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Price, less maintenance is key for siding customers

Siding companies try to offer alternatives

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Ask professional remodelers, and they’ll tell you an exterior replacement project is one of the most valuable improvements a homeowner can complete on a home.

Not only do new exterior siding, windows and doors add to a home’s curb appeal and make a favorable first impression on visitors, they have a solid return on investment.

According to a 2014 cost-versus-value report published in Remodeling magazine, more than 70 percent of the cost to replace siding, on average, is recovered when the home is sold. Nationwide, a new steel entry door has an average payback of more than 96 percent of cost, while the cost-value ratio for new windows approaches 80 percent.

Brian Zumhof, owner-operator of Ideal Window, Siding and Doors in Marion, said many of his customers want all three of these projects done at the same time.

A typical exterior home renovation project may include a mixture of siding, natural or cultured stone, and shingles or shakes.

“Designers and architects will tell you that three different textures and three different colors make for an attractive home,” Zumhof said. “We’ll create a palette for the house that is appealing to the eye.”

Zumhof started Ideal in 1991 as a building materials supplier. Over the years, the company evolved into construction and remodeling, with installations now making up 60 percent of the business.

With the exception of stone installation, which is subcontracted to a mason, the company generally handles all the work on a project.

R&P Construction of Cedar Rapids also handles complete home exterior renovations, including siding, windows, doors and decks. Other than some gutter work that is subcontracted, R&P also performs all its own work, co-owner Paul Kaune said.

For a siding replacement project, tasks include removing the old siding, installing flashing around windows and doors, making sure everything is sealed and installing the new siding.

Vinyl is king

When choosing replacement siding for their home exterior renovations, Kaune’s and Zumhof’s customers have a number of alternatives. Not surprisingly, the most popular are those that require little upkeep.

“The vast majority of people are interested in maintenance-free siding,” Zumhof said. “They are looking for longevity, form and function, and vinyl siding serves that purpose.”

One huge advantage of vinyl siding is its price.

“Vinyl is probably 90 percent of all of our business now,” Kaune said. “Other siding materials like cedar and steel have grown so enormously costly that they aren’t really an option any more around here.”

While vinyl siding once was considered a cheap-looking product not suitable for historic or upscale neighborhoods, today’s vinyl looks more expensive and comes in a variety of styles.

Vinyl siding made to look like wood clapboard panels, cedar shingles or even stone gives homeowners a budget-friendly way to create custom, mixed-material looks.

Although it typically runs 25 percent more than standard vinyl siding, insulated or foam-backed vinyl siding also has become a popular choice. About 80 percent of Zumhof’s customers will upgrade to insulated siding for its durability and energy-saving properties.

“It adds about an R4.5 (insulation value) to the house,” Zumhof said. “Unlike regular vinyl siding, an insulated board has structural integrity. It can take a hailstorm and won’t be affected.”

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