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Estimating Tips for Vinyl Siding

For homes built before the 1950's the popular choice for siding was stucco, wood and brick. Stucco was especially popular in the south and southwest whereas wooden clapboard and brick was more seen in the northern states. Wood required the most maintenance whereas brick could last up to fifty years before needing to be repointed.

In the 1950's aluminum siding began pushing the other three aside because of these qualities:

  • Aluminum siding was low maintenance
  • It came pre-colored
  • Unlike the other types of siding aluminum siding could be installed in a couple of days
  • Aluminum siding withstood water and rot.

However, within a few after it became popular the faults of aluminum siding began to surface. The colored coating on the aluminum was found to fade and the siding was easily dented. Coated steel was another product that surfaced but its coating faded as easily as the painted aluminum and rust could set in if the siding was nicked.

Vinyl Makes Headway

The introduction of vinyl siding revolutionized home building because it was inexpensive, easy to install and came in a wide variety of colors. Today, almost half of the new homes in the country are sided with a vinyl product.

Measuring is Not Magic

When measuring a home for siding it doesn't matter whether a homeowner is planning to use vinyl, steel, aluminum, stucco or wood calculating the amount of material needed is based on the square footage of the area to be covered. Not only does the area define the amount of material needed but it also is important in figuring out the labor costs.

The vast majority of homes in the country are made up of a series of geometric shapes: rectangles squares and triangles. The walls up to the gables are usually rectangular whereas the gable ends are triangles. Finding the area is basic geometry:

Triangle: Height X Width X 1/ 2

Rectangle: Height X Width

The Process of Measuring

1. Pencil and Graph Paper: The best way to measure a large structure is to break it up into smaller components. Graph paper and a few sharp pencils are all that is needed to get down all the figures and try to get as close to scale as possible. That is, use one square per foot. For the best results in measuring use a 100-foot land surveying tape measure. However, a regular tape measure will do and a stiff metal tape is best for vertical measurements.

2. Choose Sides: Measure one side at a time and get in every detail beginning at the front and working clockwise. After the horizontal measurements have been taken draw in the shape including the window measurements. This is because J-moldings, borders for the vinyl siding, are needed to frame in the windows and cladding labor may be needed to build out the window frames as the siding and wall leveler will add a few inches to the thickness. J-channel also goes along the top of the and.F-molding holds in the soffits on each side.

3. Home Features: Houses sometimes have external features like exposed pipe stacks, shutters and electrical masts that can impede a siding job. These should be drawn in as moving them will require extra labor. In some cases a licensed electrician may have to be called in to move the mast and put it back.

4. Unseen Walls: Most homes are not box-shaped. That is, there are areas that are hidden from view like porches or alcoves. These should be noted on the diagram or, if the homeowner is skilled he or she could draw a 3-D diagram that shows them.

5. Add The Shapes: Once the sides of the home are drawn the rectangles and triangular shapes can be turned into square footage and this defines the amount of siding that is needed whether it is stucco, vinyl or wood.

6. Extra Pieces: Corner, inner corners, soffits, fascia, gutters, downspouts, J-channel, F-molding and starter strips can be measured in linear feet. Each diagram will have these measurements. Most of these pieces are sold in ten to twelve-foot pieces and so the price can be figured out by checking with the building supply store. For example if the heights of the corners are nine-feet high and one piece of vinyl corner is sold in ten-foot lengths then each corner would require one piece.

7. Find the Sum: If the total area is 1650 square feet add another 10% for wastage, and this would equal 1875 square feet. If siding strips are $85 per 100 square feet then the cost would be 18.75 X $85 = $1593.75. Add the outside corners, inside corners, gutters, soffits, fascia, downspouts, starter strip, F-moldings and J-channel.

8. Installation Materials: Vinyl siding has to be installed on a completely flat surface so for uneven walls there is a wall leveling board made from dense foam. This leveling panel will not only provide a flat surface but also adds R-value to the home. The popular leveling panel is about 3/8-inch thick and will add another $300 to the project. Special nails will be needed for the siding and smaller ones for the fascia.

By taking a bit of time to get an estimate for the materials a homeowner has a standard for evaluating quotes from siding contractors.

For professional results for a siding job consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online and get some free estimates.

Posted by: kim
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