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Vinyl Exteriors: The Pros and Cons

At CHE, we’re often asked about the benefits of vinyl siding. We love this question, because vinyl exteriors can be a great option for house siding. While there can be a stigma that the material is cheap, the truth is that vinyl has undergone a number of improvements over the last several years. Here we’ll break down the pros and cons of vinyl so you can compare it with other siding options and see if it’s the right fit for your home remodel.

Pro – Vinyl Exteriors Can Have High Financial Return

It’s fairly common knowledge that vinyl has a lower cost of installation compared to most house siding options. This could easily lead someone to think that this relatively low cost means a low resale value. Ironically, the opposite is true. In my decades of experience in home remodeling, I’ve found that vinyl exteriors have withstood the test of time and stayed popular over the years, even while other home exteriors like masonite siding have come and gone. In other words, vinyl siding can make for a great long-term investment, especially when you consider its low up-front cost.

Pro – Vinyl Siding is Stronger Than You Think

In recent years, manufacturers have done a lot of work to make vinyl sturdier and longer-lasting, and they’ve succeeded. Most vinyl siding is now made with virgin pvc resin. Not only does this ingredient make it more durable against storm damage, but it also prevents fading. While the pvc resin of yesteryear offered little resistance to sun damage, virgin pvc is another story. To use sunscreen as an analogy, the pvc resin in vinyl exteriors would generally provide SPF 15 protection years ago, while today it provides SPF 50.

Con – Vinyl Can Melt

A huge advantage of vinyl siding is that it’s non-combustible. However, it can definitely melt. In fact, the most common vinyl repair that people ask from CHE is for melted siding. Usually this happens when someone grills next to the house. Whenever someone does this, there’s a high chance that the heat can warp the material.

Con – Beware Inferior Brands

There are a number of manufacturers that we recommend for vinyl siding. These brands use all the best materials so that you can get the benefits listed above. Not only that, but they also come with a higher grade warranty that you could qualify for if you go with a VSI certified installer like CHE. Other brands don’t come with these warranties, and they use cheaper material to make your siding. You can identify the lower grade products by a chalkiness they tend to have, which feels like baby powder. You’ll find this chalkiness on vinyl sold by big box stores, which we don’t recommend. So if you’re going with a vinyl exterior, be sure to go with a solid brand.

Here are the brands that we trust:

  • Alside®
  • Certainteed®
  • Mastic (Ply Gem)®
  • Royal Building Products®

Taking Advantage of Manufacturer’s Warranties

While vinyl has become much more durable over the years, it’s not invulnerable. For instance, aside from melting, the most common vinyl repairs we see are for hail and weed eater damage. That’s why it’s especially important that you use brands listed above so that you can utilize the manufacturer’s warranties in case of damage. These warranties can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements should those be required.

However, to actually get these warranties, you have to use an installer who is certified with VSI (the Vinyl Siding Institute). These installers must also apply the siding according to the manufacturer’s preferred methods. This is one of the reasons why so few people know about these warranties to begin with. Most custom home remodeling companies don’t want to go through this extra work in their installation. 

At CHE, we guarantee that your home siding will be applied according to VSI standards so that you will benefit from every replacement and repair warranty possible with each manufacturer. Moreover, if anything gets past our team regarding installation policies for warranties, we’ll fix the issue for free.

What Are My Other Options for Home Siding?

Fiber cement siding is the most common alternative to vinyl exteriors. It’s a composite board made of concrete, silica, sand, and an additional ingredient that will usually vary depending on the manufacturer. While it’s generally more expensive, fiber cement comes with a variety of benefits. It’s non-combustible, so it can’t burn. Insects also hate it, and unlike vinyl you can paint it.

Fiber cement usually comes in a variety of different styles and profiles, and you can even get it with a baked-in finish called color-plus, which ensures an even color coating and stronger resilience to fading than paint. I personally love this feature of fiber cement, and it’s one of the reasons I chose it for my home exterior.

When using fiber cement, CHE recommends Hardie siding. Hardie is by far the best brand available. Unlike other fiber cement manufacturers, Hardie board siding doesn’t shrink on the wall. Other brands usually shrink about a quarter of an inch within 6 months of installation due to an ingredient called fly ash, which Hardie doesn’t use. They also have special mixtures that make them engineered for climate called the HardieZone® system (a.k.a. HZ). What’s more, Hardie is constantly improving their product. In fact, they spend approximately $100 million per year on R&D to keep their siding the best of its kind.

Aside from a higher cost, the only downside to Hardie siding when compared to vinyl exteriors is that it doesn’t have an R-value, which basically means that it doesn’t have natural self-insulation. Vinyl has a slight R value, so it can save you some money and comfort in your home’s A/C.

Contact CHE for More Information

For over 20 years, Custom Home Exteriors, Inc has been providing next-level home exterior remodeling and repair to the Raleigh, NC area. We guarantee the little things like showing up on time. Our quotes are detailed and itemized so that you know exactly what you’re getting down to the penny. CHE also uses state-of-the-art digital design to show you what your remodel will look like before you agree to any terms. And at the end of your process, we’ll give you a formal package detailing all of your warranties so that you’re set for the future.

Call to schedule a CHE Home Assessment.


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