Vinyl siding vs. hurricane-force winds

Vinyl siding vs. hurricane-force winds

Hurricane Isaac left damage from high winds and flooding across many parts of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Purchasing new vinyl siding with a high wind rating is one way to potentially reduce the amount of damage caused by high-wind events such as hurricanes. Weather and climate influence your choice of siding wherever you may live, especially in coastal areas prone to flooding and natural disasters.

Vinyl siding wind standards

Economy-grade vinyl cladding may work better in parts of the country with more moderate climates than in areas that experience disasters like hurricanes. However, vinyl cladding can be used successfully along the Gulf Coast if it is installed correctly, according to the "Siding Installation in High-Wind Regions" section of the Hurricane Ike Recovery Advisories available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency library. FEMA notes that vinyl siding should withstand winds of at least 110 miles per hour on a building at least 30 feet tall, to meet the International Building Code and the International Residential Code.

Vinyl siding for high-wind regions

Much of the vinyl cladding on the market has been tested for high winds, but products designed specifically for those conditions are best suited to survive disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Isaac. The National Weather Service ranked Hurricane Katrina as the third-most powerful hurricane to hit U.S. soil since record-keeping began in 1851, and winds exceeded 140 mph.

For areas prone to winds greater than 110 miles per hour, certain types of vinyl wall covering feature a double-nailing hem that gives it added fastening strength and can help to keep the material on your walls. Products rated for high winds also typically offer thicker, heavier-gauge vinyl for increased rigidity. Thicker siding can better withstand the force of the wind because it lies flatter and straighter against your walls; damage usually is caused when wind gets behind the cladding. Heavy-gauge cladding also has more resistance to denting or scarring from flying objects. The optimal thickness for cladding in windy areas ranges between .040 and .048 inches, FEMA reports.

Installing vinyl siding along coastal regions

Proper installation of the bottom-most course of cladding is crucial, FEMA says, because wind damage often starts at the initial course of cladding and works its way up the wall; this is especially important for buildings with elevated foundations since the wind blows under the building as well as against its sides. FEMA recommends stainless steel fasteners for residences within 3,000 feet of the ocean to prevent corrosion from salt-filled air. Nails should be placed in the center of the nailing hem channel to allow the material to flex.

FEMA suggests that vinyl siding installers should be familiar with local building code requirements and also certified through the Vinyl Siding Institute's Certified Installer Program. To make sure your cladding is installed correctly, you can seek out licensed, bonded and insured* contractors like the ones found through this site.

*See terms and conditions at: http://www.streetcertified.com/about/Terms.jsp

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