Vinyl siding: a guide to the lingo

Vinyl siding: a guide to the lingo

Whether planning on installing your own vinyl siding or hiring a contractor, it may seem as if you're about to enter a new world -- an unfamiliar place with its own unique language. But don't panic; it's really not all that bad. Understanding a few of the terms used in the industry can have you talking to contractors and siding distributors like an old pro -- or at least somewhat close to it.

A few common vinyl siding terms

You may never be able to discuss vinyl siding like a seasoned contractor, but that's fine. All you need to be concerned about is what's being installed on only one home -- your own. Here are a few terms that should help you get started:

  • Gauge -- The thickness of a vinyl panel is considered its gauge. Heavier gauge claddings are usually higher quality and a little more expensive than thinner selections. Vinyl siding panels over .040-inch might be classified as heavy gauge.
  • Wood-grained -- What could wood-grain possibly have to do with vinyl siding? Most manufacturers offer two surface finishes in their product lineups: smooth and wood-grained. In many cases, actual pieces of wood are used to create the vinyl molds so that the panels have a very realistic appearance. Wood-grained siding normally has a more rustic look than smooth.
  • Square -- This is the amount of siding needed to cover 100 square feet of wall area. Vinyl siding is normally priced and sold by the square.
  • Double panels -- When shopping for your veneer, you'll see many manufacturers advertising their products as being a Double 5 or Double 4. This means the panels in that style present the appearance of two siding boards that each have a five- or four-inch reveal. Triple 3 is also a common style: each panel has the look of three individual, three-inch boards.
  • Beaded -- Vinyl siding that is described as being beaded is normally flat with a decorative rounded band at the bottom of each panel. Beaded siding usually has a smooth finish and is wider than most other styles. The panels can be a good choice when a touch of elegance is desired.
  • Clapboard -- Beveled wood siding is thinner at the top edge than it is at the bottom. When installed on a home, the veneer is called clapboard siding. Vinyl siding that mimics this look is classified as having clapboard styling. Vinyl panels that feature this profile are usually available in various widths or reveals.
  • Dutchlap -- This style is very similar to clapboard, but the simulated siding boards are each scalloped at the top. Dutchlap siding is known for the attractive shadow lines it can create on a home.

While these terms just scratch the surface, they should be enough to help you start your journey into the world of vinyl siding. However, if your contractor or siding distributor starts speaking in a language that seems incomprehensible, just ask them to stop and explain. At one time they were new to the world just like you.

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