You don't have to try to be Tom Sawyer the next time your fence or house needs a fresh coat of paint. Instead, maybe you need a new product that will enable you to hang up the paintbrush for good.

"If you wanted dark colors you would have to paint dark colors on to your house. Historically vinyl building products have not been supplied in deep dark colors because they tended to fade and change color and that's [because] the capstocks were made out of polyvinyl chloride, PVC," says Peggy Schipper, Commercial Development Business Manager for Altuglas International the makers of Solarkote and Plexiglas.

Solarkote is being introduced as a way to easily add dark, rich colors to the look of your home and yard without heavy household burdens. According to the makers, Solarakote acrylic capstock is applied to a vinyl building product in the manufacturing stage. The protective layer of acrylic won't peel off as paint does and it significantly reduces fading or yellowing of building product materials.

"Things like vinyl siding, fencing, decking, are made in two layers; there is a substrate layer of PVC and there is a capstock layer … which is the weatherable layer. In the past the weatherable layer has been made out of things like PVC," says Schipper.

But today special durable vinyl siding or fencing is making it easy for homeowners to hang up the paintbrush and still have the look of a fresh coat of paint on their house, fence or deck because of the protective acrylic capstock.

Think about automobile glass and traffic signs -- they are made from acrylic products and they keep their rich luster all year long.

"If you're interested in a white or a very light color in vinyl products it's not so much of an issue, but if you're interested in going darker then you need to make sure that you have a product that's going to stay the same color that it was when you bought it," explains Schipper.

If you're considering vinyl siding, here are a few tips before you buy:

  1. Look for thickness for durability: thinner siding may sag over time.
  2. Use vinyl siding that has a product such as Solarkote in it to preserve the color and richness.
  3. Be sure to ask about wind resistance; it's important to know what the manufacturer offers.
  4. Even though vinyl siding doesn't trap moisture because it's hung loosely, it is critical that proper materials such as flashing and builder's felt or housewrap are installed before the vinyl goes up.
  5. Check certifications of potential installers.
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