Fifty-some years after it was introduced, vinyl siding accounts for about one-third of all sales of residential siding, outpacing every other exterior cladding. The product’s minimal maintenance requirements and durability are certainly attractive to homeowners, but its popularity is probably best understood in terms of price. Hands down, standard-grade vinyl siding has the lowest installed cost per square — about 28 percent lower than that of either fiber cement or wood.

The flip side of costing less, however, is the accompanying stigma of being, well, cheap. Some consider the material insubstantial and flimsy-looking. And while that perception can partly be blamed on poor installation practices, it’s also true that there have been problems with the product itself — namely a tendency to yellow, fade, and chalk...

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