Paint or vinyl siding. Help me decide.
May 8, 2008 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Paint or vinyl siding. Help me decide. My home is in desperate need of painting. If I paint, there will be a lot of prep work required as I would want to strip most of the paint which has alligatored. I am thinking about Vinyl siding. Can anyone share with me why I should or should not do this or what I may want to consider?

My home is in desperate need of painting. If I paint, there will be a lot of prep work required as I would want to strip most of the paint which has alligatored. I am thinking about Vinyl siding.
Can anyone share with me why I should or should not do this or what I may want to consider?
posted by citybuddha to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you plan to own your home for a long time, one issue with any kind of artificial siding is that if there is any water infiltration (and there will be at least a little), the damage that the water may be doing to the wooden structural members of the house will be concealed. Wooden siding will be much more likely to reveal that sort of internal damage (as the water seeps back out through the wood).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2008

Siding tends to hide any rot that may be occurring in the wood underneath.

Plus, personal aesthetics bring me to seethe at the very mention of siding. I know a lot of people feel this way, and you may be cutting off part of your market should you ever want to sell the place.
posted by notsnot at 6:10 AM on May 8, 2008

I have no evidence to back this up, but I've seen vinyl siding get brittle and ashy over time. It's not cheap, but it looks and sounds cheap to me.

If you're doing the painting yourself, it will be cheaper. If the underlying wood is in good shape, I would go with painting. Invest in an electric sander with a vacuum attachment. Scrape off what comes off easily and sand away.

Easy for me to say since I live in a condo...
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on May 8, 2008

I've seen vinyl siding get brittle and ashy over time.

Oh, that is another good point. Vinyl is advertised as "permanent" but it certainly starts to look pretty shitty after about 10 or 15 years (and like notsnot, I think it looks shitty as soon as it goes up, but that's a personal thing). If your plans are to own the house for longer than that, you should consider at least one full replacement of the vinyl in your cost analysis.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:17 AM on May 8, 2008

It depends on your home and neighborhood. If you have a hundred year old home in a neighborhood filled with such homes, vinyl siding should be a crime punishable by dismemberment.

However, if you live in the burbs, or in an area with newer homes vinyl away. With a Victorian, it goes against the aesthetic. With a home built in the last couple decades, it is the aesthetic.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:19 AM on May 8, 2008

One thing to consider is future repairs or modifications. Siding will age and fade. So unless you have no objection to a multicolor repair...

Historical and or architectural considerations should also be considered. Will your house or neighborhood still look good when covered with vinyl? One thing that bothers me is to see a house with some nice architectural finish slathered in vinyl without regard for whether or not the house should be clapped or shingled, shingle patterns covered, and the house loses its spirit.
posted by Gungho at 6:20 AM on May 8, 2008

if you've got the bucks, go with hardipanel -- it's a cement-based siding that you can paint like wood (but it holds paint for much much longer than wood) but lasts a long time like vinyl/aluminum siding. i just had part of my house re-done in it -- they had to tear the old vinyl siding off to replace the porch, and rather than replace it with new vinyl siding, we went with hardipanel. it looks great, and from what i've seen of other houses, it holds up well. seems to be the link for the manufacturer.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:25 AM on May 8, 2008

Previously very recently.

I'm not sure where you live but here in Chicago, if done properly, a quality paint job should last 10-15 years.

Pro's to siding:

- Doesn't peel like paint will eventually.
- Will last longer than a paint job if installed properly.
- Depending on the installation (with foam board, for example), it can offer some weather resistance.

Con's to siding:

- You will probably lose some architectural details on the house, including having to have the trim around the windows redone or (in some cases) hacked up. Siding is standard, old houses are not. They force the house to fit the siding, and this generally means cutting stuff up.
- Environmental issues with the manufacture of siding. Siding doesn't last forever. It may last longer than a paint job if installed correctly, but it will have to be repaired and replaced periodically. Then the siding goes into a landfill and you have to put more siding on because putting back the wood features of the house that were carved up from the installing the first siding is too cost-prohibitive.
-If installed incorrectly (far too easy to install it INcorrectly), it can create more problems than it solves. Trap moisture between the siding and the wood, for example, and create mold and rot. I've seen this and it can get very ugly. Of course, these are problems that you won't see until they are pretty far along because it's behind the siding.
-Siding will dent and crack. And dents and cracks are difficult, if not impossible, to repair. When this happens you live with it looking terrible or you have to replace that piece.
-If you live in a neighborhood where people value homes with character, siding will decrease (not increase) the value of the house.

Future homeowners will probably curse your name as "that d*mned previous owner that installed the crappy siding", especially if you have a super cute house with architectural elements (like a Victorian or Bungalow). If the house is pretty nondescript and you aren't concerned with aesthetics AND you have a very reputable installer with a long track record, that would put more pro's in the pro column.
posted by jeanmari at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I should clarify that I ALWAYS prefer paint over siding.
posted by jeanmari at 6:28 AM on May 8, 2008

Right at this minute I've got an army of dudes with hammers tearing the vinyl siding off of my house. Whether or not it looks nice when it is new is a personal taste issue -- but I can tell you for a fact that a few years down the road it looks like crap. Different sides of your house turn different colors based on the amount of sun they get. If you have dogs, they'll scratch it up. Up close, it looks cheap and feels like a mobile home. A heavy wind can blow huge chunks loose, and it will just swing there looking trashy until the installer comes back to "fix" it. The stuff they use to trim around windows is atrocious.

