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Industry Trends6 min

What Are Freeze/Thaw Cycles?

In cold climates, the best siding options will be those that help offer protection against freeze/thaw cycles. To withstand the effects of harsh winters, siding must be durable, installed correctly and able to resist moisture—all qualities that help siding remain in good condition throughout freeze/thaw cycles. 

Let’s dig deeper into what these cycles are and how one of the most durable siding solutions available, LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding, resists damage when temperatures fluctuate.

What Does a Freeze/Thaw Cycle Mean?

By definition, a freeze/thaw cycle refers to a temperature pattern of reaching above freezing (32° F), dipping below freezing, then returning to above freezing. These drastic changes in temperature, especially when they occur over relatively short periods of time, can cause damage to outdoor structures if not prepared for.

When water gets trapped in or behind siding and then freezes, the siding must be better able to withstand expansion. Water expands by between 9%–10% as it freezes, which exerts pressure on the surrounding materials. This can cause cracking, buckling and more issues if the material cannot accommodate this movement.

Where Does Freeze/Thaw Weathering Occur?

Wear and tear from freeze/thaw cycles can occur in regions where temperatures typically drop below freezing at night, then rise back above freezing during the day. This can happen during a variety of seasons, but it can be common especially as seasons change and temperatures hover between the cold of winter and the warmth of spring.

Freeze/Thaw Cycles

How Long is a Freeze/Thaw Cycle?

Freeze/thaw cycles involve hours, typically overnight-to-morning periods of time. These cycles may not be as impactful when freezing and thawing happen over a long period of time, though, and materials have time to acclimate to new conditions. When freezing and thawing happen suddenly, damage may be more likely to occur. 

What is a “Freeze and Thaw” Test?

Siding materials can be tested to help ensure they can withstand freeze/thaw cycles by being subjected to conditions that mimic natural freezing and thawing. But the process typically begins with tests for moisture resistance, as problems from freezing typically occur when water gets trapped in siding materials. One of the benefits of engineered wood siding, for example, is its moisture resistance. Often engineered wood siding can help prevent the problem of freeze/thaw cycle damage before it starts. 

How LP SmartSide Siding Stands Up to Freeze/Thaw Cycles

LP SmartSide products represent one of the most durable siding solutions on the market, and that includes resistance to damage from freeze/thaw cycles. This comes from its ability to resist moisture and its premium strength. The LP® SmartGuard® process brings this level of durability to LP SmartSide products with a carefully formulated mix of advanced binders, resins, waxes and zinc borate. 

See how LP SmartSide siding products compare to other siding materials when it comes to freeze/thaw cycles.

lp smartside trim & siding helping with freeze/thaw cycles occur

When installing lap siding, proper technique also allows for acclimation of the product in the event of freeze/thaw cycles. Specifically, butt joint installation requires a 3/16-inch gap between pieces of siding. This gap helps give each piece of siding room to take on changes in the atmosphere, acclimating to different temperatures and levels of humidity without buckling or cracking under the pressure. To help installers measure this gap accurately, an alignment groove is built into LP® SmartSide® ExpertFinish® Lap Siding for a spot-on installation without measuring or guessing. 


LP SmartSide siding boasts advanced durability that helps it resist damage once it’s installed properly on the home and during installation on the jobsite. Learn more about its outstanding durability.

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