How to Make Vinyl Siding Look Good

Let’s face it: vinyl siding often looks bad. At its worst, vinyl siding can appear cheap and impermanent. Because of this, it has developed a bad reputation with a lot of people, and they reflexively try to avoid it.

But vinyl siding has many benefits. It is relatively inexpensive to install, easy to maintain and easy to repair. It’s durable and comes in a wide variety of colors.

Vinyl siding is definitely not appropriate for all cladding applications. But for many homeowners, condominium trustees, and facilities managers vinyl siding can fill a need for a high-value, long-lasting easy-to-maintain wall cladding material.

If vinyl siding makes sense for your project in every way except for how it looks, then this post is for you. Over the course of several successful projects I’ve learned how to make vinyl siding look good. Now I’m going to share those tips and tricks with you.

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How Water Moves: Airflow and Diffusion

Building science and building enclosure consulting is often all about understanding, and controlling, how water moves through a building. Water is the cause of most of the problems we are trying to solve (or, ideally, prevent in the first place). In order to solve those problems, we need to understand how the water is getting to where it is not supposed to be.

Liquid water intrusion into buildings is the main thing to worry about, and there are a number of ways that liquid water can penetrate a building’s defenses. Those pathways, though, will be the subject of a future post. Today, we’re going to focus on the oft-misunderstood water transport mechanisms of airflow and water vapor diffusion.

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UV Stability of Building Materials

An oft-overlooked characteristic of building materials is stability when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light (i.e. sunlight ☀️). Some building materials are specifically intended for long term exposure to UV light, but many are not. Those that are not often have limited periods of time for which they remain stable when exposed to UV, and after that time they may degrade to the point that performance is reduced.

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Brookline Requires Facade Inspections

The Town of Brookline, Massachusetts Building Department requires periodic inspections for multi-family residential buildings in the town. The inspections are required every 5 years, and it is the building owner’s responsibility to apply for inspection and certification.

As part of the application process, the building owner is required to submit reports from experts who have evaluated certain building systems. Among the building systems that must be evaluated every 5 years in Brookline is the facade (exterior walls) including parapets for masonry buildings over 2 stories. The intent of this requirement is to identify and address any falling hazards that may exist.

Per the Brookline Building Commissioner:

…a Facade/Parapet certification for masonry buildings 3 stories or higher must be prepared and submitted by a Licensed Professional (i.e. Structural Eng., Architect) to the Building Department.

Brookline Building Commissioner

To meet Brookline’s requirements the building owner must submit an Application for Certificate of Inspection available from the Town of Brookline Building Department website. Expert reports are to be submitted along with the application.

If you’re a Brookline building owner we would be happy to help with this required facade and parapet certification. Contact us to discuss options or to setup an inspection.