Question

What do you think of Alside’s new composite wood siding product?

Asked by Alice Nelsen, St. Charles, MO

We are looking for new siding for our 60-year-old house. Alside is making a new composite wood siding called Revolution, which they say is LEED certified. I am unable to find any information about it except the Alside literature. What is your opinion of this product? Is it durable? How green is it?

Answer

Marc Ojanen & Shen-I Chiou

Answered by Marc Ojanen & Shen-I Chiou

San Francisco, CA

Ojanen Chiou Architects, LLP

May 13, 2009

Alside's Revolution siding is a wood composite product that was only recently introduced to the market, so it is difficult to predict its long-term performance or make a solid recommendation.

However, after researching it and related products, I would say it appears to be a green siding option worth considering.

  • Historically, wood composite siding has had a questionable track record due to its poor moisture resistance and dimensional instability. A number of class-action lawsuits are pending or have been settled against major manufacturers.
  • Wood composites have a better record of success in decking applications (Trex lumber is one popular product), but even these results have been mixed.

Revolution siding, however, is part of the next generation of wood composite products that combine waste wood and cellulose with various plastics to create a hybrid material much more durable and stable than the older composites.

  • Alside claims to have solved the water infiltration issue (and associated problems involving swelling and mold growth) with "strong polymers";
  • Alside has also introduced co-polymers to mitigate the cracking and breaking associated with temperature-related expansion and contraction.
  • Revolution's polymer finish provides integral color that never needs repainting. The elimination of the need to prime or paint, stain, or caulk cuts down on air pollution from VOCs. Also, the carbon footprint (i.e., vehicle trips) associated with the related labor for these tasks is reduced.

If Alside's claims are correct, Revolution siding appears to be an environmentally responsible substitute for resource-depleting and expensive FSC-certified wood siding. Revolution may also be preferable to the more popular option, fiber-cement siding.  Alside claims that its product is superior to fiber cement siding because:

  • it resists cracking (a common problem during installation of fiber-cement siding); and
  • it does not contain silica (a hazardous substance released from fiber-cement siding during the cutting process).

You asked about Revolution siding's connection to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ratings system. LEED materials themselves are not certified but can contribute toward specific LEED credits.

  • Revolution can be applied toward Materials and Resources credits 4.1, 4.2, and one ID (Innovation in Design) credit relating to materials with recycled content.
  • Its manufacture reuses wood and plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill (or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) to create a product with a long useful life.
  • The flip-side of this is that the final product is non-recyclable and, unless reused in another application, may linger in the landfill for a millennium or more after it is removed from your home.

Because of the newness of the product, Alside is currently offering Revolution only through qualified installers.

When making a final decision, remember that proper installation, good quality control, and a solid manufacturer's warranty are of paramount importance.

 

For more information:

Read Connie McCullah's Q&A "Which is greener: fiber-cement or vinyl siding?"

Tagged In: siding, plastic lumber, leed for homes, wood siding

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