Adding new siding to your home is a significant investment that you only make once or twice in your lifetime. In addition to giving your home an exterior makeover, this home improvement project is also an excellent opportunity to add some much-needed insulation. By paying a little more for insulated siding, you can enjoy many benefits, including a more attractive home exterior, lower energy bills and more comfortable interior temperatures.
When insulated vinyl siding first hit the market over twenty years ago, it was a big hit, and since then its popularity has only grown. This guide will help you decide whether this innovative product would be a good fit for your home.
What Is Insulated Vinyl Siding?
Is there any advantage to install insulated vinyl siding vs regular vinyl siding? How does insulated vinyl siding work anyway? Insulated vinyl siding refers to standard vinyl siding that includes a layer of EPS, or expanded polystyrene, attached to it. Like all siding, this material goes on the outside of homes and is typically constructed with high-quality vinyl to make it more resistant to fading, warping and other kinds of damage. During the manufacturing process, the contoured foam insulation gets attached permanently to the siding, making it more stable. It is one of the longest lasting siding products available and has been installed on more than half a million homes since it was first introduced on the market. But is insulated vinyl siding worth it?
Insulated Vinyl Siding: Pros and Cons
As is the case with all materials, insulated vinyl siding comes with both pros and cons.
Insulated Vinyl Advantages
Insulated vinyl siding has numerous advantages, and we will cover the most important ones here:
1. It Improves the Look of Your Home
If you’re making an investment as critical as new siding, you want it to look good for as long as possible. By adding insulation to your siding, it can improve its appearance by leveling the wall behind it, making the irregularities in your wall less noticeable. Furthermore, contoured insulation gives the siding panels even more support and helps them retain their shape.
2. It’s Durable
While almost all siding products are designed to make your home look more attractive, many aren’t made to protect it. Some products even create an empty space between the wall and the back of the siding, which makes the siding more vulnerable to damage from rocks, hail, baseballs and various other objects.
Adding contoured insulation to new siding provides extra support and helps it withstand the harsh elements, both natural and man-made. Vinyl is highly resistant to fading and many types of storm damage, with some brands being able to resist 200-mile-per-hour winds and other extreme weather phenomena.
And in the unlikely event that the insulated panels do become damaged, they are easier to replace than traditional ones.
3. It Keeps Moisture and Insects Out
You produce several gallons of water vapor daily inside your home from showering, cooking and cleaning. And if that vapor does not escape, it could lead to mold and mildew problems. While adding traditional insulation to your home will decrease the amount of energy lost, it can also prevent moisture from escaping. Many insulated vinyl siding brands, however, provide some vapor permeability, allowing water vapor to quickly and safely escape and protecting your home from moisture damage.
This material is also great for minimizing the risk of termites and other pests. Unlike wood, vinyl is inorganic and not a food source for termites. Also, the foam behind the vinyl siding fills in the gap and prevents insects from building their homes there.
4. Noise-Dampening Options Are Available
Some insulated vinyl siding products can significantly decrease sound transmission into your home, which is highly desirable for people who live in more crowded areas with heavy traffic — or next to noisy dogs.
5. It’s Energy-Efficient
It’s not uncommon for your walls to contain energy leaks that drive up your heating and cooling costs, and it’s the wood studs in your walls that are to blame. This is because heat goes right around the insulation and travels through the studs, letting energy escape through the walls. This occurrence is known as thermal bridging. Almost a quarter of a home’s walls is comprised of studs, which are not typically insulated. This is effectively like having an entire side of your house without insulation.
To combat this problem, the U.S. Department of Energy has recommended that homeowners consider adding insulation under their new siding. Insulated vinyl siding can save you significant money on utility bills by keeping heat inside during the winter and outside in the summertime.
Insulated Vinyl Disadvantages
This product’s drawbacks are few but notable:
1. It’s More Expensive
The cost of siding products can significantly vary based on the features and benefits you choose. Just like with cars, you can choose a lower grade car but add on lots of features, and it may end up being as pricey or pricier than an entry-level model of a more upscale vehicle.
However, generally speaking, insulated vinyl siding is pricier than its hollow counterpart. Some reasons for the higher price are:
- Premium colors and profiles. The foam board provides more insulation for your home and makes the siding panel more stable and durable. The lets manufacturers make insulated siding that is wider and flatter and with darker, more vibrant colors than would be possible otherwise. The wide variety of high-quality colors and profiles increase the price of your siding.
- More steps to install. The foam insulation makes this product thicker than regular siding, which means it requires more steps or special accessories, which also may make it more expensive.
2. The Installation Is More Labor-Intensive
Due to the thickness of the foam insulation, insulated vinyl siding takes longer to install than traditional vinyl siding. However, for those who have had experience installing vinyl siding, the process is not very different and only requires a few changes to be made.
For one, you will need a few more tools. Whereas you can cut traditional vinyl siding with hand snips, you will need a table or hand saw to cut insulated vinyl siding. When cutting with the saw, use a siding-specific blade or a fine-tooth blade. If using a fine-tooth blade, make sure to install it backward on the saw.
Also, more build-out will be required around the doors, windows and other openings. This is because of the insulation’s thickness, which causes the siding to project farther out. Make sure you use accessories that have wide receiving pockets so that they can accept the insulation’s’ full thickness.
