The next time you are out driving around, take a look at the private homes and commercial buildings. You may notice that many are adorned with architectural brackets, corbels, spandrel and running trim for some added design and effect. Look closer. Is it vinyl or is it wood?
On many structures built within the last 10 years, you may find, to your surprise, that these extra touches added to the exterior beauty of the home are made of vinyl. Of course, if you are looking at a historical home or building or one built in the latter part of the 20th century, then those added pieces are most likely wood. Wood was the popular choice for gingerbread brackets, spandrels, etc. for many years. A designer could easily carve beautiful designs with the pliable material. Take a walk through any town’s historic district and you will most likely find wooden gingerbread adornments on the stately homes of long ago. They added a beautiful touch and created distinct personality for the home and a point of pride for the home owner.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Architectural brackets are still very much a key design element in many homes and commercial structures, with gingerbreading still a favorite among private residents. More and more commercial buildings can be seen with large, more subtly designed, brackets and soffit corbels. Are they wood? Most likely not. Most likely those components are made out of 100% vinyl. For a large structure requiring an extra large bracket, wood would be extremely heavy. This is one of the many reasons why architects and builders are choosing vinyl over wood.
So, you may be wondering why is vinyl becoming the preferred choice? What are the benefits of vinyl exterior components versus wood? Can you get the same ornate designs in a vinyl bracket as you can in the traditional wood brackets? First of all, if you have a historical building listed with a historical society, then most likely, any improvements done to the structure have to replicate the orginal design. Meaning, if there were wooden brackets on the building originally, then the new brackets would have to be made of wood and vinyl would not be an option. Outside of that, the choice is your own. Below is a breakdown of why vinyl is becoming the number one choice, even to the most traditional designer and/or builder….
Why Vinyl (or PVC)?
… has the look and feel of wood but is more durable and hardy
… can easily be milled with wood-working tools, routers, etc.
… can be left in its natural white and will not yellow
… can easily be painted with a latex paint
… great for any climate (cold, hot or coastal)–100% weather resistant
… does not retain moisture so paint won’t peel, crack, flake or blister
… virtually no maintenance required
… alterations easily made with standard wood-working tools
… is a very light-weight yet durable material
… cost is comparable to wood components
… density is similar to white pine so ornate, gingerbread designs are still an option
For the savvy builder and architect, vinyl is rapidly becoming the popular choice for their designs. Ultimately, they know that by using vinyl, they are passing on to their client huge savings in maintenance costs and repairs because, unlike wood, vinyl brackets will last for years and years without requiring any major attention outside of an occassional cleaning. Of course, huge savings + cost-efficiency + little effort + a beautiful design = a happy client. And, a happy client is a beautiful thing indeed.