Wood & Cedar Siding - Durability

The questions of durability and relative costs of aluminum or vinyl siding compared to the maintenance cost of historic materials are complex. It is important to consider these questions carefully because both types of siding are marketed as long lasting, low maintenance materials. Assuming that the substitute sidings are not damaged, and that they will weather and age normally, there will be inevitable changes in color and gloss as time passes. A normal application of aluminum or vinyl siding is likely to cost from two to three times as much as a good paint job on wood siding. A sensitive application,


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retaining existing trim, will cost more. Therefore, to break even on expense, the new siding should last as long as two or three paintings before requiring maintenance. On wood two coats of good quality paint on a properly prepared surface can last from 8 to 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If a conservative life of seven years is assumed for paint on wood, then aluminum and vinyl siding should last 15 to 21 years before requiring additional maintenance, to break even with the maintenance cost for painting wood siding. Once painted, the aluminum and vinyl siding will require repainting with the same frequency as wood.



While aluminum siding can dent upon impact and the impact resistance of vinyl siding decreases in low temperatures and, therefore, is susceptible to cracking from sharp impact, these materials are generally not more vulnerable than wood siding and shingles. All siding materials are subject to damage from storm, fire, and vandalism; however, there is a major difference in the repairability of wood siding versus substitute materials such as aluminum and vinyl. Although they can all be repaired, it is much easier to repair wood siding and the repair, after painting, is generally imperceptible. In addition, a major problem in the repairability of aluminum and vinyl siding, as mentioned above, is matching color since the factory finishes change with time. Matching the paint for wood siding has a greater likelihood of success.

John H. Myers,"Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings: The Appropriateness    
of Substitute Materials for Resurfacing Historic Wood Frame Buildings," National Park Service.     


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