If your wood siding is in good shape except for the paint, I would highly recommend keeping it.
posted by spilon at 6:49 AM on May 8, 2008

I would go with the Hardipanel siding if you can afford it. It looks like wood, but it is much tougher. It's becoming very popular.

Vinyl siding has always looked incredibly "cheap" to me, even though it isn't. When we got an estimate for our little 950 sq. ft. house in St. Louis for siding it was well above $10,000. Having the house professionally painted was around $1500. That included powerwashing, scraping, caulking - all of the prep work too.
posted by Ostara at 6:51 AM on May 8, 2008

A lot of people, including me, think vinyl siding is ugly. When I was looking to buy a house a few years ago, whenever I saw a house with vinyl I had to factor in the cost of ripping it off and residing. So I guess it's a question of how much other people's opinions matter to you, and what you think the effect on the resale might be (as well as the other practical matters mentioned above).
posted by unSane at 6:51 AM on May 8, 2008

Lots on the human health (on the manufacturing end) and environmental impact of vinyl siding in the documentary Blue Vinyl.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:13 AM on May 8, 2008

We have vinyl siding. We've had water issues because it was installed improperly and without a vapor barrier. Also, we have to have it power washed professionally every other year because our house is mainly in the shade, and it gets covered with mossy stuff. I assume this would also happen with a different form of siding, but the fact that I have to pay to have this done (because the house is too tall to do it ourselves safely, really), seems to negate what I would have thought the cost savings involved in not painting it would be. If that makes sense.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:42 AM on May 8, 2008

What's the cost of ripping off the wood and going with a cement siding like Hardi? I used it when we built our house - we used the smooth face (no cheap looking, faux-wood grain) and it holds paint incredibly well, weathers beautifully, and has minimal shrink so caulk joints don't open up at all.
posted by docpops at 8:00 AM on May 8, 2008

Vinyl siding usually looks tacky. Depending upon your neighborhood it could decrease the resale value of your home. If you have wood, your house will look best if you go through the effort of prepping and painting. Exceptions, if you live in a neighborhood filled with vinyl sided houses, yours won't stick out. Also, if you live in a shore community and you will properly prep your house prior to installing the siding its low maintenance might very well outweigh its appearance (and better vinyl siding is getting pretty close in appearance to real wood these days). In any event, there are better options as others have already pointed out.
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on May 8, 2008

You've got an army of people telling you what a pain vinyl is for the next home owners. I have to add to the pile.

I once owned a home built in the early '60s (they were all made out of ticky tacky...) and it had yellow vinyl siding on half the house.

The siding trapped moisture underneath, giving us quite a few problems. When I went to paint the non-vinyl half, it was obvious that all the previous owners had issues matching the color as it faded (what goes with pale yellow? Lime, pink, khaki, orange, mustard, more pink). Birds and small creatures had found ways to, over time, work their way into edges, separating it from the house. The texture of it allowed moss and other icky stuff to cling to it, making it look horrible.

After that experience, I'd never buy a house with vinyl siding unless I had the cash to rip it off and refinish the fascia.
posted by Gucky at 9:39 AM on May 8, 2008

Freshly installed, well-installed vinyl siding looks okay. My house has 20+ year old vinyl, and it looks sort of worn-out, but not awful. It doesn't age very well. I like docpops idea of re-siding with cement board.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 AM on May 8, 2008

I've been a professional (and quality) house painter for years, and I can tell you that if you decide to paint, especially if your house is alligatoring, it is well worth your time and money to purchase this tool:

It's expensive, but it will literally remove 95% of the paint from your house, and you can suck it straight into a vacuum cleaner and dump it into a trash bag. You're gonna need to do some sanding afterwards, cause it can chew the wood up a bit. For that I recommend a milwaukee angle grinder with between 24-50 grit sanding discs. An added bonus is that the paintshaver retains much of it's value, so you can turn around and unload it on ebay for 400-500 bucks when you're done with it.

You're going to save yourself a ton of money in the long run because you're taking all the paint off right down to the wood, so you can be guaranteed that old, loose, problem paint will not "pop" your new paintjob. Your house will look like it's got brand new clapboards!

Finally, don't cheap out on the paint. The cheaper the paint you buy (despite common opinion, Behr and Glidden are not good paints) the less "solids" they add, and the more water you're getting with the product. My recommendations are Sherwin Williams SuperPaint or (my personal favorite) California 2010. Do not waste your money or time purchasing paint from Home Depot or Lowes, go to a paint store and talk to people who know their stuff. While I like California 2010 the most, the guys over at Sherwin Williams are great people and they generally know what they're talking about.

A good "paint shaving" followed by some sanding and a solid coat of primer and 2010 and your house will be set for YEARS.
posted by Glendale at 10:33 AM on May 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

Please resist the urge to cover your house in what is essentially plastic. You can call it wahtever you like, grain it with any pattern on God's green earth, and even paint over it, and you're still covering your house in some form of chemically manufactured plastic. Grody.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:53 AM on May 8, 2008

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