Siding products are a little like people. The more you know about their background, the more you can appreciate their good qualities.
I’ve been working with LP Smartside since 2014, offering their siding as a reliable option to fiber cement siding for my clients. So when the company invited me to visit the LP factory to see how their products are made, I couldn’t resist. It also helped that the visit was all expenses paid, and they were sending a private plane to take me!
There has been environmental concern about the silica dust from cement siding, and it was one of the reasons I wanted to offer customers a high-quality engineered wood product. Although it costs a little more, LP Smartside’s engineered wood product has many advantages. It is lighter and easier to install, durable, silica-free and comes in longer, 16-foot lengths for fewer seams during installation. I’ve also been impressed with the performance of the siding, and especially, their premium DiamondKote™ finish.
I met the pilot and the corporate plane at the DuPage airport at the end of a workday and climbed aboard. It was my first trip in a small plane and I didn’t know what to expect, but we had clear weather and smooth take-offs and landings. I also had company on board —two other area contractors from the Chicagoland area who also installed LP Smartside siding. I was glad to meet them. An hour later we landed in Wausau, Wisconsin and met our hosts for dinner at the hotel. We then got some sleep before our very busy next day started.
Early the next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we drove an hour to the town of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, home of LP Products, to begin a tour of the manufacturing plant. I was surprised to find the plant in the middle of the forest, which made a lot of sense since wood is the resource LP needs to manufacture their product. It was impressive to see the endless piles of logs stacked up waiting to become siding. LP uses Aspen wood, fast-growing trees from well-managed forests as part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) to craft their siding.
The tour of the plant was fascinating. We saw how the products were made, from the delivery of the logs, through the manufacturing process and product testing in their on-site lab. While wood is the main ingredient in the LP SmartSide product, each piece of siding is treated with an advanced formula of binders, waxes and zinc borate and then bonded with a water-resistant, resin-saturated overlay. This process results in a mighty siding product designed to block moisture and stand firm against harsh weather.
LP does a thorough job of testing the strength of the products and how they respond to certain environmental conditions such as temperature changes, water, etc. I was struck by how spotless the factory was, and how very few people were actually needed on staff because of the plant’s efficient automation processes. It was amazing to see natural wood molded into something even more durable and beautiful.
After lunch, we drove back to Wausau to visit the headquarters of Wausau Supply, the prefinisher for LP’s siding products. LP and Wausau joined forces in 2006 and have been creating superior building products together ever since. Wausau is the developer of the Diamond Kote™ innovative siding finish. The Diamond Kote™ finish offers a 30-year, no fade warranty against wear and fading and has received rave reviews from my customers. Even though it costs a little more, customers choose it for its durability and natural look. I tell the story of two homes I recently sided with two different products. One neighbor used the Smartside Diamond Kote™ and the other who felt he did not have the budget for it, did not. He soon regretted his decision and is still envying his neighbor’s siding job to this day. Their patterns and colors are impressive, and wood grain looks like their stained shake can easily be mistaken for real wood. (See my video of the stained shake and other siding on the Pro-Home Services Facebook page.
LP provides a solid foundation for the expert prefinishing they do at Wausau. Here again the plant was incredibly clean, with most of the work being done with rapid precision by the many robots on the job. After they sand and clean the substrate, robotic sprayers apply the coats of paint evenly in a closely monitored environment. Wausau’s paints are specially designed for each substrate and include mineral-based pigments and other pure raw materials to keep siding vibrant and protected from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays which cause siding to fade. Also, the Robotic sprayers break the paint down into smaller particles allowing the paint to bond better. The result? An ironclad bond between substrate and coating that leads to less peeling and chipping for my customers. The newly painted siding then travels through a dryer and is oven cured and cooled for a durable scratch resistant finish.
I’ve always been impressed with the way Wausau Supply does the final step of their production process which is packaging their siding. They place foam in between each panel and wrap the entire product in plastic so it doesn’t get scratched on the way route to the contractor. My customers appreciate it and so do I.
When we touched back down at the DuPage airport that evening, I felt better than ever that Pro-Home services offers LP Smartside products. I can now educate my customers firsthand about the processes LP and Wausau use to produce their siding and also assure them of quality manufacturing to go along with the stellar installation we provide.
I’m grateful to LP Smartside for the wonderful tour and meeting. If you are considering re-siding and curious to see how LP Smartside siding looks on your house, call me at 630.790.0800 for a home consultation. I’ll gladly bring the samples!