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Published: Sunday, 8/1/2004

Different skin for houses

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Jeanette Brandt, with Bob Koester of Spray On Siding, didn't want to cover the details of her 1920s-era bungalow. The thick liquid goes onto the exterior of a house much like traditional paint. Jeanette Brandt, with Bob Koester of Spray On Siding, didn't want to cover the details of her 1920s-era bungalow. The thick liquid goes onto the exterior of a house much like traditional paint.
Enlarge

Jeanette and Richard Brandt were getting too old to continue painting their 1920s bungalow-style house in Henry County, but they didn't want to cloak its architectural details in squared-off vinyl siding.

Hiring painting contractors every eight to 10 years wasn't what they wanted either.

The Brandts had heard about Alvis Coatings Inc.'s Spray On Siding a few years ago at a home show in Indianapolis, but the Charlotte, N.C., company didn't have a local dealer for the coating that is more than 10 times thicker than normal paint and has a lifetime guarantee.

But once they learned about Spray on Siding of Toledo, an Alvis distributor based in Bowling Green that opened last year, the Brandts solved their painting quandary for about the same price as good-quality vinyl siding. And they didn't change the look of their house north of Ridgeville Corners.

"We wanted to save the wood on there," Mrs. Brandt said last week.

So-called liquid siding is making inroads nationwide as various companies offer specially formulated products with warranties of 25 or more years that typically are sold through dealers. Liquid Vinyl Siding-USA, for example, has dealers in Dayton and Saginaw; Kryton Group of Companies has a dealer in suburban Cincinnati; and Endure Permanent Coatings LLC offers its product on the Internet and is looking for distributors.

Sherwin-Williams Co. and other paint firms also have extended-wear products. For example, Sherwin-Williams' Duration paint is guaranteed for the lifetime of the homeowner who purchases and applies it.

Because accelerated testing, not real-life experience, is the basis for liquid sidings' warranty promises, consumers should be careful before buying, said Jeff Beckner, editor of PWC, the official publication of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America

The thick liquid goes onto the exterior of a house much like traditional paint. The thick liquid goes onto the exterior of a house much like traditional paint.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

"They may be all great products," he said. "But right now, you're going on say-so."

Whether any of the products can withstand the sun and the area's seasonal changes for at least 25 years is questionable, said Mike Sepanski, general manager of ABC Seamless Siding & Windows in Toledo, which installs vinyl-coated steel siding.

"Time will tell," he said. "I guess I'm kind of skeptical whether it's going to hold up 10 years down the road, much less 25 years."

The residential lifetime warranty on the Alvis product, a blend of resins and polymers that is made in more than 1,800 colors, covers chipping, flaking, peeling, and excessive or uneven fading.

The warranty can be transferred for a fee.

Spray On Siding was introduced five years ago, and Alvis sold about $25 million worth of the product last year, said Dan McConkey, marketing and advertising specialist for the company.

The product can be applied to wood, vinyl siding, steel, cinder block, stucco, and other paintable surfaces. The local dealer's crews replace bad boards and then pressure-wash surfaces with a cleaner that also removes grease and mildew. They also do some light sanding and fill cracks and crevices with caulk.

A key to the Alvis process is the next step, the application of a primer, or bonding agent, that coats all the surfaces before Spray On Siding is sprayed on much as paint would be, said Jerry Slivka, general manager of Spray On Siding of Toledo.

"Everything that we coat we put the primer on," he said. "It's got to be on for us to do the job."

It typically takes five days for a house to be prepared and finished, and Spray on Siding can be cleaned with water from a garden hose.

Similar technology has been around for more than 20 years and was used where durability was paramount, such as highway lane lines and golf ball covers, Mr. Slivka said.

The original owner of Endure Permanent Coatings' product, meanwhile, started using it in the 1970s on commercial structures but stopped after about 10 years because of high manufacturing costs, said Herman Lodde, co-owner of the Louisville firm.

The only place the coating has failed is inside water towers because of the contact with water, Mr. Lodde said.

An advantage to the Endure product, which also has a lifetime warranty, is that it stretches to up to 600 percent of its original size to help accommodate weather-related expansions and contractions, he said. "It's equivalent to just putting a huge coat of rubber on your home," Mr. Lodde said.

Since opening in May, 2003, Spray On Siding of Toledo has finished about 30 houses and businesses, including some historic homes and some with aluminum siding.

The dealer covers 14 northwest Ohio counties and can serve adjoining counties, including those in Michigan, at least temporarily.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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