DALLAS — When most people think about plastic siding for homes, they think extruded vinyl.
Alcoa Building Products of Sidney, Ohio, is thinking injection molded polypropylene.
Alcoa demonstrated its new Cedar Heights siding panels at the International Builders' Show in Dallas, Jan. 15-18. The panels, which are three-quarters of an inch thick, boast three-dimensional features difficult to approach in an extruded product.
Alcoa used a block of machine-cut cedar to build the original mold for the product, Jeffrey Peskowitz, director of marketing for Alcoa, said at the show.
The 64-by-14-inch panels are large enough that a variety of ``shingle'' sizes are incorporated, giving the panel a more natural look, he said.
While injection molded panels have been used as decorative trim for years, Cedar Heights is the first such product intended for the whole home.
``We've used the injection molding process for a long time,'' Peskowitz said. ``But we've never before had a whole, full-house exterior panel.''
Besides giving the panels a sharper look, injection molding also gave them some features hard to duplicate with extrusion.
The panels have a molded-in hinge that allows installers easy access to special fastening tabs before snapping the whole panel up into place on a wall.
Using PP also allows installers to work in colder temperatures at which vinyl siding could become brittle and prone to breaking.
These enhanced properties will come at a price. Covering a home in Cedar Heights panels will cost about twice as much as an equivalent grade of extruded vinyl siding, Peskowitz said.
Starting in March, the products will be marketed on the East and West coasts, where homeowners may want their properties to blend in with a traditional cedar shingle look without the high maintenance associated with wood products, Peskowitz said.
Alcoa, one of the top North American producers of extruded vinyl siding, is molding the Cedar Heights panels at its plant in Gaffney, S.C.