History Learns a Lesson from Today’s Innovative Remodelers

An island in the Aegean Sea is home to the 7th century BC Temple of Apollo. More than a decade ago, archeologists decided that the famous marble lions would be replaced by carefully crafted cement copies. The Los Angeles Times wrote that “the project typifies how replicas are replacing artworks exposed to the elements.”


Cement :: marble, vinyl siding :: wood

Historic restoration relies on products that replicate the visual accuracy of a building’s architectural style. Unfortunately, achievement of a truly authentic restoration often is resource-prohibitive (in terms of material costs, skilled labor and long-term maintenance). This barrier has been widely acknowledged by architects, builders and planning commissions; their solution is to specify 21st century products that can duplicate the original look without duplicating its costs. A popular choice for exterior cladding that meets these criteria is vinyl and other polymeric siding.


The strong traditions of architectural styles and structures of the past are preserved with products like vinyl and other polymeric siding because they provide long-lasting benefits beyond their aesthetics. High-tech engineering, quality manufacturing and a focus on designing for diverse architectural styles are revolutionizing the way remodelers achieve desired results with vinyl siding.


Such was the vision of architects, designers, builders and remodelers who worked with the Vinyl Siding Institute to create a resource that shows remodelers how to beautifully replicate classic historical styles like Queen Anne and Folk Victorian; Cape Cod; Georgian and Federal; Craftsman; French Colonial, Italianate; and Greek Revival. And with the quality assurance of certified vinyl and polypropylene siding validated by an independent quality control agency to meet or exceed the internationally accepted consensus standards of ASTM International. Furthermore, certified vinyl and polypropylene siding are available in more profiles than any other cladding on the market, so remodelers can protect, beautify and maintain architectural integrity while preserving what’s most important — remembering, respecting and celebrating the past as it was envisioned originally.


Case in Point

The Carolina, a National Historic Landmark in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., is built in the style of a Colonial Revival with Queen Anne attitude and Greek details (columns, not lions, in this instance). Its century-old exterior was in serious need of renovation to restore the hotel to its former grandeur. Like their Greek counterparts, Pinehurst’s planners knew their options weren’t restricted to 19th century materials.


“We recognize that new products and new technology can successfully and beautifully recreate the spirit of the past without literally living in the past,” says Molly Russell, a planner with the Village of Pinehurst.


As a result, Pinehurst planners chose vinyl siding as a prominent component of The Carolina’s exterior cladding to preserve all of the character and charm of the original wood clapboard. But, unlike wood, vinyl siding isn’t nearly as vulnerable to the elements so it will stand the test of time. What Pinehurst residents and visitors see today — and what generations will look at in the next century — is what James Walker Tufts saw the day he opened The Carolina in 1901.


“We have a lot of architectural eye candy here,” says Andrea Correll, AICP, director of planning and inspections for the Village of Pinehurst. “There’s a strong sense of place that we protect by focusing on what’s important — the look and the character of our buildings. If materials were the only factor, we’d require builders to use square nails.”


When the Village of Pinehurst first opened, it also featured residential cottages. Some of the earlier homes, like Hale Cottage (circa 1895) and White Shingles Cottage (circa 1911) also have been restored with certified vinyl siding and/or injection-molded polypropylene. Vinyl shakes have the authentic appearance of rugged, hand-cut cedar but without the maintenance and cost associated with wood.


Vinyl siding manufacturers know that distinctive designs cannot be achieved with siding profiles alone. Trim and accessories complete the design vision and enhance all architectural styles. Virtually any type of trim or accessory that has been traditionally produced in wood is now available to coordinate with vinyl siding. After all, what would restoration of a Colonial Revival be without its broken arch pediment or shutters? A Victorian without its gingerbread gable trim? Or a Georgian without its heavy cornice of dentil molding?


In addition to its durability, low maintenance and beauty, using certified vinyl siding qualifies for points toward the ANSI approved ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard.


Vinyl siding now offers a broad and ever-increasing spectrum of attractive colors too — more than any other pre-finished cladding on the market today — capable of matching almost any taste or architectural style. The industry’s investment in advanced color formulations includes constant testing in the most challenging climates to meet or exceed the industry standards for color retention of solid (ASTM D6864) or multi-hued (variegated) (ASTM D7251) colors. More than 350 vinyl siding colors have been certified for their color retention — from varying shades of white to deep reds, blues, greens and everything in between.


Pinehurst Village isn’t the only community that knows vinyl siding is a quality choice. Albany, New York’s Historic Resources Commission approved the use of vinyl siding on homes neighboring the Capitol building’s historic district. Because vinyl siding manufacturers can engineer products specifically designed to replicate the details of a historic home, once prevalent restricted use mandates are easing.

The possibilities are as limitless as the remodeler’s imagination.


VSI’s free resource called Designing Style: A Guide to Designing with Today’s Vinyl Siding is designed to help remodelers specify vinyl and other polymeric siding, architectural trim and accessories. An entire section is dedicated to architectural style to help remodelers, builders and architects recreate historic house designs. Visit vinylsiding.org/DESIGN to get a free copy and watch webinars on-demand.


About the Vinyl Siding Institute

The Vinyl Siding Institute Inc., located in Washington, D.C., is the trade association for manufacturers of vinyl and other polymeric siding and suppliers to the industry. VSI is the sponsor of the VSI Product Certification Program and the VSI Certified Installer Program. For more information, visit www.vinylsiding.org and follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/vinylsidinginfo.