These days, low-maintenance siding is one of the most popular trends in home exteriors. And nearly every siding manufacturer is touting the low-maintenance aspects of their cladding materials. Unfortunately, there are no industry standards around low-maintenance claims, and therefore no way for buyers to fully understand what “low maintenance” truly means when it comes to individual products.
The Challenge of “Low Maintenance” Siding
Without a universal approach or definition of low maintenance, it’s important for pros and DIYers to ask questions and understand how each manufacturer defines low-maintenance for their siding products.
Here are some areas to watch out for.
Low-maintenance siding means different things to different manufacturers
When trying a new material, always research a manufacturer’s maintenance claims, including reading the warranty, and compare it to other materials. Don’t take claims at face value without inquiring for greater detail.
This graphic from the Vinyl Siding Institute provides an example of how maintenance needs vary from material to material.
Moisture resistance and its impact on low maintenance siding
Often seen in concert with low maintenance, moisture resistance is another term often used but not always defined clearly. For example, some fiber cement products claim to be “moisture resistant,” but also cannot be installed against moisture-prone areas like the masonry or the ground. Compare that to vinyl siding or TruExterior poly-ash siding, both of which can be installed directly against those elements.
Moisture is one of the biggest challenges homeowners face when it comes to siding performance and longevity, so understand how each siding material handles moisture and be sure to adjust installation practices and maintenance expectations accordingly.
Maintenance doesn’t just impact the material itself
When investigating low-maintenance siding, consider the other products used in its installation. For example, if a cladding requires caulking to prevent moisture from infiltrating the cladding layer, that caulk is a secondary maintenance liability, requiring regular inspection and replacement before the siding’s life span is complete.
Read the fine print on painting
Some siding warranties are divided into categories, with different guarantees for product life span versus details like color and fading. For example, if you compare Royal’s and Exterior Portfolio’s surface finish coverage versus a fiber cement manufacturer’s prefinished offering, Royal and Exterior Portfolio both offer a Double Lifetime Warranty with fade coverage of 3 or 4 Hunter units, depending on the color, while the fiber cement product carries just a 15-year warranty for chipping and flaking, but only covers fade of up to 4 Delta E for only three years. This means homeowners may need to repaint their fiber cement in a few years if they wish to maintain a color close to what they purchased.
The Importance of Low-Maintenance Siding
Homeowners are increasingly seeking exterior cladding materials that don’t require frequent painting, caulking, and other maintenance. And for many, it’s worth additional upfront investment to avoid those hassles. That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence when considering new materials and truly understand what the manufacturer is claiming when they describe their product as low maintenance. Doing so can not only ensure that the siding meets customers’ expectations, but that they know what to expect for future maintenance expenses. This is particularly important for multifamily properties, where building management and HOAs need to prepare for future assessments for large-scale painting and exterior maintenance.
Have questions about the maintenance needs for Westlake Royal Building Products’ portfolio of siding materials? Contact us today.