How Reflected Sun Can Melt Vinyl Siding


A lot of homeowners spent good money to clad their home in vinyl siding, assuming that this is a lower-maintenance alternative to basic wood siding. Unfortunately for many homeowners, and particularly those that live in hot climates, many people later find that this wasn’t such a good option after all. In addition to the fact that vinyl can crack or break on impact, vinyl siding can also melt, both in hot climates and in reflected sunlight.

Melting Vinyl

It makes sense to a degree why vinyl could melt on a hot day in direct sunlight when in a climate like Arizona. After all, temperatures in the sun can reach well above 120 degrees, and if your home is a darker color, it could absorb that heat and melt the vinyl. This is because vinyl is essentially a type of plastic – high quality plastic with texture and pigments – but still plastic, which does have a relatively low melting point when compared to other materials.

This is such a widely known problem, in fact, that it’s actually not recommended that people in hot climates and whose houses are in direct sunlight install the material on their homes. That’s also what makes it such a problem for people who live in cold weather climates; they never consider that their vinyl could melt, even in the dead of winter.

Reflected Sun Melts Vinyl

While the vinyl manufacturers don’t necessarily want to take the blame for this phenomenon, it has been recorded as reported by Star Tribune that vinyl siding can also melt due to reflected sunlight. And the most common cause of reflected sunlight happens in most cases in the dead of winter.

The real problem is double-pane windows coated with low-E – something that a lot of homeowners living in cold climates install to help lower their energy bills. Double-paned windows are well known for their insulating properties, while the low-E coating helps further insulate and protect their belongings from UV rays.

Unfortunately, when the weather gets cold enough, double-pane windows can deform slightly. This creates a dip in the middle of the glass that isn’t necessarily apparent to the naked eye, but which can cause the sun to reflect off of the glass, rather than penetrating it. Add in the low-E coating that causes the UV rays to reflect off the glass, and suddenly you have a lot of sunlight bouncing off of that window, all of it aiming at one spot directly across the way.

If you happen to have a house situated right across from a neighbor who has double-pane windows with low-E glass, and the sun hits them just right, that reflected sunlight can be hitting your home. This isn’t a problem if you have wood, brick, or fiber cement siding on your home, but it is a problem if you have vinyl. Remember, vinyl is a plastic that has a relatively low melting point, so all of that reflected sunlight will simply heat up and melt your vinyl.

Repairing the Problem

Because the melted vinyl isn’t considered a hazard and is merely cosmetic, you will be required to pay for the damages yourself. But unless your neighbor puts some screens on their windows to break up the glare, this is a problem which will recur. And because your siding plays a big role in your home’s curb appeal, this is one problem which could lower your home’s value if you don’t come up with a permanent solution, which in most cases means replacing the vinyl with something more durable.

The real solution, therefore, is to install a material that doesn’t have a tendency to melt, particularly if you live in a cold climate where the houses are close enough together to cause this issue. So while most people are aware of the fact that vinyl makes a poor choice for hot climates, homeowners in the north may want to consider truly low-maintenance options for their homes, like fiber cement siding, instead.

A Truly Durable Alternative

No matter how hot it gets outside, or how much your neighbor’s windows reflect the sun, the fact remains that fiber cement siding doesn’t melt. That’s because fiber cement isn’t a type of plastic; it’s a blend of cellulose fiber, Portland cement, glass, sand, and silica which also doesn’t burn, peel, crack, break, or require a lot of expensive upkeep or maintenance. This means that no matter what climate you live in, you can trust that your fiber cement siding will continue to look good year after year for as long as you own your home.

Make the Right Choice

Siding is one of the most important parts of your home, protecting it from the elements and increasing your home’s curb appeal. Don’t take chances with such an important part of your home’s appearance and integrity; choose a truly durable covering for your home instead.