As spring dawns anew on the frigid New England landscape, many condo dwellers will get their first prolonged looks at Mother Nature’s wintery ravages. Likely nowhere is this better seen than on a property’s exterior siding, much of which may need cleaning or replacement in the season ahead.
For those properties that do need large-scale siding replacements, experts say there are a few tips to remember for long-term siding success. “No matter which type of siding you choose, the primary thing you need to consider is what you put in there for a barrier,” explains Jack Carr, senior vice president of the Portland, Maine-based Criterium Engineers. A professional engineer and reserve specialist, Carr says the correct installation of a property’s building wrap—what Carr calls “building flashing”—is the most important aspect of any new siding job. “Every joint needs to be sealed with tape. It needs to be overlapped. It needs to be done properly around the corners.”
In addition to the all-important building wrap, thoughtful contractors will often recommend a global window replacement as a part of any major siding job. “It’s the rare property where we convince every homeowner it’s the right thing to do,” says Ralph Noblin, P.E., of Bridgewater, Massachusetts-based Noblin & Associates. “If you don’t replace the windows after 25 years because the homeowner screams that he doesn’t have the money, it’s gonna haunt you.”
Experts say a proper interface between newly installed windows and the building wrap will prove the most important aspect of any condo’s weather barrier. “If those things are done properly, no matter what siding they put on, the building will be tight,“ says Carr. “If the property manager or board were to insist on any one thing, they should insist that every important point of the barrier installation be checked off on some sort of checklist—that some supervisory level person, not the guy installing it, checks off every single joint.”
When it comes time to choose the actual siding materials, today’s condo boards have more options than ever—from vinyl to fiber cement to eco-friendly recycled clapboards, most of which are constructed from post-consumer wood products. Yet many top engineers are skeptical of such “green” innovations. “I think some of [those products] haven’t lasted very long,” says Carr. “If that recycled product only lasts five years, it wasn’t all that green.”