Vinyl Building Products Take the Cake

by Jon Nunan

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There's a new building material out there, from flooring to fencing, that is taking the home improvement world by storm. That material is vinyl. There's good reason why vinyl building materials are so popular. For starters, vinyl building products are manufactured in a wide variety of colors, textures, and styles. Vinyl building materials are also extremely durable, and can often outlast the materials they are designed to mimic. The most compelling reason vinyl building products are so popular is probably their low-maintenance requirements; when a vinyl building material is installed, it rarely needs any significant attention in the future.

Maintenance-Free Vinyl Building Products
From windows and doors to siding and floors, vinyl building materials are some of the lowest-maintenance products on the market. Unlike wood, vinyl building products are immune to moisture and rot so they never need to be treated. Unlike metal, vinyl doesn't rust, and never needs to be painted. In most cases, the only maintenance that needs to be performed on vinyl building products is a periodic washing to keep up appearances; when you compare that to the painting, staining, finishing, treating, stripping, sanding, and sealing that more traditional building materials require, it's easy to see how vinyl has gained such popularity.

Vinyl Building Materials Are Cost-Effective
Another very compelling aspect of vinyl building products is their overall cost-effectiveness. In some cases, the vinyl alternative to a traditional building material will be cheaper right from the start; however, when purchasing high-quality vinyl building products, the traditional materials are sometimes less expensive. This is where vinyl's true money saving abilities come into play. Even if a vinyl product costs more to install than its traditional alternative, in almost every case, the lowered maintenance and increased life-expectancy of the vinyl product will make up the difference in cost several times over! A vinyl fence, for example, is more expensive to install than a wood fence; but when you consider the amount of painting that a wood fence needs over its lifetime and combine that with the fact that the life expectancy of vinyl fencing is far greater than that of wood fencing (meaning you'll have to completely replace a wood fence at least once before a vinyl fence will wear out), the higher-priced vinyl ends up being a bargain!

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Drawbacks of Vinyl Building Products
While vinyl building materials are chock-full of benefits, there are some drawbacks that homeowners should be aware of before they choose vinyl over another material. In some cases, vinyl alternatives to traditional materials are viewed as less valuable, which can lower the cost to resale value ratio of your installation. It should be noted, however, that high-grade vinyl products are becoming more prized in the building community, and therefore, more valuable in the eyes of prospective homeowners, too.

Though high-end vinyl building products deserve all the praise they get, low-end vinyl products are rightfully called out for their pitfalls. Old, low-quality vinyl building materials that were marketed as "no-maintenance" and were sold with claims of "lasting a lifetime" have long been criticized by the building community and consumers alike for becoming brittle in cold weather, fading dramatically when exposed to sunlight, and for looking a little too fake. These older products did a number on vinyl's reputation, but because manufacturers took the time to fix and/or minimize these problems, high-quality vinyl building materials are now able to live up to some of those old marketing claims. The bottom line is: Vinyl building products are extremely diverse in their manufacture and quality, so opting for a more expensive, higher-end vinyl is generally a good idea whether you're buying siding, fencing, flooring, windows, or any other vinyl product.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.