The Wooden House Project

Vinyl siding: Love it or hate it?

Well, apparently pigs fly. Here’s a post I never thought I’d write. When I was in grad school for historic preservation, I would have balked at the idea of reading a post singing the praises of vinyl siding, let alone authoring one. Vinyl siding is the butt of many a preservation joke. It’s just so EASY. Covering your house in plastic? Seriously?

But I’ll admit, since starting the Wooden House Project I’ve developed a soft spot for the stuff, and with this post I offer my argument as to why it’s not as bad as everyone likes to think.restoration4 , and I’m certainly not suggesting that we all go out and clad our houses in vinyl siding (or aluminum or asphalt, which I’m lumping in here as well). Why? . I’m just saying we shouldn’t be so quick to hate on it.

1) Because today we have wooden houses to restore

Wooden houses all over Brooklyn are getting facelifts

A few months ago, my favorite historian and tour guide Francis Morrone sent me an email. “Let’s meet for lunch. I’d love to tell you why we should be more forgiving of vinyl siding.” To which I replied, “Francis, I’ll buy you lunch if you can convince me to like vinyl siding.” Francis bought me lunch that day, but it was not because he had failed to convince me; it was because he’s such a nice person. In fact, within five minutes he had flipped all of my preservation grad school notions right on their stuck-up little heads.

“Imagine this, ” said Francis, who went on to paint a colorful picture of less economically prosperous Brooklyn. Imagine that you live in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 60s. Everyone else has left, or is on their way out. But you won’t/can’t/don’t want to leave. Brooklyn is home. You are determined to stick it out, to ride through the hard times.3 use just isn’t available — times are tough. What do you do? You clad your house in vinyl siding and hope for better days.

I had to admit he had a point. A very good point. The nice thing about all these layers of siding is that in most cases they were placed over the original clapboard; they did not actually replace it. Underneath, the wood survives. Could it be that today’s abundance of wooden house fixer-uppers are here today in part because of vinyl siding? Makes me almost love the stuff.

13th-Street2) Because of Keramos Hall

Keramos Hall (photo courtesy Kamen Tall Architects)

Greenpoint’s newest crown jewel is a case in point. What Francis described is exactly what happened to Bill Weidman, owner of Keramos Hall and recipient of the Landmarks Conservancy’s prestigious Lucy G. Moses Award last year for the restoration of his building. Bill purchased Keramos Hall in 1962 when Greenpoint was a much different place, and shortly thereafter found a photo of the building dating from 1910. “I just knew that if the building was brought back to its former Victorian splendor it would just be an outstanding structure… I just wanted something nice, I wanted to bring it back to life, ” he recalls.

10-KeramosHall-Detail-2012-PhotoCredit-Joanne-Tall Windsor


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Too many variables

It's hard to tell you without knowing specifics about your home. There are companies out there that can do a drill and fill in your home. They drill small holes in the wall, usually from the exterior, blow insulation in, and plug the hole. I don't know if you have wood siding or vinyl, that will make a difference on this option.
I'm assuming this is an old house that doesn't have much for insulation, if any, in the walls. However, if it's relatively new and has been insulated somewhat, you might get away with sealing electrical boxes and other holes with spray foam. You can kind of stick the tube back in the box through the hole where the wire comes in and spray a little back there

Ogdensburg home rehabilitation program gears up for phase two, on schedule  —
Some homes will receive extensive and visible rehabilitation, including the installation of vinyl siding, roofing and windows. Other homes won't have an obvious exterior update but will have new furnaces or flooring put in.

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