Vinyl siding may spruce up your home

LOS ANGELES Consumer Reports tested vinyl siding and other plastic siding, and found they're better made and better-looking than ever before.

From far away, the vinyl siding on a house is hard to distinguish from real wood. That's one reason vinyl and plastic have become the siding of choice for most homeowners.

"I think it looks very nice, and I don't have to stain it and sand it every couple of years," said one homeowner.

Rico De Paz from Consumer Reports tested more than two dozen kinds of vinyl and plastic siding in a weather machine to see if they would fade. It simulates exposure to sunlight, rain and extreme temperature.

"All the vinyl siding that we tested did a great job of retaining its color. That's very different from just six years ago when only one got an excellent score," De Paz said.

Another test measures the force needed to pull the siding from the house.

"You should look for vinyl siding with a double hem ... where the material is folded over. That's what keeps it on the house with high winds," De Paz said.

When all the testing was done, Consumer Reports found the best buy was Heartland's HeartTech Vinyl Siding for $75 per hundred square feet.

However, one test shows the one drawback with all vinyl siding: When it's cold, it can crack.

"You can see that the vinyl shattered like glass when it got hit," De Paz said.

But you can avoid that problem with the CertainTeed's Cedar Impressions. Although it costs four times more, it earned top ratings in all Consumer Reports' tests.

Your con09tractor may prefer one type of siding over another, but Consumer Reports says because there are such big differences in siding, it pays to tell your contractor what you want.

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