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Making Sure Your Vinyl Siding Holds Up To Hurricane Winds It's Rated For

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Is your house located in a hurricane zone? Are you about to install new siding on it, and wondering how you can do your best to protect that siding from succumbing to the high winds it might encounter? If so, read on to learn about vinyl siding testing and how to make sure siding holds up to the wind speed it's rated for.

Understanding The Testing Process

How do vinyl siding manufacturers really know how much wind their products can stand up to? They know because they send samplings of their wind-resistant products to a testing chamber in Chester County, South Carolina. This testing chamber is facilitated by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center, and it's a one-of-a-kind.

The test chamber is unique in that it's big enough to accommodate full-scale models of housing. During vinyl siding hurricane testing, the vinyl is mounted onto one of these full-scale housing models and then subjected to hurricane-like winds.

How does the testing facility simulate hurricane winds? They use 5.5 feet in diameter, 105 vane axial fans to push wind through a series of 15 tubes. These tubes have various controls on them that allow the testers to pressurize the wind, thus creating an even greater wind force than the fans alone would allow.

If the vinyl siding you plan to use on your home stands up to this testing procedure, it will absolutely withstand hurricane winds of this speed -- as long as it's installed in the same manner in which the test siding was placed on the testing facility's model home.

Proper Procedures For Installing Siding In Hurricane-Prone Areas

Get The Right Product. The testing facility doesn't place any old siding in the wind chamber; they reserve it for those products whose manufacturers claim can hold up to the great wind force. If a product doesn't have its wind speed resistance clearly labeled on the package, then it won't last long in a hurricane-prone environment. Look for vinyl siding that is specifically labeled to withstand wind speed of 110 miles an hour or greater. These products are constructed with thicker vinyl and have larger locking areas.

Use Stainless Steel Nails And Fasteners. Unprotected steel rusts when exposed to moisture in the air. Rusting nails and fasteners won't only stain your vinyl siding, but they'll also sacrifice the strength of it. Stainless steel is resistant against corrosion and rust. Stick with stainless steel for all of your vinyl siding hardware needs, especially when siding a home in hurricane territory.

Leave Space Between Nails And Nail Hems. The high winds of a hurricane can cause your vinyl siding to shift and sway, and the rains cause swelling and contracting of the material. Hurricane-tested siding is built to withstand these conditions, but it needs a little extra space in order to accommodate for them. Don't drive your nails as close to the siding hems as possible. Instead, allow a space the thickness of a dime between your fastener and the siding wall when nailing your fasteners down.

Nail In The Middle Of Nailing Slots

The nailing slots on the hem of your siding are oblong, leaving some room to wonder as to where the nail should go. When siding a home in hurricane-prone territory, always place the nail in the center of the nailing slot. Keeping the nails in the center will allow your siding plenty of room for thermal movement should high winds and rain hit. 

If you're about to install siding on a hurricane-prone home, make sure that siding lasts. Choose a product that clearly states that it has undergone the extensive wind testing set forth by the IBHS research center, and install it using the above hurricane-resistant installation practices outlined above. Talk to your contractor to learn more about what siding to choose for your home in a hurricane-prone area.