By Matthew Power A new ordinance in DeKalb County, Ga., has vinyl siding manufacturers worried. Walter Hoyt, director of marketing for Wolverine Siding Systems, fears that other counties in the Atlanta area (which are now examining the ordinance) may create similar rules.
Rather than banning vinyl siding outright, the DeKalb ordinance holds PVC products to a higher standard. It includes four provisions:
1.The siding must be nailed up by hand.
2.Product thickness must be .044 inches or greater.
3.Substrate must be 7/6-inch structural sheathing, and the use of insulating foamboard behind sheathing is restricted.
4.Galvanized nails must be used.
The most troubling of these provisions, says Hoyt, is the mandated siding thickness. "The ASTM requirement is .038 inches," he explains. "By going to .044 inches, you effectively eliminate two-thirds of the products out there. It's a blow to the industry as a whole."
High-end vinyl products--like most of the Wolverine line--meet the thickness requirements, and so are less affected by the ordinance. But Wolverine's Millennium line, designed to work with nail guns, loses in the bargain. And the added costs are sure to impact housing affordability.
Why the sudden backlash against vinyl?
"It has nothing to do with the material," asserts Hoyt. "What they had were some poor installations. For example, if the product is nailed improperly, you get what's called oil canning--where the walls look wavy."
Amy Lilly, director of technical code and regulatory affairs at the Vinyl Siding Institute in Washington, says that local officials have given numerous reasons for the new ordinance, including security issues, but she too believes that "the underlying problem is the hiring of shoddy builders in the area."
Rob Long, vinyl siding marketing manager at Louisiana-Pacific, notes that consumers will pay the biggest price for the change. "A lot of people are going to be priced right out of the market," he says.