Siding on a house: aluminum, vinyl?

Q. We intend to put new siding on our house. One contractor recommends aluminum, but we wonder if vinyl siding would be better. What do you say? Jean W. Schonk Norfolk, Virginia

A. As apples and oranges are both fruit, albeit distinctly different, so aluminum and vinyl siding differ. Each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the particularities at the site.

Aesthetics, color, style, budget, insulation value, longevity, proclivity to dents or fading, or reaction to thermal changes -- all are grist for making a decision as to which siding to use.

Further, compare the two prospective sidings as to price, configuration, color, insulating value, aesthetic suitability, etc., as applied to your particular home, neighborhood, and budget.

Now ask a couple of contractors to give you the names and addresses of two or three of their siding customers. Visit them and observe the applied siding. Talk to the owners about their siding job and product. Thus you will have their practical evaluation of the siding material itself as well as the performance of the contractor.

You not only buy the material but also the applicator. A good material installed by an inferior applicator may prove to be a poor material in the long-run.

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