Re-Siding Your Home: Insulation and Other Important Guidelines

If your home's siding has seen better days, re-siding is a perfect opportunity to significantly increase your home's resale value, as well as maximize energy efficiency, and last but certainly not least, assure a stable, moisture free environment.

Siding and insulation have improved greatly, but the finest siding is not good enough without proper insulation. Siding and insulation have several jobs to do beyond sheathing the home and insulating it from the elements. Insulation must keep the area between the insulation and the walls free of insects, dirt and moisture. Moisture is of particular concern. Some types of insulation can trap moisture inside the walls, causing mold, mildew, rot and even structural damage by bowing and warping. Insulation must allow moisture to "wick" to the outside without losing insulating integrity.

Replacing siding and upgrading insulation should increase your home's energy efficiency. The R-Value is your guideline. The R-Value of the insulation measures how well the insulation resists the flow of heat through it, and the same with the siding. R-Values of all the insulations and the siding are added together for a resulting R-Value. The higher the R-Value, the more resistance to heat flow through your structure - and that's a good thing.

Energy conservation has taken giant strides over the past five to seven years. Re-siding with today’s modern sidings and insulations is the perfect juncture to bring together the whole package: improved energy efficiency, full confidence that moisture is not a problem, and a grand new level of curb appeal.

Check into these cutting-edge innovations in the insulation and siding industry:

    • Complete Wall Protective Systems:
      Depending on the manufacturer, these systems may be identified by different names. It should comprise of siding with custom insulation, which fits behind and is shaped exactly like the siding - in other words, the insulation should fit every contour of the siding. There should be no hollow spaces. If you "push" on the siding, it should feel solid, not hollow. These systems should be fire retardant.
    • Permeable House Wrap Insulation:
      This insulation blankets or wraps the home. When properly applied, it allows the house to "breathe" and moisture to evaporate.
    • Rigid Foam Insulation:
      Rigid foam is available in differing thicknesses. When properly installed, it provides a dry and tight environment for the structure.
    • A thicker vinyl siding:
      Purchase the thickest siding that your budget allows. The general rule is, the thicker the siding, the more durable (and expensive) it is. Premium sidings can be up to 0.55" thick, with other thinner choices available at .040" to .045" thick.
    • Double Nailing Hem System:
      A double nail hem provides a crisper, tighter and more secure method of attaching siding to the structure. Almost every climate experiences high winds from times, and a double nail hem assures superior strength.

Before making your final decision, consider these things:

    • Siding and Insulation:
      Know the R-Value needed to meet recommendations for your climate. The Department of Energy’s website offers the "Zip Code" program which allows you to calculate your home's existing R-Value, and then check it against the current recommended R-Value for your location. As you consider different siding and insulation brands, make the R-Value recommendation a priority. When the insulation arrives at your home, make sure it is the thickness you ordered.
    • Warranty:
      Get a copy of the warranties for each brand of siding, take them home and compare them side-by-side, before getting too serious about any one brand. Pay careful attention to how you must maintain the warranty. How often are you expected to clean the siding, paint, etc.? If you cannot uphold your part of the agreement, the warranty may not be of value to you.
    • Manufacturer:
      Ask the manufacturer to verify, in writing, that your home is warranted for your particular installation.
    • Installation:
      Ask for proof of insurance, bonding and licensing from the installer. Get it in writing. Ask for references and check each one. Specifically ask for references for the type of insulation and siding that you are installing, and ask pointed questions. If the insulation is not properly installed, it may void your warranty, as well as damage your home. Ask the installer to agree, in writing, to follow all of the manufacturer’s installation guidelines. A short and concise, signed and dated, statement should be sufficient.

In general, a manufacturer and installer of good repute is the place to start. With a good product, a state-of-the-art installation, and an industry-standard or above warranty, you’ll have years of comfort and pride in your home.