For homeowners looking for a low maintenance siding they can install anywhere on their home, vinyl often looks like a good choice. On paper, vinyl siding is low maintenance, durable, doesn’t require painting or scraping, and should be able to be easily cleaned.
In reality, however, vinyl is usually anything but durable or low maintenance. The material is really just a type of thick, high quality plastic, so it’s subject to many of the same issues that other plastics are, such as cracking, warping, and melting.
Vinyl siding has a long history of melting and softening in hot temperatures, including in those areas that see a lot of direct sunlight in high temperature settings, such as Arizona. What many homeowners may not realize, however, is that the material can also melt due to reflected sunlight – a problem that’s actually more likely to occur in cold weather climates.
Insulated Glass and Cold Weather Climates
Houses built in cold climates often suffer from problem such as drafts and high energy bills. So, many homeowners often take steps to help make their homes more comfortable, while lowering those bills at the same time.
One such upgrade that can help with both of those issues is to install energy efficient windows that have been treated with Low-E glass. Energy efficient windows are often double or triple paned and may be filled with argon gas to help stop energy transfer between the outdoors and inside.
The Low-E coating on the glass not only helps to improve energy efficiency for the windows, it also reflects UV rays, keeping them outdoors. This can be beneficial because it helps stop fading inside, while also helping to keep your home cooler during the summer months.
While Low-E glass reflects UV rays and helps prevent them from entering your home, those reflected rays need to go somewhere. Coupled with the fact that many energy efficient windows may bend or concentrate the sun’s rays as they reflect them, the light bouncing off of these windows is often amplified, a little as if it had just passed through a magnifying glass.
For homes located in rural areas or far from other properties, this poses no danger or problem; the light reflects harmlessly back off the windows and dissipates. For homes that are situated close by one another, however, that reflected light ends up bouncing right onto the house next door.
Vinyl Siding and Reflected Sunlight
(Photo by Home Inspector Donald Lovering)
When the reflected sunlight bouncing off of an energy efficient window hits vinyl siding, the heat generated from the reflected light will begin to melt the vinyl. Vinyl is just another form of plastic, and as it begins to heat up, the siding will begin to soften. This in turn leads to not only potential melting of the vinyl, but also warping and distortion of the planks.
It’s been seen in many cold climates, such as in Minnesota; houses placed beside one another, with one home featuring energy efficient windows and one home featuring vinyl siding result in melted or warped vinyl over time. This can occur even in the middle of winter, and because reflected sunlight cannot be easily blocked from the vinyl replacing the material with another siding entirely is the only way to prevent it from happening again.
Get a Better Siding
If you want a truly maintenance free and durable siding that won’t warp or melt no matter what the climate or what type of windows may be installed nearby, consider using steel siding instead. Steel siding doesn’t peel, chip, or crack, and it won’t melt or warp in heat. With steel siding, you can get the same texture and beauty of real wood – including the look of real log siding – but without the need for maintenance and additional care.
Get a truly low maintenance exterior for your home and opt for durable steel siding over vinyl for your façade.