January and February typically usher in the season's coldest temperatures, bringing the need to use building materials that can withstand frigid temperatures with them. However, it's often the freeze/thaw cycle--cold days followed by quick warm-ups--that can cause significant damage to a home's siding. So, what is the best siding for cold climates to combat this?
The freeze/thaw cycle occurs because water expands by nearly 10 % as it freezes. If any water gets trapped in a siding material like fiber cement or vinyl and the temperature falls below 32° F, it creates extreme pressure on the siding material as the water freezes and expands.
You’ve likely seen evidence of the freeze/thaw cycle as you’ve removed damaged siding. Since fiber cement is essentially concrete, it's naturally more brittle than other materials. That makes it more susceptible to cracking or breaking when water penetrates the substrate and expands as temperatures fall.
On his Instagram page, Jaime Perkins of the Perkins Builder Brothers demonstrated removing a section of fiber cement that had crumbled because it was sitting in water.
“It ruins it. Just like anything else,” he said.
Vinyl siding also expands and contracts as temperatures change, which may make it susceptible to cracking. Additionally, traditional wood, when not properly maintained, may easily warp, crack and split.
That's why engineered wood is often recommended for any area within the United States that experiences frequent freeze/thaw cycles during the wintertime. An engineered wood product like LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding is made from a combination of treated wood fiber and industrial-grade binders and resin that is better able to withstand damage from freeze/thaw cycles.
Just as not all siding can stand up to freeze/thaw cycles, not all siding can be installed in the winter. Vinyl siding in particular may become brittle and may be prone to cracking when installed in cold temperatures.
Thanks to its advanced durability and stability, LP SmartSide siding products can be installed in low temperatures without fear of cracking. Because LP SmartSide Trim & Siding materials feature a low moisture content, they will expand slightly after installation. Be sure to leave a 3/16-inch gap at all butt joints and where the siding meets doors, windows and corner trim. Read more here about the science behind installing LP SmartSide siding with a 3/16-inch gap.
The Perkins Brothers also found LP SmartSide ExpertFinish® Trim & Siding to be useful for their builds in the winter. Because minimal field painting is required (such as touching up nail heads and sealing exposed edges), the siding can be installed in one step-once it is on the home, it is essentially finished. This can be a crucial benefit when temperatures are low and weather considerations are uncertain from day to day.
Learn more about the durability of LP SmartSide products in all conditions, including winter weather.
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