Find out what your options are for low-maintenance siding. Learn about vinyl siding, aluminum trim and soffit ventilation.
LESLIE: Maybe you’re looking to increase the value of your home  before you sell, like Roger in Nebraska.
Roger, what are you working on?
ROGER: Well, I’ve got a house that either is going to need some paint pretty soon or go with the siding. And what I’m wondering is what type of permanent siding should I be going with or maintenance-free, I guess is what you’d call it.
TOM: Yeah, there’s tons and tons of choices. Roger, let me ask you this. Are you definitely getting ready to sell this house?
ROGER: I’m not getting ready to sell it. No, we’ll probably be in it for another ten years.
TOM: Oh, OK.
ROGER: But that could change because of, you know, life.
TOM: Yeah, you never know. Do you like the look of vinyl siding ? Is that kind of the area that you’re talking about?
ROGER: That’s kind of what I’m looking at. Seems like that’s what most people have.
TOM: Well, it’s an affordable option. In terms of the choices that you have to make within the vinyl siding line, there are a couple. First of all, as you mentioned, there is seamless vinyl siding. And basically, seamless vinyl siding is a little heavier. The boards – the vinyl siding pieces are longer and I think they come at least, if I remember right, 30 feet or more long so that you can have continuous vinyl siding across the whole front of the house or back of the house without any seams. It’s more expensive.
The other option would be, when you buy vinyl siding, whether or not you want an insulation backer on there. And I think when you get the Styrofoam back on there, a lot of times the installers will tell you that that will save you a bit of energy. It’s really not that much insulation to add to the wall; maybe a half r at most. But what it does do is it tends to stop the vinyl from sort of sagging in a little bit on itself and helps it to maintain that profile that’s closer to a regular traditional clapboard kind of look.
ROGER: OK, gives it a little more strength then.
TOM: A little more strength, a little more stiffness. Yeah. I would tell you to make sure that you find a good installer because if you don’t have it installed properly, what ends up happening is it gets over-nailed and then, especially in the summer, it tends to buckle and look like it warps. Because vinyl siding has a high expansion/contraction ratio and if you’ve ever seen the back of a piece of it, it doesn’t have nail holes in it; it has nail slots so it doesn’t get nailed too tightly. You want to make sure it can move a little bit. So insulation is important.
The other thing to look at is the trim around the house. At the same time you do the vinyl siding, you might want to use an aluminum trim product. The aluminum that’s painted, basically it’s a baked on finish on the aluminum flashings . They can wrap that around all of the moldings and the fascia and the soffit and then you don’t have to paint those surfaces either.
ROGER: I’ve not had an estimate done yet.
TOM: Take your time on it but I would say that this is not a terribly complicated home improvement project. It’s not the kind of project where you’re going to have a lot of surprises. The only thing that you might want to think about, if you have a deep overhang like that, is to improve your soffit ventilation around the house. Because the more air you get up into the attic space, the less it’s going to cost you to heat or cool your house.
ROGER: OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us from Nebraska.