How To Look At A House
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What is the average life expectancy of vinyl siding?
Thursday, December 19, 2019
How long does vinyl siding last?
Vinyl siding can be expected to last 25 to 45 years with minimal maintenance. The better quality and more expensive grades of vinyl siding will have a longer life. It is a low-cost and low-maintenance option for house siding. There are, however, several problems that may come up during the life of the siding:
•• Fading - Color fades from UV-sunlight over time, which is one reason it is not offered in dark colors. Like any building material, it is offered in budget to premium price ranges, with the premium vinyl being more fade-resistant. Vinyl siding can be painted, but you must use a paint specifically manufactured for vinyl siding to get good paint adhesion. Go to our blog post Can vinyl siding be painted? for more on this.
•• Impact Damage - Vinyl siding is more easily damaged than most other sidings. Missing chunks along the lowest plank are typical when a string weed trimmer is used for edging next to the house. Insulated vinyl siding is available that can both add energy efficiency to an older home and increase the impact resistance of the vinyl.
•• Heat Deformation - Regular outdoor heat does not affect it, but a barbecue grille placed too close to the siding can cause an area of sagging, half-melted planks. Sometimes reflected heat from a nearby window can cause deformation too.
•• Improper Installation - Vinyl siding must be carefully installed to the manufacturer’s specs to be a good weather-resistant cladding. When the J-channels and other trim pieces are not the wrong way, or just omitted completely, water can get behind the siding at door and window openings, and moisture enters the wall.
It’s important to note that vinyl siding is not designed to be waterproof. According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, a national trade organization, “vinyl siding, insulated siding, and polypropylene siding are exterior claddings, not water-resistive barriers, and are designed to allow the material underneath to breathe. This factor provides a supplemental rainscreen that reduces the amount of water that reaches an underlying water-resistive barrier.” But sloppy installation means that more than a little water will get behind the “supplemental rainscreen"—and eventually cause a problem.
Also, see our blog posts Should I be suspicious about a concrete block house covered with siding? and Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally?
And here’s a bar graph that compares the life expectancy of vinyl to other types of residential siding.
Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?
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Field Guide for Home Inspectors, a quick reference for finding the age of 154 brands of HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical panels, plus 210 code standards for site-built and manufactured homes, and the life expectancy rating of 195 home components. Available at amazon.com for $19.95.
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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:
NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMae, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.
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