Chris Keeter, president of All States Windows and Siding, in Wichita, Kan., expects his customers to get “40 or 50 years plus,” from the vinyl or fibercement siding he installs.

So does Miles Wilkins, team leader and general manager of The Board Store Home Improvements, in La Crosse, Wis. “Vinyl, aluminum, or steel siding are going to last at least the life of the customer,” Wilkins says.

STILL LOOKS FINE Most manufacturers back their siding with a lifetime warranty, which seems a safe bet based on contractors' experiences.

“My mother's house had steel siding put on in the 1970s, and it still looks fine,” says Kim Blake, president of All-Weather Windows, Doors and Siding, in Mission, Kan. “If you're using high-end products, with the enhancements and quality of those products today, I see no reason why they wouldn't last 50 years.”

Contractors generally add their own labor warranties to the manufacturer's product warranty. Blake provides two years on labor and workmanship, the same warranty he offers on his other product installations, which allows sufficient time for exposure to the elements to reveal any problems, he explains. “But if a customer has an issue with something that is three or four years old, we take care of it.” All the jobs done by The Board Store Home Improvements carry a 10-year labor warranty. All States Windows and Siding offers a lifetime labor warranty.

MIXED REACTIONS Customers don't all place the same value on these warranties, contractors say. To some, they're vital, Blake explains, “because they are trying to put some finality to the painting issue and problems of rotting and deteriorating siding.” Others find it far less important.

“Most exteriors other than brick will be changed for taste before they wear out,” Wilkins says. “They'll last until somebody thinks what we did in this decade is sickening and they change it, like the early baby-blue siding, harvest-gold appliances, or orange shag carpet,” he adds.

Homeowner demographics can be the deciding factor. Keeter recalls describing his siding warranties to a prospect, “an older fellow.” When he finished, the prospect replied, “Young man, I'm 80 years old. I don't even buy green bananas.” —Jay Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Jamestown, R.I.