June 15, 2009
I can hear it now: “Hey! What is this? I bought this vinyl siding because it’s not supposed to need any maintenance!” The following suggestions are more or less optional, but if you’d like to keep your siding looking good for as long as possible, it’s well worth adhering to a few simple dos and don’ts.
DO WASH IT.
Once a year, invest an hour or two in rinsing every bit of the siding with a garden hose to get rid of dust and dirt. If allowed to accumulate year after year, the siding will eventually begin to look distinctly grimy and won’t come clean unless scrubbed.
DON’T BASH IT.
Be careful where you park your lawn mower, bicycle, or snowblower. Vinyl doesn’t dent (unlike aluminum, which sustains big, permanent damage when smacked with a line drive or poked with a rake handle), but it can crack or break, especially when rendered brittle by cold weather. Replace any damaged sections as soon as you can.
DO INSPECT IT.
Although vinyl siding doesn’t cause wood rot, it may conceal moisture-related problems from another source. If a leak is hidden behind the vinyl siding—which is itself impervious to decay—it may go unnoticed for a long time. Investigate any suspicious streaking or staining that appears on the vinyl itself or on the exposed foundation wall beneath, either of which may warn of hidden trouble. Because the nails or screws that secure the siding to the wall lose their holding power in rotted wood, loose areas of siding are another warning sign.
DON’T MELT IT.
Vinyl has a low melting point and is slow to burn. “You’d be amazed at the number of people who park their gas grills a foot away from the siding and fire them up,” Jeff May says. “Then later they notice a big melted patch on the wall.” Keep that barbecue a safe distance away from the wall, and be careful with those patio torches and any other sources of intense heat.
Well, Maybe. Although the whole purpose of vinyl or aluminum siding is to avoid painting, it can be painted with any good-quality exterior latex paint. That can be a useful option if you want to squeeze another few years out of a badly faded batch of vinyl, or if you’ve moved into a house whose color you just can’t stand and you want to buy time while you consider other options. But—and this is an important but—vinyl should never be painted a dark, heat-absorbing color, or it will tend to warp and sag when exposed to strong sunlight. Stick to white, gray, pale yellow, or some other reflective hue.