Sponsored: Engineered Wood Siding Helps Protect the Building Envelope

How this durable material offers performance designed for peace of mind

If siding fails, moisture and pests can intrude into the interior and seriously damage the home. Builders know that the siding’s visual appeal won’t last if the material isn’t rugged enough to withstand the elements. Prospective buyers likewise want strong exterior protection for the home’s building envelope, while providing the beautiful curb appeal they desire. If the materials are more green and earth-friendly, even better!

In 2010, vinyl was the most popular material for exterior cladding in new single-family homes with a 30% market share. Today, that market share has dropped dramatically and the fastest growing competitive material is engineered wood.

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There are a number of reasons for vinyl’s decline. Environmentally responsible homeowners know that manufacturing vinyl produces carcinogens like dioxin plus the sulfur dioxide that contributes to acid rain and smog. In the event of a house fire, vinyl siding can release high levels of lethal chemical vapors.

The main component in vinyl siding is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and Greenpeace estimates that less than 1% of all PVC gets materially recycled. Most of it goes to landfills, where it doesn’t biodegrade. Ingesting small shards of discarded vinyl can be fatal to animals. On the other hand, engineered wood is sustainable, recyclable and renewable.

Vinyl siding also offers relatively poor durability. Let’s take a closer look at the engineering innovations that are making engineered wood siding a more rugged option than vinyl.

Engineered Wood: Designed For Durability

While polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in vinyl siding hasn’t changed much since it was first patented in 1913, engineered wood is continuously being improved and enhanced. For example, LP® SmartSide® siding products are strengthened by a proprietary process that provides four components of protection: waxes, resins, zinc borate and overlay. This helps LP SmartSide siding withstand impacts and much more.

Here are some of the ways that engineered wood siding offers greater durability than vinyl:

Warp resistance from heat and sun – While vinyl can crack from heat and sun exposure, engineered wood products like LP SmartSide siding prevent damage with industrial-strength binders and resins.

Protection against hail – More than 5,600 hail storms hit the United States every year—with many of them arriving in the “Hail Zone” that stretches from Texas to North Dakota. LP SmartSide products outperformed vinyl siding in tests conducted at the National Wind Institute’s Debris Impact Facility at Texas Tech University.

In the testing, vinyl siding was fractured by 1.25-inch hail at 84 feet/second. LP SmartSide siding showed no signs of impact after being struck by 1.75-inch hail at 118 feet/second. That’s why the product now has a warranty for hail damage.

Overall impact resistance – Hail isn’t the only projectile that can damage home siding. Rocks, golf balls and baseballs can also do plenty of damage. NASA recently conducted impact testing that revealed that a golf ball traveling at 63 miles per hour and a baseball thrown at 77 miles per hour left no visible damage to engineered wood siding. In contrast, most homeowners have witnessed firsthand how a rock thrown from a lawnmower can cause surface damage to vinyl siding. Moreover, it can’t be repaired easily. The entire vinyl plank must be replaced.

Withstanding high winds – Some engineered wood lap siding products are engineered to withstand storms with wind gusts up to 200 mph. This durability was put to the test when Hurricane Ivan struck Florida and Alabama.

According to FEMA’s Mitigation Assessment Team report following Hurricane Ivan, performance of vinyl siding was “very poor.” The report also cited damage to homes’ building envelopes, saying “there were significant failures on both new and old buildings. When vinyl siding was blown off, the underlayment (either felt or housewrap) was often blown away. With loss of the siding and underlayment, wind-driven rainwater was then able to enter the wall cavity, causing water damage and initiating mold growth. Vinyl siding that became windborne debris was capable of breaking unprotected glazing.”

In contrast, the FEMA report noted that “the wind performance of wood siding was typically very good. Loss of wall siding was very rare. The generally good performance of wood and board siding is likely due to their inherent strength and stiffness. Low-energy missiles can easily penetrate vinyl siding, but wood siding is quite resistant.”

Today’s discerning homeowners want siding that’s beautiful, but not if the manufacturing process produces deadly toxins and other environmental problems. They also know that the long-lasting beauty desired can vanish quickly if the siding isn’t durable. For these reasons, many are choosing engineered wood siding. It’s a responsible choice that offers greater durability than vinyl.

One of the best ways to protect a home is to choose rugged engineered wood siding: sustainable, renewable and recyclable.