Vinyl and aluminum are two of the most popular home siding materials, and when these materials start to show their age, it leaves homeowners with two options: paint it or replace it.
In this article, we’ll discuss the viability of each option, why replacing is the the better option and some useful tips as to how any professional you hire should approach vinyl or aluminum siding replacement.
Vinyl Siding vs. Aluminum Siding: Which Is Better?
When it comes to choosing a siding material, homeowners often have trouble deciding whether vinyl or aluminum is the better option — it’s one of the most heated debates in construction. We’ll start this article by examining the pros and cons of each type of siding.
When installed correctly, vinyl has a reputation for being highly durable. Thanks to its high manufacturing standards, vinyl today can better withstand high temperatures and strong winds, resist impact and retain its colors for longer than was the case a few years ago.
Aluminum is also resistant to exposure and wear, but is particularly susceptible to scratching and denting. On the plus side, aluminum is more fire-resistant than vinyl, as vinyl tends to melt when exposed to a fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency discourages those living in wildfire-prone areas from installing vinyl siding on their homes due to its lack of fire resistance. That also means you should keep your grill away from your vinyl siding.
Vinyl, except for perhaps the most high-end products, tends to be slightly more affordable than aluminum and can cost as little as $2 per square foot. The cost of aluminum, on the other hand, ranges from $3 to $6 per square foot.
If you live in a region with a relatively mild climate and maintain your siding properly, vinyl siding should last at least 40 years. If you live in a harsh environment that experiences temperature extremes, however, the lifespan of your vinyl will be considerably less. Aluminum siding, if properly taken care of, can last over 50 years.
The only real upkeep required with vinyl is occasional cleaning. Vinyl also doesn’t experience much fading, as the color gets baked in during the vinyl manufacturing process.
Since aluminum siding scratches and dents easily, you may find yourself having to repair or replace parts of your siding depending on the extent of the damage. Aluminum is also known to fade.
Vinyl comes in a wide variety of styles, colors and textures. The color you select gets added to the product during the manufacturing process, meaning it permeates the vinyl, rather than showing only on the surface. Scratches and nicks will go unnoticed because they won’t create any color contrast.
As vinyl siding tends to be thicker and does not crack, rot or warp, it serves as an outstanding insulator for your home and improves its energy efficiency.
Under extreme temperatures, aluminum has a reputation for not performing as well as vinyl. Metal tends not to be a good insulator. When it’s hot outside, aluminum will absorb the heat, causing your home to heat up more quickly, and you’ll have to rely more on air conditioning as a result. Also, because aluminum can get cracked or dented more readily, it can cause holes or leaks, which will decrease the energy efficiency of your home.
Painting Your Vinyl Siding
Homeowners who want to give their home exteriors a fresh look often assume they can paint vinyl siding. While this method will make your home look somewhat newer and isn’t as much cost as investing in new siding, we discourage this practice for several reasons:
- You will void your warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty typically states any alteration of your product, including painting, will cancel out your warranty. That means you cannot expect the manufacturer to maintain, repair or replace your siding if you discover any flaws.
- Painting is only possible during certain times of the year. If you want to paint your home during hot, stormy or snowy seasons of the year, your fresh coat could get damaged or crack, peel or bubble.
- Only certain colors will work. Only certain types of paint can absorb into and stick to vinyl. Because you have a limited choice of paints, you might not be able to pick the color you’d like. Darker colors can make the vinyl siding more heat-absorbent, which may cause it to bubble and warp during the warmer months.
- It will have a shorter lifespan than new siding. Assuming you paint it correctly, your paint job should last several years. New siding, however, has a much longer lifespan of 25 years or longer if properly maintained. While paint is in the short term less costly than new siding, think about how much you’ll be spending on paint every few years and compare those costs to your one-time investment in siding.
- It will be harder to replace damaged panels in the future. Also keep in mind that, if any of your painted siding gets damaged, your manufacturer probably won’t be able to match your painted-over siding.
- You won’t be able to add upgrades. If you choose to paint your siding, you’ll miss out on the recent advancements in the vinyl siding industry. By purchasing the latest siding, you can pick a shiny new color, add on beautiful details such as scallops and install an underlayment to provide your home with more insulation and energy savings. Installing modern, updated vinyl siding on your home can significantly increase its curb appeal and value.
- Painting involves a more considerable margin of error. You’re more likely to make unforgiving mistakes while painting than while installing vinyl siding.
- The results are more unpredictable. When painting your vinyl siding, it’s difficult to know what the finished product will look like. When transforming something as important as your home’s exterior, you want to make sure the results look professional.
Painting your siding involves a lot more risk than replacing it. All the application conditions must be right, including the weather, the paint color and how well you cleaned the surface beforehand. Even then, you may end up having wasted your time when your siding finish beings to crack, peel, warp or bubble.
If you instead decide to upgrade your siding and go with new, you can be certain the results will be attractive.
Painting Your Aluminum Siding
Likewise, we also strongly discourage homeowners from painting over their aluminum siding. The primary reason is that when your aluminum siding gets to the point where you want to update its appearance, painting it will not be cost-effective. Painting aluminum siding is unfeasible if:
- It has large dents
- There is perforation across several planks
- You or a previous owner have already repainted on top of the factory finish
- It is no longer completely attached to the house
- It is excessively rusted
If there are structural problems with the aluminum siding, this situation becomes even more complicated. While you may be able to paint aluminum siding to temporarily hide small holes, dents and a slight bit of rust, if your siding has any more significant damage, painting over it is not a cost-effective, long-term solution.
