Flapping panels. When vinyl is installed on a
new two-story home, it sometimes comes unlocked above the
first-floor top plate, and begins to flap in the wind. "It's a
common problem," says Robert Long, marketing manager for vinyl
siding at Louisiana-Pacific. "It's the worst thing that gives
vinyl siding a bad name."
The cause of the problem is joist shrinkage and settlement.
"Where you see unlocking panels is usually at the band between
the first and second floor," says Doug Price of Norandex. "When
the joists shrink, the short return leg of the siding comes
loose from the lock. You'll sometimes see bowing or oil-canning
of the siding at that plate."
Some installers try to prevent the problem by pulling the
siding up tight in areas where shrinkage is expected. "The
manufacturers recommend letting the lock drop before you nail,"
says installer Mark Logan. "But I like to pull it tight. By
starting tight, especially in the band joist area, it allows
for some settlement." How tight to pull it is a matter of
judgment, since many manufacturers warn against pulling up too
tightly on the siding. "Some installers stretch the siding up
as they nail it, instead of letting it drop," says Doug Price
of Norandex. "But that causes fish-mouthing at the laps."
The Latest Developments In the last few years,
manufacturers have introduced a variety of new vinyl siding
products, hoping to stand out in a crowded market. Whether or
not the innovations are useful depends partly on the
preferences of the installer.
• At least five manufacturers - Heartland, Mitten,
Norandex, Reynolds, and Vytec - sell panels designed to be
installed vertically, to mimic board-and-batten siding.
• Several manufacturers, including Heartland, Mastic
and Mitten, sell two-tone or streaked panels designed to look
like stained wood (Figure 5).
Figure 5.Variegated or two-tone siding,
like this Cedar Lane vinyl from Georgia-Pacific, has
color streaks intended to mimic the look of stained
• Vipco sells vinyl siding fused to a panel of foam
• Norandex sells siding with a nail hem with a
built-in "hammer stop" to inhibit nails from being driven too
tightly. The siding is also designed to permit stapling.
• CertainTeed sells siding with a special nailing
hem, called the "Stud-Finder," with graphics permitting the
installer to easily locate 16-inch-on-center studs.
• Wolverine's "Benchmark 44" siding has an integral
fiberglass rod to increase stiffness (Figure 6).
manufacturers have introduced innovations to improve
the stiffness of vinyl siding. Wolverine's Benchmark 44
siding includes a sliding fiberglass rod that locks
adjacent panels together.
• Wolverine's Millennium siding has a flexible
nailing hem connected to the siding by string-like plastic
fibers. The hem is designed to permit nails or staples to be
driven all the way home, without restricting expansion (Figure
Figure 7.Tight nailing
prevents vinyl siding from expanding freely, leading to
buckling. An exception is Wolverine's Millennium
siding, which includes a flexible nailing hem designed
to accommodate tight nailing.
Not all of these innovations have been greeted
enthusiastically by installers. Some siders, for example,
complain that the fiberglass rod in the Benchmark 44 siding
makes the panels impossible to cut with shears. Others note
that the flexible nail hem on the Millennium siding makes it
harder for the installer to adjust courses of siding up and
down, to make them line up at the corners.
There may also be technical disadvantages to some new
features. "The two-tone variegated products are more
impact-susceptible," says Doug Price of Norandex. "The
combination of the two-color concentrates weakens the cap on
the product. Everybody in the industry has experienced the same
problem." Laminated two-tone products, which are significantly
more expensive than non-laminated siding, do not have this
"Everybody is coming out with gimmicks," says John Karp,
national product manager for vinyl siding at Georgia-Pacific.
"But I haven't seen many real improvements lately." To some
extent, vinyl siding is a fairly generic product. "Vinyl siding
is vinyl siding," says Alan Hoying of Alcoa. "A lot depends on
the skill of the installer. A good installer can make a bad
panel look good, and a bad installer can take a good panel and
make it look disappointing."