[ELI5] How can we use Vinyl for siding when Vinyl records warp?


Wouldn’t the heat and the climate change impact the look of it? I think this should be a chemistry/engineering post

In: Chemistry

Vinyl is named because of the material, PVC, polyvinyl chloride. Depending on how you make PVC, it can be stiff or flexible. The rigid material is used for sidings, while the flexible material is used for clothing.

While vinyl records are temperature sensitive, that’s because their design needs to be very precise. Siding is not nearly as demanding; a 1mm warp in a record will significantly impact its quality, while a 1mm warp in a piece of siding would be unnoticeable.

The same way you can use wood to build a house even though you use a tree to make paper.

The material isn’t the only thing that matters, it’s structure matters too.

Vinyl siding is still relatively soft, it can pretty easily be scratched/gouged/dented on accident.

But, thicker vinyl siding is significantly stronger and more resistant to warping than the much much thinner vinyl records.

You aren’t coating your house in a thin layer of vinyl, they’re much more sturdy than that.

For question about making it warp, yes fluctuations in temperature can make it warp, but that is actually a pretty common property across materials, wood can warp too, so can metals, some just need more extreme temperatures than others.

The color of the siding can also be changed by the climate, as radiation from the sun gradually breaks down the pigment in the material making it look faded. But again that’s something that can happen to pretty much any material.

Probably not climate change but more any local temperature, humidity issues. The primary difference is structure and composition.

“vinyl” is a layman’s term and non descriptive of the kind of plastic material used. There are thousands of different plastic materials. Highly engineered plastics are also usually “filled” in that there is other stuff aside from the plastic itself. For example, glass fiber or carbon and other chemicals that decrease degradation from UV light. These are used to improve things like strength, rigidity etc.

The problem with a vinyl record is that it is simply flat. This provides nearly no structural resistance to warping (ie potato chipping). Any engineered piece will typically have reinforcement braces, webs and edges wrapped or turned. A host of structures to ensure that the part does not display unwanted characteristics.

EDIT: In a sense you are comparing a sheet of paper with a corrugated cardboard box. A sheet of paper crumples and tears easily whereas the box can hold a fair bit of weight. They’re both made out of “paper” but hardly comparable.