My house is, as you know, 150 years old. It still has its original siding. *gasp* However, the original wood siding is buried under a layer of black tar paper and slathered with asbestos shingle siding. It makes me terribly angry if I think too long about it. I hate, hate, hate the asbestos siding.
My previous landlady, who used to live in this same town as a girl, said that in the early 1960s, a traveling salesman went door to door, peddling the asbestos siding. He must have become a very, very rich man. Every third house in my town has that blasted asbestos siding.
It’s not the dangers of asbestos that I hate (asbestos-cement siding is only toxic when it is crushed and airborne). It the texture, the aethetics, and the maintenance of the junk. It’s like having ripples of ugly eggshells on your house. This stuff is brittle, it is ugly, and it is heavy. Have I mentioned that I hate it like I’ve never hated anything before?
What’s worse, the asbestos siding was slapped up on top of the existing wood siding. So the extra layer protrudes out like an ugly fat lip. And the asbestos smothers all the lovely old wood architecture– the dorian-style corner boards, the elegant Greek Revival fascia, the sweet turns of the eaves– all gone, gone, gone.
Someday we will reside the house. Of course, our focus is on the interior right now. But I have been planning and preparing in my customary way, mulling over what kind of siding would be best and most efficient. After a few years of indecision, I’ve decided on vinyl siding. To be true to the house, I should choose wood… but I know I’ll never have the time to paint the siding every five years. The beauty of vinyl is that it is easy to care for.
If you had asked me 10 years ago about vinyl siding, I would have said NO. The last thing I wanted to do was slop blue or white plastic up on my beautiful house. But vinyl siding has come a long, log way this decade. I drive by and admire new homes with sage green siding, or dark brown siding. It looks fantastic!
So I’ll close with some food for thought with a pros and cons list on vinyl vs. wood siding.
It’s true to the original style of the house
You can paint in any color you like
It won’t warp as readily as vinyl
It’s easy to use and easy to add decorative features
The paint chips
High maintenance: you have to repaint every few years, which adds to the cost and time spent
Can install it yourself
Is cheaper in the long run, but costs a lot up front
Is efficient and very low-maintenance
Is a snap to install
Darker colors fade in the sun; lighter colors yellow in the sun
Can warp with extremes of temperatures
You need special installation tools
You must have insulated walls and a plywood/osb board substrate
Not as versatile as wood
Even the wood-look looks fake
After weighing my options, I think I’ve decided on vinyl. The vast mainteneance efforts for the wood are just too much. I think vinyl wins this round.