With more and more homeowners looking for siding designs that give their houses a more rustic, traditional look, vinyl siding manufacturers have started producing patterns that look and feel like natural wood.
Among these is the vinyl log siding, a style that has been pretty popular lately among cabin builders. But is this material better than real log? Well, we will discuss vinyl log siding pros and cons below and let you be the judge. Ready?
Vinyl Log Siding Pros
1. No Painting Is Needed
If you are looking for a siding material that won’t get you spending extra money on paint, this is it. Unlike real logs, vinyl doesn’t require any painting, as the color of the panels is baked in. Also, this color is completely homogeneous, meaning, what is displayed on the outside is similar to what is on the inside.
As such, this color cannot be mechanically stripped, abraded, or scratched off. Also, it doesn’t peel over time as it would if it were manually painted. It, therefore, saves you time and money that you would likely have to spend repainting natural log panels. Plus it makes vinyl log siding more durable than real logs.
Compared to other siding materials like fiber cement, log siding is cheaper. Depending on the brand and quality of materials used, fiber cement siding can cost double or sometimes up to four times the price of vinyl log siding.
For instance, 24 pieces of shiplap horizontal vinyl log siding measuring 4 ½ inches by 145 inches will cost approximately $150 to $200, while shiplap fiber cement of the same size will cost between $450 and $600. And depending on who you are buying it from, 24 pieces of fiber cement siding can go up to $800.
If you are looking to add siding to your home on a budget, vinyl log siding will almost always be the most affordable option.
3. Easy to Maintain
Because of the slick surface that vinyl log siding comes with, it is relatively easy for dirt, cobwebs, dust, and other debris to slide off when sprayed down with a pressure washer or garden hose.
Also, since the paint doesn’t peel or come off, you will never need to prime or paint the exterior of your house. If you want your vinyl log siding to maintain its sparkle, all you need to do is clean it every few years. Wondering how to clean vinyl siding? Watch this video.
Vinyl log siding is made of polyvinyl chloride, stabilizers, additives, and anti-weather protection that make it sturdy and resilient and guard it against harsh weather.
How long the warranty issued by the manufacturers of this siding is a clear sign of just how long the material lasts. Most vinyl log brands will offer a fifty-year warranty, with some giving lifetime warranties.
High-quality vinyl logs can last for generations. Just make sure to read your warranty to know what is covered before signing it. Also, avoid buying your siding from contractors who don’t offer a warranty or whose warranty lasts only a few years.
5. Easy to Install
Vinyl logs are much easier to install than natural wood logs. You see, the panels can be cut easily with something as simple as a utility knife and do not need sanding, priming, or painting before installation.
Natural wood logs, on the other hand, will require powerful equipment to cut and must be smoothed, primed, and painted before they are laid on the wall. This increases the amount of labor needed to get the job done.
6. Not Susceptible to Pests and Mold
Another important aspect to consider when it comes to vinyl log siding is that, unlike real log siding, the material is not vulnerable to pest infestations. And because it is mainly plastic, it is also less likely to get mold.
While real logs can be treated to make them less susceptible to insects and mold, over time, the treatment may lose its defending power, exposing your house to these offenders.
Also, keep in mind that some products used to prevent mold (like bleach) may not work on pressure-treated wood. So if you are using pressure-treated logs for your siding, you will need to research what mold treatment works best, which can be time-consuming.
Vinyl logs are, therefore, a better option if you are looking to prevent the interior wood frame from damage by insects and mold. However, if it is not installed correctly and there are gaps between the panels, bugs may still sneak in and eat the wood underneath.
Vinyl Log Siding Cons
1. May Lower the Value of Your Home
If your home’s exterior is not appealing to the eye, it would make financial sense to install the inexpensive vinyl log siding. However, this move can devastate your home’s value especially if the house is historically significant.
Sure, vinyl logs will make your home look newer, but architecturally, they will somewhat flatten its exterior. Because the panels are designed with the same trim and molding, they will mostly give the house a two-dimensional look, rather than the more historic rustic look you would get from real wood logs.
Also, since many homebuyers consider vinyl inferior to wood, you may end up with a relatively lower offer for your home than a person who installed real log siding should you decide to sell.
2. May Allow Water Underneath the Surface
The main reason why we add cladding to the exterior of our homes is to keep moisture out. Wood logs and other traditional siding materials permit the wall to breathe. Sure, moisture may seep through the siding, but it will escape through the pores on the siding material.
Things are different with vinyl log siding. Because it is laid over a non-breathable styrene insulation board, there is a higher chance of moisture being trapped within the wall cavity.
But vinyl is water-proof, so how does moisture end up in the insulation material, you may ask?
Well, there are a couple ways through which that can happen. A good example is when the gaps around the edges of the siding are not caulked or when the insulation wrap is punctured by nails. If your installation was not done correctly, you may find yourself having spaces between the planks or holes on the insulating material that let water in.
And, trust us, moisture underneath your siding is the last thing you want. Any water trapped behind your vinyl logs will decay the wooden frame of your house, which will not only invite pests and termites but also provide the perfect breeding environment for mold.
3. Can Fade Over Time
Even though vinyl logs have their color baked in, they are not immune to fading. However, how much they discolor will solely depend on two factors; their color and exposure to the sun.
Darker colors will generally fade more than lighter colors. The same case applies to houses exposed to direct sunlight throughout the year. If you live in a hot climatic region, it would be best to install real logs instead or go for a lighter vinyl shade.
And don’t think you can get away with painting. Sure, painting will revive the color of your faded vinyl logs, but that will just be for a short period. Because of the hot summers, this paint will crack and peel easily, and when it starts to rain, it will be washed away by rainwater, taking you back to where you started.
It is also important to note that vinyl log siding that is constantly exposed to direct sun or very high temperatures will have a lower lifespan.
In hot climates, the weather tends to be extremely hot during the day and extremely cold during the night, which can subject the vinyl to constant expansion and contraction. At the 15th year mark, your vinyl logs will start to become weaker.
4. Not Repairable
Vinyl log siding is built to stand the test of time, but if you throw a sharp object at it or graze it with a lawnmower, it may get pierced or cracked.
Unfortunately, like most of the products made of vinyl, you can not patch vinyl log siding. The only way to fix your damaged panel would be to replace it.
The good news is that replacing a vinyl siding plank is as simple as removing the offending piece and laying down a new one. Just make sure to choose a plank color that matches the rest of the siding. Here is a video on how to replace damaged vinyl siding correctly.
Vinyl log siding is an excellent cladding option if you are looking to give your house a more rustic, exterior. It is cheaper than real logs, easy to install, and less susceptible to pests and termites.
However, if installed in very hot climates, it can fade or crack over time. Plus a house with vinyl log siding will sell much less than one with real log siding.
Carefully weigh both the good and the bad of this siding against the natural wood logs so you can make a decision that gives you value for your money.