Applyling Vinyl or Other Synthetic Materials

2. 10 Common Mistakes People Make While Working on their Historic Building.
        Structures are historic because the materials and craftsmanship reflected in their construction are tangible and irreplaceable evidence of our cultural heritage. Substitute materials subtract from the basic integrity, historically and architecturally, of buildings. Historic materials should be retained whenever possible. Since wood has always been present in abundance in America, there is a richness and diversity of wood sidings in America. Therefore the wood sidings become a recognizable part of the historic character of a building.
       Often, during a restoration project, the replacement of wood siding is deemed necessary because it has deteriorated beyond repair. The concern with using vinyl or other synthetic materials to replace the original materials is a loss or severe diminishing of the unique aspects of the building. Applying synthetic material to a historic building can damage or obscure historic material, and more importantly diminish the historic identity of the building.
     Though installation of artificial siding is thought to be reversible, often there is irreversible damage to the historic materials during the installation process. Furring strips are used to create a flat surface, “accessories” are needed to fit the siding around architectural features, and the existing wall fabric is damaged from the nailing necessary to apply the siding.
       In addition, aluminum and vinyl siding is often applied to buildings in need of maintenance and repair, thereby concealing problems which are an early warning sign of deterioration. Cosmetic treatment to hide difficulties such as peeling paint, stains or other indications of deterioration is not a sound preservation practice.  In addition, artificial siding makes it impossible to monitor the condition of the building because it is hidden from view.
     The questions of durability and relative costs of aluminum or vinyl siding compared to the maintenance cost of historic materials are complex. One consideration is repair cost. All siding materials are subject to damage and all can be repaired. However it is much easier to repair wood siding, and the repair, after painting , is generally imperceptible.
      Because aluminum and vinyl can be produced with an insulating backing, they are sometimes marketed as improving the thermal envelope. In reality, the thickness of any insulating backing would be too small to add to the energy efficiency of a historic building and should not be a consideration when choosing synthetic siding.
      Finally, artificial siding removes the unique details and distinctive qualities of your building and can reduce its value in the marketplace by making it look like every other house.
      Historic Building materials, when properly maintained, are generally durable and serviceable materials. Their existence of tens of thousands of historic buildings is proof that they are the good selection.