The lifespan of vinyl siding depends on its quality. The brand and grade will determine how long the siding lasts and how long it looks good. Cheap vinyl siding might start to crack and fade after a few years, while high-quality siding can look good for more than 50 years.
Other factors that can influence the lifespan include climate, incidents of extreme weather, maintenance and the quality of installation.
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The Evolution of Vinyl Siding
Compared to other building materials, vinyl siding is relatively new. It was invented in the late 1950s as an alternative to aluminum.
Early vinyl siding was problematic, prone to fading, cracking and sagging. But advances in technology have all but eliminated those problems in mid-grade siding and above. Vinyl siding still won’t last as long as well-maintained wood, but it requires far less upkeep. It almost always outlasts aluminum siding, which has fallen out of fashion.
Today, some 30 percent of U.S. homes have vinyl siding. The rise in popularity is also partially due to improvements to the look of vinyl. Some of the high-end vinyl products convincingly mimic the look of wood or cedar siding.
Vinyl Siding Grades
The quality of vinyl siding is closely related to the thickness, which ranges from 0.35 to 0.55 millimeters (mm). However, products are relatively labeled by their thickness, with manufacturers instead using the following terms:
- Builder’s grade: 0.40 mm
- Thin residential: 0.42 mm
- Standard residential: 0.44 mm
- Thick residential: 0.46 mm
- Super-thick: 0.50 mm
- High-end: 0.54 mm
The minimum thickness used by builders is 0.40 mm. Anything from 0.40-0.45 mm is considered mid-grade, and above 0.45 mm is considered premium. The thicker the vinyl, the longer it will last. Thinner vinyl is also more susceptible to fading, cracking and weather damage.
Cost of Vinyl Siding
Depending on quality, vinyl siding costs anywhere from $3-$7 per square foot installed. Low- and mid-grade vinyl siding falls on the low end of that range, while premium products fall on the high end.
People often ask if premium siding is worth the extra cost. That depends on several factors, including your budget, how long you plan to be in the home, the price of the home, what kind of siding your neighbors have used and more. Mid-grade siding is usually sufficient for the average family home, although premium siding is a better investment in high-end neighborhoods. Avoid anything thinner than 0.40 mm – it will not hold up.