History of modern siding

History of modern siding

Your home has a "skin" that serves as a barrier between you and the great outdoors. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Taking care of your home's surface is critically important. All exterior parts of the "skin" must fit tightly together, without gaps.

When a home's skin doesn't fit right, paint can start to peel and let in moisture that penetrates the wood. Then, the wood can begin to expand, opening joints to more water damage.

At least that's what would have happened before composite materials, aluminum and vinyl became available for house siding.

House siding: a condensed history

"A number of years ago in the East and the Midwest, wood fell out of favor because homeowners wanted a maintenance-free home," says Richard Arnett a sales manager for Vinyl Designers, Inc. in Sacramento, Calif. "Paint doesn't last a long time."

Searching for some type of composite material, the siding industry designed asbestos siding and roofing shingles. Then aluminum happened on the scene, when the industry discovered how to paint it, so that it did not shine. Alas, aluminum dented easily.

Steel siding became the next big thing. After that it was Masonite, a combination of wood chips, paper and glue; but homeowners had to paint it every three years or Masonite deteriorated.

In 1982, vinyl siding took the country by storm. Says Arnett, "In the East and Midwest, vinyl siding is still the most popular. In California there are a lot of stucco homes."

Today, fiber cement is also gaining a foothold on the market, according to Arnett. Fiber cement siding is a combination of cement and wood fiber; it comes in numerous colors and textures. From wood to vinyl and fiber cement, siding advances continue to protect homes, control costs and add to aesthetics.

Why vinyl siding rules the market--for now

"Vinyl siding will still be your biggest bang for your dollar" says Arnett, who has been in the business for more than 35 years. "The finishes hold up, plus a number of vinyl siding products come with lifetime warranties. Vinyl siding also comes with insulation that goes behind the vinyl."

Regarding style trends, Arnett says this, "In the mid-80s beveled siding was popular, but now the trend is back to 6- to 8-inch shiplap siding," which is similar in appearance to clapboard siding.

Another advancement in vinyl siding that is changing the look of things: Manufacturers are producing darker colors, such as dark blues, reds and grays. Dark colors once faded or warped in the sun, but new vinyl siding is now more resistant to sun damage.

"Trends change every five to six years, and now pastel colors are very popular with new home tracks," reports Arnett, adding that new home tracks are often where trends begin.

In order to preserve its fresh appearance, you should wash your home's vinyl siding once a year. If you have wooden window sashes and trim, you may need to routinely paint any remaining exterior, wooden elements.

While no homeowner can know what tomorrow's weather will bring, for now vinyl siding reigns supreme for cost, appearance and home protection.

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