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Building Matters

How to Choose Black Siding

If you want to paint your siding a dark color, select the material carefully

Design trends for siding seem to be steering away from muted, neutral colors into either pure white or rich, saturated and dark tones—including pure black. Bold cladding choices can make the architecture appear more dramatic, but there are some things to be aware of if you’re considering dark (or black) siding.

Dark colors gather more solar energy than lighter colors. So on products that are prone to dimensional changes due to temperature—described as the coefficient of thermal expansion (COTE)—or that have low melting points, color options may be limited. Because darker colors heat up the substrate more, they will be more likely to increase movement. Another issue is fading. Most exterior finishes “chalk” to some degree, which protects the underlying product, but excessive chalking is not attractive. In other words, when it comes to dark colors, your choice of cladding matters. Let’s take this material by material.

If you want a true black look, vinyl is not the siding option for you. There are some shades of vinyl that are fairly dark, but you won’t find a true black. I asked one manufacturer why that is, and was told it’s due to lack of market demand. Several manufacturers warranty their vinyl siding offerings against “excessive color fade,” but don’t always quantify what constitutes “excessive.” Painting existing vinyl siding (or painting over cellular PVC boards such as Azek or Kleer) is another matter—it’s possible, but in those cases, paints usually have to be kept to a light-reflecting value (LRV) of 55 or greater (see drawing below).

Generally, it’s important to use a paint color no darker than the original color of the vinyl itself in order to avoid problems with expansion due to heat absorption, but Sherwin Williams has a line of…

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4 Comments

  1. Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    Two fairly random thoughts:

    Things that have an inherent colour or tone, like wood, stone, galvanized metal, etc, have a better chance of staying that way when tastes change. It should be taken for a given that the current fashion for black cladding will pass, and it's probably good idea to anticipate that by using a coating that can easily be changed. To me that rules out Shou Shugi Ban.

    The other trend that has accompanied the demand for black cladding is for matching black windows. That's something vinyl manufacturers have resisted until now, but several have started offering black frames both inside and out. They haven't been available until recently because they are prone to surface failure due to heat build-up. Despite the advances in the coatings, black vinyl stretches their capabilities - and using materials at the edge of their limits comes with risks.

    1. User avater
      Michael Maines | | #2

      Good points, Malcolm. This article started as the answer to a FHB reader who asked what she needed to be aware of when choosing black-colored siding. I agree that anything trendy should be used with awareness that it may go out of style.

  2. user-7490145 | | #3

    It appears Perennial Wood is no longer available. The website for Perennial Wood, says the following:

    "Thanks for your interest in Perennial Wood. This product has been discontinued.

    For warranty questions or claims, please call 1-800-EASTMAN. "

    1. User avater
      Michael Maines | | #4

      Perennial Wood has not been made for several years, but there was a million board feet of it in stock. Performance Wood Products was selling it but may not be any longer. I've emailed them for clarification.

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