimate vinyl siding cost?

The size of your home won’t be the only factor affecting the cost of vinyl siding. Vinyl siding prices vary depending on many factors, including the siding’s quality, style, and brand. Removing existing siding to replace it with new vinyl siding will also increase the overall cost. 

Factors that affect vinyl siding costs include: 

  • Quality. Some vinyl siding types are more durable than others, leading to higher costs. 
  • Style. Manufacturers can mold vinyl siding into many shapes and textures. The style of vinyl siding you choose will affect the installation process and overall costs.  
  • Brand. Some manufacturers are more reputable than others. Buying from a brand you trust will likely cost more. 
  • Siding replacement: Need to remove existing siding before installing new siding? Expect a siding removal fee. 
  • Siding repairs. A simple repair won’t cost nearly as much as installing new siding around your home. 
  • Architectural features. If your home has dynamic features or multiple angles, it can make installation more difficult. 
  • Insulated siding. Vinyl siding with built-in insulation costs more than regular vinyl siding. 
  • Labor. Labor costs will vary depending on the installation’s difficulty level. 
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