Synthetic building materials, products like roof shingles, siding, replacement windows, block windows, decking and exterior trim, have changed the ways homes are being built. During the past decade, “Home Sweet Home” has quickly turned into “Home Synthetic Home” with the rising appeal of durable building products made of vinyl, urethane, PVC, composites, polymer and other synthetic building materials.
“Our industry has seen the popularity and sales of man-made building products soar as both building professionals and homeowners become more educated on their value,” says Ray Rosewall, president and CEO of DaVinci Roofscapes. The low maintenance aspect of synthetic building products is amazing. Marry that with the energy efficiency features available in many of these products and the homeowner comes out the true winner.
Rosewall, whose company manufactures synthetic roofing tiles, points to a longer life span and environmental advantages of many synthetic building products as the reason for their popularity. “We use 100 percent virgin resins in our tiles to assure product consistency and longevity,” says Rosewall. “Our proprietary engineered polymer incorporates fire retardants and state-of-the-art Ultra Violet (UV) and color stabilizers. These are specially formulated to withstand the wide variety of challenging environmental and weather conditions that roofs are exposed to year after year. These tiles are covered by a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. That’s a big win for the homeowner.”
Synthetic Building Materials Energy and Tax Savings Benefits
Along with synthetic roofing, vinyl railings, siding and block windows all attract high interest from homeowners. According to the Vinyl Institute, vinyl products have no adverse impact on indoor air quality, have low toxicity and take less energy to produce than many competing products.
“Vinyl has low conductivity, so finished products, like vinyl windows, reduce heat exchange,” says Mark Savan, president of Simonton Windows. “When adding in an energy-efficient glass package with fusion-welded frame, sash and corners, a vinyl window can really help homeowners save on their energy bills while contributing to a safe, healthy indoor environment.”
Savan points out that the U.S. government also offers incentives for homeowners to seek out energy-efficient windows. Up to $1,500 in energy tax credit is available in 2009 and 2010 to homeowners who replace existing windows with highly efficient Simonton windows that meet a U-factor rating of 0.30 or less, and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30 or less.
Synthetic Building Materials Save Time and Labor
Efficient and durable, synthetic home building products have the added advantage of being lightweight and easier to install than comparable heavy products. One company, Hy-Lite/U S Block Windows, has found that their acrylic block windows are 70 percent lighter than installed glass block windows, making the window units easier to work with on the job site.
Acrylic block windows offer better thermal benefits than glass block windows. Glass block windows may appeal to those seeking a more traditional flare in their home, but acrylic block windows that are Energy Star qualified can reduce your energy bills by 7 to 24 percent. The acrylic block windows also provide added benefits of being available as operable units along with special shapes and sizes that can not be achieved with standard glass block windows. In addition, acrylic block windows are constructed of hermetically sealed blocks to help prevent condensation penetration.
Other synthetic home building products that consistently appear in both the interior and exterior of the home are urethane and PVC decorative trim pieces. Gone are the days when wood trim would be placed outside, only to be replaced a few years later after rotting or being infested with insects. Gone also are the heavy plaster moldings and ceiling medallions of the 19th century. Nowadays lightweight synthetic pieces, made with exacting detail and durability, have replaced them.
“There’s a consistent quality to synthetic trim pieces that can’t be duplicated with other products,” says Tom Riscili, president of Fypon. “Each finished piece is lightweight and easy to install, making it possible for homeowners to tackle many upgrade projects themselves in just minutes. PVC and urethane products offer tremendous labor and time savings during installation and resist all forms of moisture, insects and decay. Both the value and the variety of these enhancement pieces are unsurpassed by any other product offered in the marketplace.”
Synthetic Building Materials Here to Stay
It’s not uncommon to have a multitude of synthetic materials in today’s homes. Faux flooring, urethane ceiling beams, decorative glass windows and even composite decking are all popular products of the 21st century.
Along with the current tax credits for energy-efficient windows, homeowners should also investigate insurance savings by using synthetic products in and on their homes. For example, both State Farm Insurance and Farmers Insurance offer discounts to homeowners in select states that install impact-resistant synthetic roofing materials to protect against hail, fire and wind damage.
“Synthetics are here to stay,” says Roger Murphy, president of Hy-Lite/U S Block Windows. “These man-made products are better than what Mother Nature created. Savvy homeowners incorporating synthetic building materials in their homes will find multiple ongoing benefits and savings for years to come.”
Tom Kraeutler is the Host, Founder and Chief Home Improvement Evangelist of The Money Pit. He is a hands-on home improvement broadcast journalist and the kind of guy homeowners want to call at midnight when their basement floods. He first earned his home improvement stripes as a professional home inspector, amassing over 20 years experience learning how houses are put together, and how they fall apart!
construction tools & equipment