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The Next Generation of Vinyl Siding – Solid Core

Read Author's Notes at the End of This Column

Vinyl Siding - Solid Core

DEAR TIM: Lately energy costs are quite unstable. Add to that the rising cost of about everything. I need to save money. I love the look of painted wood siding but don't want to break out a paint brush every five to seven years. Is there a vinyl siding product that really looks like wood and offers superior energy efficiency? When I add the siding to my home, what can I do to stop or minimize outside noise from getting into my home? Randy T., Dublin, OH

DEAR RANDY: Anyone who thinks energy prices are going to go down and stay down in the near future needs to wake up. Much of the energy we use to heat and cool our homes comes from natural resources that can not be replenished as fast as we use them. As the population grows and the resources dwindle, energy prices will most certainly rise. It is very wise for you to think about reducing energy costs with each and every building material you choose.

Vinyl siding was first introduced in 1957. Believe it or not, the product has not changed radically until this year. One of its claims to fame has always been the no maintenance attribute. Once you install vinyl, it rarely requires care. But the stumbling block for many years has always been its appearance. For years, manufacturers have tried all sorts of things to make vinyl siding mimic wood. Countless different profile sizes, wood grained embossing, and even multi-colored extruded siding have all fallen short of the mark in my opinion.

Perhaps the biggest problem vinyl siding manufacturers have faced has been the lack of rigidity of the product. If you touch typical vinyl siding on a home, it simply is not solid. What's more, the exterior walls on most wood frame houses are not perfectly flat. Thin vinyl siding and even thicker fiber cement and some wood sidings have a tendency to follow each and every bump and dip. Add to this problem, the fact that most of the vinyl siding products that resemble wood siding have a curl in each lap. This unsightly curl is a dead giveaway that the siding is not wood.

All of these problems and more have been solved by a revolutionary no maintenance vinyl siding that has just hit the marketplace. This product has a solid foam core that allows the siding to lay incredibly flat on a humpy exterior wall. The siding has an R-value of 4.0. Traditional vinyl siding, most wood sidings, and fiber cement sidings typically have an R-value of less than 1.0. R-value is a measurement of resistance to heat loss or heat gain. The higher the value the more energy you save. This new siding is so energy efficient that it carries the prestigious Energy Star label. You will search long and hard for other siding products that bear this label.

The foam core that is laminated to the back of the siding interlocks as it is installed. This creates a solid foam barrier around all of the exterior walls of your home. This is important because the wall studs and the top and bottom wall plates used to construct the exterior walls create breaks in the wall insulation systems. The foam core also slows air infiltration. Outside noise travels through air gaps in the side walls of your home. This new siding is an excellent sound deadening material.

Traditional vinyl siding has typically been vulnerable to impact damage from hail, baseballs, golf balls, etc. The foam core in this new siding increases impact resistance by 300 percent. This feature is very important as your home ages with time. It is not easy to find replacement siding that matches perfectly 10 - 15 years after it has been installed. If you use this new foam core siding, you should not have to worry about this maintenance issue.

Be sure to ask about the trim pieces that are needed to install the siding. This new vinyl siding comes with foam filled outside corners that resemble the trim on my Queen Anne Victorian home. They are very attractive. Wide profile foam filled window and door trim is also available. The curb appeal of a home covered with this new siding is unparalleled. Trust me, any vinyl siding manufacturer that wants to be a player will be forced to make solid core siding. If they don't, they will have to employ the absolute best sales people on the planet.

Installing vinyl siding on your house? Find the best professionals by using my Vinyl Siding Checklist. I offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

Author's Notes:
December, 2004

My prediction came true. When I wrote this column, I was certain that other vinyl siding manufacturers would follow the lead of the first company that introduced solid foam-core vinyl siding. As of today, it is a commodity item. Virtually every vinyl siding company offers foam-backed siding or a foam filler option. Which one is the best? Well, price is always a good barometer of quality. Start there first. If you run into trouble, email me.


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