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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vinyl versus Hardie

Just like in roofing people want something on their siding but don't want to pay for the real thing.
The first attempts at imitation wood was aluminum siding. The Tin Men, as they were called, would say that the chalking or paint loss was the siding self cleaning itself. The manufacturers found that paint stuck to steel much better but the steel was harder to install and cost more. Gee, better is great but why more?
Then came vinyl. It was cheap. "Vinyl is final." "Vinyl took man to the moon." "Looks like real wood." Lies by omission.
But now, with advances in chemistry and experience in manufacturing, as they said in Monty Python"It got better."
On the other side of the tracks there were the hardboard manufactures. Masonite is the most famous of them. It all six sides were painted, all cut surfaces were painted, it was kept out of water or off the roof surface, and was painted regularly it would have lasted.
Nobody painted cut surfaces, roofers tarred shingles to it, and people just didn't like to paint. Can you say massive class action. Yet a need was created. People thought vinyl looked cheap unless they were from New Jersey where the Tin Men spoke gospel.
In Dallas and Fort Worth the vinyl and metal sidings went on in the Fifties but got pretty big in the sixties. Still some didn't want vinyl and aluminum went soaring in price. Masonite had come and gone and is still going.
This brings us to Hardie. Sometimes it is the only product that can give you a stucco look for a reasonable price but it must still be painted. Also cementious products leach lime and become more brittle with time. Like glass it is strong up to the point of breakage so I don't recommend it in high rug rat zones.
Besides it's a carcinogen and is out of business in Australia where it started. Lawsuits. They will come here eventually. The installers will get sick from breathing the dust and from topical absorption through the skin. At Habitat for Humanity they told me that is why they cut it with scissors.
Now Hardie looks good and the vinyl people felt the pinch. Thus came full back vinyl with insulation glued to the inside of the product. You can drive a truck on it. Won't dent.
The single seven looks good but the double and triple panels show the unnatural lap every few courses. That's why I prefer the single lap panel. It always loks the same.
We wnr and got our Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) training so the vinyl can be installed in a waterproof manner and not just be a coloring or covering. It is now a true integrated system with flashing details that keep the water from getting to the old wood.
The vinyl soffits can look bad and vented Hardie soffit is about as ugly a product as I've ever seen. Really gross.
The new vinyl soffits have hidden vents and the bead board style really looks sharp. Anyway if the sider removes the old soffits with screens and cuts more holes the air will pass because there is no hermetic seal on siding. Air passes at the rear "J" channel and where it meets the fascia.
The aluminum coil that is custom fit to areas like the fascia, frieze, door and window surrounds, and headers used to be coated with powder coat. That is paint stuck to the aluminum with electrical processes. Now reputable siders use PVC coated coil which matches the siding.
For vinyl underlayments their is Tyvek or Raindrop, which I feel is better. Some siders use thin fanfold insulation as a dry in also and call it insulation as a sells tool. That is misleading. It is insulation but does not insulate. It is for recovery purposes only so the wall will be smooth.
Best to use a synthetic dry sheet with insulation above it or just use an insulated panel over the dry sheet.
Hardie hung to studs is dangerous. It is easily broken and one should install decking first, then a dry in. Hardie panes,as opposed to the lap versions that look like 1x6's or larger, are a little dangerous due to their weight. Just imagine the screws or nails holding that heavy stuff for years and years with the lime leaching out and aged brittleness settling in.
Hey, we're not talking about me.
My home has vinyl siding with hidden vent soffit. I'm happy with it. It's been on for 15 years without a problem.
Dalas has become a Hardie market with some other cement siding products trying to make inroads but many North Dallas, Carrollton, Plano, and Las Colinas people will never have cement siding installed on their home because they had Hardie Roofing put on their roofs and it failed. Hardie went bankrupt. Left them out in the cold. First baby hail trashed it. If the homeowner was prudent he didn't go back with the flash of a synthetic. He went metal, slate, or composition. Period.
On your walls you may go wood, vinyl, or Hardie. There are some flashy alternatives for the gamblers out there but you how pretty those casinos are. Built on the backs of gamblers. Go with the proven and Hardie is not there yet. It is Masonite on steroids. It will go bad but is, as the Spanish say, " es cartón." Cardboard. Those from the lands of real concrete homes know that cement siding is disposable like those old cameras. If you want concrete buy some real stucco rather than try to get something for little or nothing. Better yet, brick it.
I'll just stick with my rigid fullback vinyl. I'll outlive the home.
Would you buy a Hudson boat?