When delivering the siding to the job site, larger boxes, or more boxes, will be required. Due to the foam’s extra thickness, fewer pieces will be able to fit in a standard box.
How Much Does Insulated Vinyl Siding Cost?
Below are some factors that may influence the price of your project:
- Where your home is located
- The size of your home
- Whether you decide to install it yourself
- The siding that is currently on your home
- Previous damage to your home, which is discovered once the old siding is removed
- The number of doors, windows and other openings that the installers must work around
- The quality of the profiles used, such as board and batten or shake
- The quality of shades chosen, including premium tones, dark colors or lighter colors
- The choice of accent trim package
- The time of year of the installation
- Whether resistive barriers are added, such as housewrap
- Whether features are added to protect against pests or moisture
- The R-value of the insulation
- The installation company’s qualifications, such as certifications and insurance
Insulated vinyl siding is more expensive because it’s heavier and contains more material, so it is more costly to ship and requires more steps to install. Insulated siding is also available in more profiles and colors, which makes it more costly to manufacture.
Despite the higher initial cost, however, insulated vinyl siding is known to provide significant savings over its lifetime, including lower energy bills and protection from impact damage.
Explanation of R-Value
When comparing different insulation products, one of the most critical considerations is R-value, which is an objective measure of insulation’s performance.
More specifically, R-value represents the ability of a material to restrict heat flow and is based on a term called R-factor. The R-factor of a material is determined in a laboratory by placing a test specimen of the material between two plates and measuring the heat flow through it. Typically, the sample consists of one square foot of material and has a thickness of exactly 1 inch, and its two surfaces have a temperature difference of 1 degree F. During this test, the thermal conductivity of the material is determined, which is expressed as the rate of heat flow in British thermal units (BTUs) per hour.
The product’s R-value, then, is determined by multiplying its R-factor by the thickness of the product used. For example, if an insulation product has an R-factor of 3.8 and 3.5 inches of the product are used, then the R-value is 13.3. The higher the R-value of the product, the better the insulation.
Does Insulated Vinyl Siding Work?
Insulated vinyl siding has been proven to provide many benefits, namely:
- An increase in R-value of 2 to 2.7
- A decrease in thermal bridging, which is the escape of heat through non-insulation materials such as studs
- More solidity to the vinyl siding
The insulation gives a solid look and feel to the siding. Whereas traditional, non-insulated vinyl rattles in the wind and can be easily pushed in due to the hollow spaces behind it, these issues are rare with insulated vinyl.
You can also expect more benefits soon. Building Technologies Office is currently developing an option that integrates vinyl siding with insulation, which is anticipated to be both cost-effective and energy efficient. This material has the potential to save over a quarter of a quad of energy, which is equivalent to the energy found in 2 billion gallons of gasoline.
Is Insulated Vinyl Siding Worth the Cost?
When looking at the insulated vinyl siding pros and cons, we are certain that the benefits outweigh the costs. We believe that insulated vinyl siding is a wise investment for many reasons. Insulated vinyl boosts R-value, reduces thermal bridging, and it is easy to maintain. You’ll never have to paint, stain or caulk it, and because of its exceptional durability, it will retain its attractiveness for a long time to come.
This product is also believed to boost the curb appeal to your home. In Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report, researchers calculated how much of the costs of certain home improvement projects are recouped by the value that the projects add to the home. The report in 2017 showed that replacing siding recoups 76.4 percent of the costs, which is considerably better than many other remodeling projects such as a bathroom addition (53.9 percent) and a major kitchen renovation (65.3 percent). So, if your new insulated vinyl siding costs you $20,000, you can expect the project to add $15,280 in value to your home, so think of the real cost as only $4,720.
Insulated vinyl siding also provides significant energy savings. While vinyl siding manufacturers tend to charge around 50 percent more their insulated products than their non-insulated options, homeowners recoup this additional cost over time through cheaper energy costs. The amount of time needed to recover the extra cost is referred to as the payback time or payback period.
It is thought that insulated vinyl siding will be particularly cost-effective for you if you live in a region with extremely hot or cold temperatures. In these climates, the payback time could be as short as five years. If you live in a more moderate climate, on the other hand, recouping the higher cost of materials through energy savings may take 10 years or longer. However, regardless of the climate you live in, if you are dedicated to heating and cooling your home in the greenest way possible, insulated vinyl siding can still be a beneficial investment, especially if it’s coupled with other eco-friendly, energy-saving upgrades.
Contact Brothers Aluminum Corp.
By now, you may have already made the big decision to install insulated vinyl siding on your home. However, there’s still another equally important thing to decide on — the company you hire to install it. If you live in the Greater New York City area, including Long Island and Westchester County, Brothers Aluminum Corp. is the company you want to handle this remodeling project. Our family-owned company has serviced over 60,000 homes in our 38 years of business, and we are committed to providing customers with the highest-quality customer service possible, which includes premium products, professional workmanship, free price assessments, 100 percent financing and much more.
In addition to vinyl siding, we also offer roofing, entry door and window replacement, masonry and interior redesign. If you are interested in our services or have any questions, feel free to reach us by phone at 1-800-639-5665 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to your business!