Exterior Style

By most accounts, exterior remodeling contractors—those who specialize in roofing, siding, windows and other improvements to the exterior of a home—have been doing well despite the slowdown experienced by many who specialize in other types of remodeling. Although some homeowners are passing up expensive discretionary remodeling, such as kitchens, baths and room additions, they are opting for improvements that will enhance the curb appeal of their homes, reduce maintenance and/or improve energy efficiency.

That isn’t a reason for remodelers to be complacent, however. Homeowners may not want to spend a lot of money but they still want choices. Therefore, the successful exterior remodeling contractor should be offering clients choices. Knowledge of available products and options is essential for those who expect to succeed in a competitive market. Manufacturers and industry associations have a variety of resources available to assist exterior contractors with presenting choices to clients.

One such choice is vinyl siding, a product that has evolved since its introduction more than 40 years ago. Today, vinyl siding accounts for 62 percent of siding demand in the improvement and repair market, according to statistics gathered by the Cleveland-based Freedonia Group market-research company.

Before the early 1960s, vinyl siding was largely unheard of and aluminum was a force in the market. Early vinyl siding came in limited profiles and colors and suffered from fading and temperature-induced distortion.

All of that has changed, says Jery Huntley, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based Vinyl Siding Institute, or VSI. One of the major reasons for the product’s improvement, she says, is vinyl siding has third-party product certification and certified installers. “I think quality and performance through certification is the most important difference when you compare it to others,” she says.

VSI developed its Product Certification Program to verify the quality of vinyl-siding products. Qualifying products are verified by a third-party inspection agency to meet or exceed ASTM D3679, “Standard Specification for Rigid PolyVinyl Chloride Siding.” The standard includes performance characteristics, such as wind load, weatherability, impact resistance and major color changes based on two-year outdoor weathering studies of ASTM D6864, “Standard Specification for Color and Appearance Retention of Solid Colored Plastic Siding Products,” or ASTM D7251, “Standard Specification for Color and Appearance Retention of Variegated Color Plastic Siding Products.”

To find siding products certified to the standard, visit www.vinylsiding.org.

Early vinyl only was available in limited profiles; the traditional double-four profile was most common. Today’s reality is different. “You can use vinyl siding to make the house you’re remodeling a very distinguished, classy house,” Huntley points out. She adds remodelers, builders and architects unfamiliar with the choices are often surprised by the range of options.

For example, to help remodelers replicate historical styles—and assist them in presenting those choices to clients—VSI has published Designing Style: A Guide to Designing with Today’s Vinyl Siding. The guide provides distinguishing siding characteristics and an overview of profiles, colors, trim and accessories available to achieve Cape Cod, French Colonial, Georgia, Federal/Adam, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Folk Victorian and Craftsman styles.

In the early days of vinyl, color choices also were limited. Manufacturers favored lighter colors because of fading problems. Today’s technology has addressed fading and expanded color options, Huntley notes. Siding makers now offer a plethora of colors, like khaki brown, chestnut brown, Richmond red and aviator green.

As a result, homeowners have more choices than even to spruce up their homes with a modest investment. Now it’s up to exterior contractors to help clients make selections that will ensure their satisfaction, both with the guidance and information provided by the contractor and with the finished job.

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