Militant preservationists abhor the thought of vinyl siding on historic structures, but the National Park Service (NPS) advises siding and historic buildings can be compatible under certain circumstances. This is good news for people who own or would like to own an older home, but are worried about exterior maintenance demands.
By Kelly Wingard
December 31, 1969
Wood Siding Means Work
Many of the country's historical structures have wooden siding that requires considerable effort to maintain. These buildings often are located in long-neglected, inner-city neighborhoods. Many historic homes are several stories high and coated in layers of peeling paint, which require homeowners to spend countless hours (or considerable dollars) on scaffolding, scraping, priming, and painting--only to repeat the process in a few years.
Siding with History
The NPS, the leading federal agency charged with enforcing national historic preservation laws, publishes technical reports delineating standards and guidelines for preserving our nation's heritage. NPS's Preservation Brief 8, Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings, acknowledges the appeal of using reduced-maintenance siding on older homes.
Although, when practical, NPS prefers historical property to be maintained in its original condition, it permits the use of aluminum and vinyl siding when:
- The existing siding is damaged or deteriorated beyond repair;
- The installation of aluminum or vinyl replacement siding does not irreversibly mar or hide the structure's architectural features; and
- The replacement siding does not alter the building's character, by matching the historical siding in size, profile, and finish.
Siding manufacturers now make vinyl siding that fulfils NPS's third requirement, producing replacement siding that mimics the look of wood with siding colors to match historical palettes. These new vinyl siding options are being manufactured for durability and fade resistance with increased ultraviolet ray protection, prompting some manufacturer's to extend a lifetime guarantee against fading of the siding colors.
SourcesVinyl Siding Institute, Inc.National Park Service Preservation Brief 8: Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic BuildingsWall Street Journal Online: Homeowners and Purists Go Head to Head Over Vinyl SidingGreen Building Solutions: Vinyl Siding Comes of AgeNorandex
About the Author
Kelly Wingard is a homeowner with 30 years of budget-minded decorating and remodeling experience.
*Before you apply any of the advice described on the Hip-home.com website, you should consider if the advice is safe and suitable for your individual home situation and consult experts as necessary to evaluate the suitability for your circumstances.