High-End Vinyl Siding
Much of our siding industry
appears to be based around imitating old-fashioned wood siding while trying
to get away from the maintenance and aging of wood. Fibre cement has often
claimed the honours in the durability category but it still has to be painted
and repainted. Vinyl has won much of the market because of cost, but often
it starts out or ends up looking cheap.
This year Royal Building Products has launched a contender on all fronts. As the manufacturer's literature says: "For the first time, a vinyl siding panel offers the look and feel of real wood, the impact resistance of fibre cement, as well as the installation ease and maintenance-free qualities of vinyl siding." They claim it is as permanent as -or more so - than brick with a "lifetime transferable warranty".
For the looks, Royal claims a superior anti-fade colour protection. "A realistic single seven-inch profile, which replicates the true width of solid wood panels" does indeed avoid the stacked joint look of the double profiles on traditional single vinyl panels. With a low-gloss cedar wood grain surface, on the wall it does look much more like real wood siding. It comes in 12 colours which, as is usual with vinyl, go all the way through the panel. Scratches may scratch, but they won't change the colour.
One thing we need with vinyl in our climate is thickness and DuraPlank weighs in with a .054-inch-thick panel, making it the thickest panel on the market, according to Royal. When you make a panel seven inches wide, even with that thickness, it is going to sway into the wall, so Royal has added a backer. This time, however, it is a backer that is far more in line with rain screen principles and wall drainage than standard foam backings. Royal's foam backing is ribbed and free floating. It is hung from the top of each panel, just below the nailing line, providing air channels and a drainage path out of the wall, while mechanically backing up the wide vinyl. All this put together allows DuraPlank to exceed the ASTM impact standards by 300 per cent.
Royal didn't want to put all of that into a siding to have it blow off, so they developed what they call the WindLok 265 System, an innovative double nail hem allowing panels to withstand winds up to 265 mph.
We've become a little skeptical about warranties as they often look good until you read the legal document. There are catch clauses that you have to register the warranty within 30 days of installation and register a transfer of ownership within 30 days of the sale of the house, but Royal's claim is "a lifetime, fully transferable non-prorated warranty that protects against colour fading and includes replacement labour costs." Not bad. They have even ventured into extending the warranty to confirmed hail damage, but in this case they will only provide new material, no labour.
With all these features, it is not the least expensive siding on the market. Royal says that you will find it on a price par with fibre cement, before the caulking, priming and painting associated with fibre cement, and very competitive to the pre-finished fibre cement. It is, of course, on the high end of the price scale for vinyl siding.
Siding wouldn't be complete without matching trim, which also comes with the reinforcing drainage system under each piece. Royal thinks they have a real contender here for good looks, low maintenance and durability. HB