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Retrofitting Siding
By Dermot Mack

Theme is mix-and-match to change look and performance of the exterior package.


RJR Construction Management of Vancouver used a mix of sidings - from stucco to cedar shingles - to upgrade this house exterior.

A range of exterior cladding products is convincing homeowners and renovators to experiment when replacing vinyl siding or upgrading a home's exterior. At the same time, vinyl siding manufacturers are introducing new materials that can improve performance and regain market share.
Vinyl siding has been ubiquitous for many years and, after a drop in sales for two straight years, shipments of vinyl siding are starting to increase, according to the U.S.-based Vinyl Siding Institute. North American sales of vinyl siding totalled 41 million "squares" (100 square feet) last year after falling to 38 million squares in 2001, the lowest level since 1997.
The recovery is not just a reflection of an upturn in new home construction, the Institute contends, but a reaction to better quality vinyl siding, including heavier profiles, more colours and better installation technology.
Still, there appears to be a movement away from vinyl in the renovation market as homeowners and buyers seek a different look. National award-winning renovator Bob Rasmus of Vancouver-based RJR Construction Management Inc. said he often gets requests to strip off vinyl siding when doing exterior renovations. And he welcomes the opportunity.
"You can do a lot and get a much different look by mixing materials," Rasmus said. On one project, for instance, the vinyl siding and stucco exterior was replaced with a darker acrylic stucco, stone trim and cedar shingles. The latter reflects a trend toward the use of natural materials, which is now pronounced in British Columbia.
It takes careful installation when mixing different siding products. For instance, when butting siding with other products like manufactured stone, ensure that you install a moisture barrier behind the stone and that it's flashed so any water is diverted over the top of the stone.

Options
Home builders and renovators are also turning to both hardboard siding, such as Canexel Siding from LP Specialities and Hardiplank cementious siding from James Hardie, both of which can be mixed with other products or used exclusively.
Canexel siding, best known as an engineered wood-based product that looks like conventional wood siding, also offers 4-by-8-foot stucco siding panels. Manufactured in 3/8-inch thickness and with a shiplap edge for rapid installation, the stucco panel comes pre-finished in white and provides the look and performance of hand-trowelled stucco at lower costs.
Hardiplank is so popular it has been used on an estimated 3.5 million North American homes. It is more expensive than vinyl but about the same price as hardboard.
Stone products such as those from Arriscraft of Cambridge, Ontario, offer a wide range of textures, colours, sizes and finishes through a national distribution network.

Installing energy-saving underlay for vinyl siding

Better vinyl
However, renovators can upgrade to vinyl and still stay both green and affordable. A prime example is Duraplank reinforced siding, from Royal Building Products of Woodbridge, Ontario, which may be the thickest and toughest vinyl siding on the market. With a .054-inch gauge it exceeds ASTM impact standards by 300 per cent and comes in a seven-inch profile which looks a lot like solid cedar panels. An Energy Star rated product, Duraplank's rigidity lies in its extruded foam backing that snaps into place.
Another innovation aimed at the siding retrofit market is GreenGuard from Pactiv, an all-plastic underlayment that provides a smooth base for replacement siding. It comes with grids for easy mounting and won't tear, dent or crack and provides insulation. According to Pactiv, it can even be installed over old vinyl siding.
New vinyl products also give a much more realistic wood grain for renovators looking for a natural look. Toronto-based Kaycan, for example, even has a vinyl siding that looks like old wooden fish scales. Used mostly for trim, it comes in white, linen, sandalwood and grey.
Other manufacturers, such as Gentek, Mitten, Plastmo Ltd. and Vytec, offer a huge range of dark and light colour vinyl siding and a selection of profiles. Vytec has both a dutchlap profile that gives shading definition to a wall and even a cedar-shake look profile that looks and even feels like cedar.
The aim, manufacturers say, is to provide a different look to a house while still offering the economy of vinyl.
Gentek has gone right after the "mix and match" siding market, in fact, by offering 12 colours of siding, soffit and accessories that all match each other in its Colour Clear Through system.

Residing with vinyl
Vinyl siding can be tricky to install as a residing project, and it starts with getting the platform prepared. Scrape off loose caulk and re-caulk around windows, doors and other areas to prevent moisture penetration and remove all the gutters, downspouts, light fixtures and vent covers. Finally, check that all the walls are even and, if necessary, install furring strips.
Choose aluminum, galvanized steel or other corrosion-resistant nails, staples, or screws to fasten the siding. Ensure panels are fully locked along the length of the bottom, but don't force them up tight or stretch the panels upward before nailing.
Do not drive the head of the fastener tightly against the siding nail hem; instead leave a minimum of 1/32" (the thickness of a dime) between the fastener head and the vinyl siding to prevent panel buckling as temperatures change. Start fastening in the centre of the panel and work toward the ends.
Centre the fasteners in the slots to allow for expansion and contraction. (Start fastening vertical siding and corner posts in the top of the uppermost slots to hold them in position. Place all other fasteners in the center of the slots.)
Drive fasteners straight and level to prevent panel distortion and buckling.
Space fasteners a maximum of 16 inches apart for the horizontal siding panels, every 12 inches apart for vertical siding panels, and every eight to 10 inches apart for accessories. HB


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