No Maintenance Exteriors?

I’ve received some flak recently from purveyors of vinyl siding. Those of you who follow my blog know I hate vinyl siding. It poisons people when it’s made, and when you’re done with it, you have to send it to the dump because it’s not recycled. Furthermore, while it’s on your house, you are deluded into thinking you have a “no-maintenance exterior.” I hate to shatter the illusion, but that simply doesn’t exist.

My house is a 1957 split level. Originally, it had wood siding on it. Some areas were in a board and baton style, and other areas were long lengths of pretty cedar siding with an eight-inch reveal. What’s more, the patterns of the original siding highlighted the low-slung style of this house.

Sometime in the past, the wooden siding was replaced with aluminum siding with an eight-inch reveal. Then, sometime in the 1980s, the aluminum was taken off the exterior walls but left on the underside of the eaves and on the fascia boards. Next, vinyl siding with a four-inch reveal and fake wood texture was used to replace the aluminum siding on the walls.

I’ve noticed that water has been getting under the vinyl for many years, and I’ve been on several detective missions trying to locate the source of the problem, so I can buy a little time before taking on the large re-siding project that the house needs. The evidence is in the following areas:

  • The window jambs are rotting at the bottom and inside, even though there are open weep holes.
  • Inside, the wallpaper under the windows is peeling off.
  • There is an odor of mildew in the areas of the windows on rainy days.
  • There are active leaks when the wind pushes the rain.
  • How the heck did the rain get in? Check out the photos.

    Ideally, your house should be able to float if you put it upside down in a big lake. That would mean it is water- and airtight. Very few homes are even close to that tight, but they can and should be tight enough to direct water out of and away from themselves.

    You can see from the photos that the light-colored siding is in no way waterproof. Remember water in the form of rain will usually come from above. So any lips or edges should be angles to direct the water down and away. You can see not only does my siding have edges and lips to catch the rain, it has HUGE GAPS to bring it under the siding and into the house.

    Contrast the detailing on the vinyl and aluminum siding with that of the wood siding, which is a dark olive color. See any gaps in the wood siding? Nope. And when one opens up in a few years, we’ll notice it and give it some caulk and paint, making it good for many more years. Unlike the vinyl siding.