Washing Your Siding
If your siding looks old, dingy or moldy, it may not necessarily need a full replacement to improve its appearance. Sometimes, all it needs is a thorough cleaning. It is not uncommon for homeowners to quickly realize a simple wash is enough of an improvement to give the siding new life.
Here are some useful tips for power-washing your siding:
- Pick a sunny, calm day to pressure wash.
- Turn off the electricity to open outlets on your home’s exterior.
- Close all doors and windows. Protect exterior lights by covering them with plastic and tape.
- Trim the shrubs and bushes touching the house to give yourself access for cleaning.
- Use protection for your eyes. Don’t use ladders.
- If your house is more than one story high, obtain an extension for your pressure washer so you can reach the top part of your siding from the ground.
- Now it’s time to begin. Connect your pressure washer to a garden hose and turn it on. Insert the siphon tube into a soap solution and attach the soaping nozzle.
- When applying detergent to the house, start at the bottom and work your way up. Don’t apply the detergent in direct sunlight. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes.
- Now you can replace the pressure washer nozzle with the 25- or 40-degree spray tip. Keeping the wand a distance of least one foot from your siding, thoroughly wash the detergent off.
- When rinsing, start at the top and work your way down.
- Keep the wand at a 90-degree angle to the wall to avoid water getting up underneath the siding.
If you choose to have your home professionally washed, you will save yourself some time and guarantee you don’t accidentally do any damage to your siding.
If You Are Not Satisfied, Try Replacing Your Siding
If you are planning to live in your home for many years to come, a vinyl siding replacement is probably the best option and should last 25 years or more with proper maintenance. Think about replacement against the long-term expenses of painting every couple of years and that painting it isn’t a long-lasting option — and compare that with the cost of a one-time investment in new siding that will last for many years to come.
The decision to replace your siding becomes more straightforward if you have any damaged panels. You should also keep in mind replacing your siding provides you with the opportunity to add other upgrades.
How to Replace Vinyl Siding
A vinyl siding replacement, particularly for one damaged section, requires several steps. The professional you’re working with will use some if not all of these steps to replace a damaged section of your siding.
Various tools you can expect to see include:
- Utility knives to cut through the siding’s face
- Framing squares to ensure proper angles and measurements
- Zip tools to easily unhook the siding edges
- Claw hammers or pry bars to help pull out the nails fastening the siding to the house
One trick you might see, depending on how large the damaged section of vinyl is, is to pull a piece of siding from a less visible part of your house and use it to replace the damaged section — especially if the damaged section is in a highly-visible, curb-facing spot. Why might this strategy be used? Because the piece you’re up-cycling will be faded, and it will more closely match your existing siding than brand-new siding will. Then, brand-new siding can be installed on the section you pulled from.
In the process of removing siding for complete replacement or patching, the best strategy for siding replacement is to cut the damaged section of siding out completely. Then, for the replacement piece, to measure it so it is about two inches longer than what was removed. This spacing on the replacement piece should mean it will fit properly into the patch, and overlap to hide the end.
In the case of one or two pieces of vinyl siding needing replacement, whether you use an existing piece or get a new piece, if your overall color isn’t available from a distributor, this is when painting your vinyl siding might be the best possible solution for a small replacement area. Your construction professional might do a color-match for the broken piece, and then move forward with painting just the couple replaced pieces of siding.
Another option, again depending on how much siding is damaged, is to install not just one or two pieces but a whole section that will take you to an edge or corner — especially if the new siding is extremely close in color match. Replacing a whole section can allow for better visual blending of new vinyl with the old so the end result is more uniform in appearance.
How to Replace Aluminum Siding
If you had your aluminum siding installed several decades ago, there is a chance your manufacturer is no longer in business. A professional construction company like Add Ventures can help you find new siding that matches your existing siding, or help you utilize a piece from an inconspicuous spot and then replace that section with newer, close-match piece.
To replace your aluminum siding, follow these six steps:
- Take some tin snips and cut vertically into both ends of your damaged piece. Then, make a horizontal cut through your piece’s center section.
- Leave the fastened upper part where it is and take out the bottom half.
- Cut off the nailing tab from the top part of your replacement piece.
- Generously apply butyl gutter seal to the nailed upper part.
- Put in the lower replacement piece and firmly push it into the gutter seal.
- Apply butyl gutter seal or silicone caulking compound at the joints.
While siding replacement is not a particularly demanding DIY project, taking it on yourself could be a risk. If you don’t have time or the tools, you can always have a professional installer replace your new siding.
Contact Add Ventures for Commercial or Residential Siding Services
If you’ve decided it’s time to wash or replace your siding, look no further than Add Ventures, the most experienced and trusted siding installer in New York. We’ve been proudly serving homeowners, HOAs, commercial buildings and community managers in the tri-state area for over two decades. Whether you’re a homeowner or manage properties, we’d love to make your siding look like new again. Our knowledgeable team has more than 70 years of combined experience, and can help create a customized repair or maintenance plan that best suits your needs.
At Add Ventures, it is our mission to provide our customers with dependable service and hassle-free, all-inclusive contracting. Our business continues to grow through customer referrals, and we believe the key to this success is our quality work and the strong relationships we’ve developed with both homeowners and property managers over the past 20 years.
In addition to our pressure-washing and installation services, we also provide a variety of construction and roofing services. If you happen to have any questions about siding needs or any other services we offer, we would be delighted to speak with you. Feel free to call us at 845-357-7134 or fill out our contact form.