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Aluminum Siding: Still a popular finish for your house

In spite of the numerous siding materials on the market, ranging from faux stone, to vinyl log panels, brick facing, and the always popular vinyl siding, aluminum siding remains an inexpensive and durable solution that is readily available and is suitable for almost any climate.

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In spite of the numerous siding materials on the market, ranging from faux stone, to vinyl log panels, brick facing, and the always popular vinyl siding, aluminum siding remains an inexpensive and durable solution that is readily available and is suitable for almost any climate.

Today the world's number one producer of aluminum siding is Alcoa. Other widely recognized manufacturers include, Alsco, Revere, Reynolds and Gentek Building Products.

Aluminum siding is similar in appearance to vinyl in that it is made in sheets that fit together by overlapping and locking each panel onto the one below it.  Also, like vinyl, aluminum can be produced with a wide variety of finishes and was, in fact, the first “imitation wood” siding.  It comes in almost any color or can be delivered in a neutral finish and painted on site. Most, however, find that it really doesn't cost any more to have the siding factory finished. Also, the factory finish is likely to be more durable than an onsite coating. However, since the material is metal, you may need to apply a fresh coat of paint occasionally;  the surface is easy to wash, and the paint adheres easily.

A primary complain against aluminum siding is that it dents easily. Until it is installed, it is true that the material is rather fragile. It is not a project for the lone do-it-yourself person as you will need help to keep the panels from creasing while you are lifting them into place, not to mention the fact that they are heavier than vinyl panels.  A sharp blow on an installed panel can also cause a dent, but it is often possible to pull out a dent or to simply install a short piece of a new panel over the damaged section without replacing an entire panel.

Some homeowners feel that aluminum is easier to clean than vinyl as you can simply hose it off and remove any stains with a mild abrasive. Unlike wood, it won’t rot, and unlike vinyl,  it is not susceptible to blistering in hot weather. In certain warm, humid climates, it may be subject to corrosion, but your local supplier can tell you how to prevent that.  It is also impervious to termites and will not burn or melt.

You should maintain your aluminum siding by annually hosing it off and by cleaning any surface stains, such as grass stains, with a non-abrasive cleaner.

Like any finish exposed to bright sun, the paint may fade in color over time. Professional builders say that when it is time to paint your siding, you should stay away from latex primers because these contain ammonia which will bubble up when it contacts oxidized aluminum. These tiny gas bubbles may be invisible to your eye, but you may have a difficult time getting the paint to stick. Thus, you would need to repaint again sooner than you might like to.  You should use a thinned oil based primer if the siding needs to be primed at all.

If you do use primer, you will want to apply the paint within 48 hours of the time the primer has been applied. Use a 100% acrylic latex house paint containing a high volume of resin. The more resin, the higher the quality of the paint, and the longer it will last.

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