A Primer on Vinyl and Aluminum Siding

Choosing between vinyl or aluminum siding often comes down to a personal preference, which is also influenced by cost. They both have advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to take some time to research the options available and choose the best one for your needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vinyl Siding

One of the main advantages of vinyl siding is that in most cases it will not dent and because it is the same color all the way through, scratches are less likely to be obvious.

However, in very cold weather, the vinyl can become very brittle and is prone to break. Also, because vinyl siding will change size in relation to the temperature, growing larger and smaller, many of the problems associated with it are related to the installation process and not the actual siding itself. If improperly installed, changes in temperature will ultimately result in waves in the siding.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aluminum Siding

Aluminum siding, on the other hand, will dent rather easily and a scratch will reveal the metal color of the aluminum. However, scratches in aluminum can be easily fixed by using a little paint.

One of the main advantages of aluminum siding is how little maintenance is needed. It does not corrode and is resistant to termite infestation, so usually lasts for a very long time.

A Word About Asbestos

Asbestos can be quite dangerous if inhaled and was used in a variety of building materials up until the 1980's. Older homes, such as those built in the 1950's often had asbestos siding. Since removing the siding can be quite expensive, as law requires that the material is professionally contained, it is often better to install the new siding over it.

However, if the siding is installed directly onto the asbestos siding, it will likely crack the old siding, causing the asbestos to fall to the ground. So, it is usually recommended to install a wood sheathing over the old siding. This way, the new siding can be secured to the sheathing, rather than the old siding.

Cleaning Vinyl Siding

Over time, it is not uncommon for black mildew and dirt to deposit on vinyl siding, but fortunately, this can usually be cleaned easily, without too much effort.

Using a mixture of bleach, water, and laundry detergent is often quite effective and can be sprayed directly onto the home. It is also usually fine to power wash the siding, but remember to work down from the top of the home, to avoid water getting under the vinyl siding. Also, you would want to turn the pressure down, so that it does not damage the siding.

A mixture of vinegar and water is also effective for cleaning vinyl siding.

Painting Aluminum Siding

In addition to the steps mentioned above, it is also possible to paint aluminum siding, but it is important that it is completely cleaned first. Also, a high quality exterior latex paint should be used.

If the aluminum siding is already in very poor condition, it is necessary to use a primer. When choosing a primer, make certain that it will work well with the chosen paint. If the new color is extremely different from the existing color, plan on doing at least two coats on the aluminum siding.

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