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advice needed / windows & siding


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I'm pretty green when it comes to windows and siding. I've been learning lots lately. Seems the more I learn, the more money I'm looking at spending.

I purchased my home 3 yrs ago, knowing it had some hail spots on aluminum siding. I also knew it had "newer" windows (Wellington inserts) on half the house. Other half old wood windows and a sliding glass door that leak air like sieves.

We started out thinking about replacing aluminum siding with vinyl. Now I'm thinking about LP smartside.

We also started out thinking about replacing just the old windows with "new construction" windows (not inserts). Now we are thinking of replacing the entire house with new construction windows. I started thinking about it after one contractor thought the brick mould trim (aluminum) looked like it wasn't installed correctly, at least not as good as it should of been. The windows themselves seem fine (10-15 yr old vinyl inserts.)

Question 1) Is it wise to have all the windows done at same time?? That way I know all are same age, and installed professionally. Or should I do what needs to be done now and wait for the other ones to start to fail??

Question 2) Is LP smartside gonna have any benefits in MN (I wish I lived in a hurricane or high moisture area)? I don't like the thought of vinyl, but the boss (wife) does. She wants nothing to do with painting whatsoever. I like the cedar grain finish available, and that it won't crack / break with a rare hailstorm or flying branches. But then again, vinyl is easy to replace if that happens. Is it worth the extra price??

Any answers to either or both questions appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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1. Yes, do all the windows at the same time. Besides obvious reasons, you get them all sealed into the wall with tape and onto your siding. If you were to re-side and only do some windows, the ones you do later will cost you much more. Not only because of rising prices, but the installer (if done correctly) will have to take down your siding to get the new windows in. There is also no telling how many pieces of siding will need to be replaced then because of possible breaks or mis-handling. Then you will have some new siding and some old on the same wall. We all know how that looks.

2. To be honest, no one knows for sure. The siding is so new, it cannot be proven to last anywhere. I have seen top of the line cement board siding on a 3 million dollar house start to fail within one year. Water gets into it, freezes, expands, and there you go.....It's short life has started to end already.

Any way that you go, it's only as good as the installer. Siding contractors do not have to be licensed. They don't have any mandatory continuing education. Most have never taken any tests or read any installation instructions. Not to say that there are not some who know plenty, but just giving you the facts.

Aside from this, some may claim they are master craftsmen or VSI certified, but to be real world, who really is? Is it the boss who took the tests? Is he or she on the job every day? Are any of the installers certified? Lots of things come into play when deciding on who and what products to use on your most important asset....your house....

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On a side note for vinyl.....yes it can break or crack, but you have insurance right?

By the time you figure in extra cost for lap siding, plus your time painting, you can have your house sided 2, maybe 3 times with vinyl for the same amount of money.

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