One of the important things to know about vinyl siding is that it is available in several different grades. While vinyl siding manufacturers may not always label their products by grade, except for the premium lines, it’s usually not hard to determine where any particular vinyl siding product is on the scale once you know how to read the specifications. The three commonly accepted vinyl siding grades are economy, standard, and premium. Here’s a rundown on each:
Economy – Economy vinyl siding is the least expensive choice. The main difference between economy vinyl siding and the two other grades is the thickness of the siding panels. Economy grade vinyl siding can range from a thickness of .035″ to .040″. The downside of thinner siding is that it is not as rigid as thicker siding. This means that more care must be taken during the installation of economy-grade vinyl siding to prevent problems with the siding sagging or warping. Another disadvantage is that economy-grade vinyl siding is generally only offered in a few standard color choices.
Standard – Standard grade vinyl siding is typically .042″ to .046″ thick. This added thickness is the main advantage over economy-grade vinyl siding. The extra material makes the panels more rigid and reduces the chance the siding will droop or sag. Standard grade vinyl siding is offered in more colors and styles than economy grade siding. In many cases standard-grade vinyl siding hits the “sweet spot” for value and cost.
Premium – Premium-grade vinyl siding is the most expensive option. Premium grade vinyl siding is typically .046″ to .050″ thick. This extra thickness makes the siding more wind resistant which is why premium vinyl siding is often recommended for areas where high winds are a concern. Premium-grade vinyl siding also offers more style and color choices than the other two. Some options, such as insulated vinyl siding, are only offered in premium vinyl siding lines.
While it is easy to assume that the more expensive product is better, that is not always the case. You should carefully consider the benefits of each siding grade before deciding which will be the best for your project.