What You Don’t Know About Vinyl Siding Could Cost You Money

Brian Kirn

When it is time to select an exterior cladding for a home, whether new construction or remodeling, having factual, objective information can help you make an informed decision.  All manufacturers have colorful brochures with glamour shots of homes but we recently found out that our customers wanted something more.

CertainTeed conducts many feedback programs with both contractors and homeowners and the number one request we consistently hear is the need for an educational brochure about vinyl siding.  Given the popularity of vinyl siding, that made perfect sense.

CertainTeed answered that request with our new Vinyl Siding Redefined brochure.  Since exterior cladding remains on a home for a long time, it’s crucial for homeowners to do their ‘homework’ before making so large an investment.  Understanding the comparisons between vinyl and other claddings with regard to cost, maintenance, warranty and aesthetics is critical to making a sound decision about your home, or, if you’re a contractor, in counseling your customers about the product that is best for them.

Today’s vinyl siding is not the same product that first emerged as a replacement for aluminum siding.  It is true that when vinyl siding first appeared in the marketplace the industry experienced some growing pains but, for the most part there were two key reasons why these occurred.  First, installers put the product on the homes using the same methods as they did for aluminum siding. This did not allow the product the needed room to expand and contract with temperature changes, and consequently product failures resulted.  Also, early versions of vinyl siding colors often experienced fading over time due to the lack of fade inhibitors that are routinely used today.   

Needless to say, these early growing pains have long been resolved and vinyl siding has, for sometime, been the number one choice among homeowners for exterior cladding. But despite this, there remain  many misconceptions about vinyl siding – it’s composition, it’s sustainability and life cycle benefits, it’s warranty coverage and it’s cost savings. That is why we produced Vinyl Siding Redefined – to set the record straight.

Brian Kirn is Marketing Manager, Siding Products Group for CertainTeed Corporation

Are We Entering a Decade of Growth for Remodelers

Rosemary Hayn

Rosemary Hayn

Every two years, The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University publishes a report supported by the companies and organizations who participate on two of their committees; the Policy Advisory Board and the Remodeling Futures Steering Committee.

The most recent report, A New Decade of Growth for Remodeling provides some insights that can help building professionals as they continue to struggle with a sluggish housing market.

If you follow the industry to great lengths, as I do, these reports provide a great deal of factual information from an historical perspective but only a small amount of forecast data.

For example, it is a given that older metropolitan areas have older stock that need energy efficiency upgrades while growth areas in the South and West have newer inventory. The number of remodeling opportunities, therefore, will be more abundant in older parts of the country.

When reading this report the questions one should ask are:  What’s new? What’s different? What do I need to know? 

Here are a few highlights:

  • Green projects will continue to provide important growth opportunities.  The results of the National Green Remodeling survey indicate that important projects where homeowners specified green features increased by 25% over all projects. Tax incentives due to energy efficiency, under the Federal Stimulus, helped support that increase.
  • The share of replacement product systems upgrades that support energy efficiency will continue to grow.
  • Energy efficiency upgrades for new and existing homes offers a huge potential for remodelers.
  • With the economic downturn, immigration has slowed but as the economy recovers, new immigrants will contribute greatly to the remodeling industry over the next decade.
  • Homeowners will continue to invest in small upgrades that provide a quicker payback or have incentives attached to them.  With the reduction in the 2011 Economic Stimulus to $500 the projects could remain very small in scope.

From 2000-2005 there was a  7.3 percent growth rate for homeowner improvement spending, followed by a five year trend showing a -1.4 percent in spending.  The report anticipates a 3.5 percent annual growth rate in home improvement spending which puts the 2010-2015 period in the middle of the two previous five year periods.

Also, in the next five years the number of households moving into 55 – 64 and 65+ age ranges will be preparing for retirement.  If they plan to age in place they will, most likely, need to make renovations to their home to improve the energy efficiency and lower the maintenance needs of the structure such as increased insulation or low maintenance exterior cladding. This will be another opportunity for remodelers.

From 2002 – 2007 there was a 23% increase in specialty contractors and self-employed remodelers but since then, remodelers have struggled due to declines in homeowner spending and the increased competition from builders-turned-remodelers. 

What we don’t know, because the data isn’t collected annually, is how many have survived the economic downturn. Clearly those who diversified their services or moved into niche markets, such as energy efficiency upgrades, most likely, have survived.

Rosemary Hayn is Manager, Market Research and Planning for CertainTeed Corporation