Vinyl siding is an excellent choice for many homes because it’s durable, easy to install, and it doesn’t have to be painted. While it’s easier on homeowners’ budgets to install insulation while building a new home, sometimes it’s a necessary home improvement project that needs to be replaced along with old siding. In this blog, we’re going to look at what insulation is along with different types of insulation for vinyl siding.
What’s Insulation and How Does it Work?
When you’re cold, you grab a jacket or blanket. It traps warm air from leaving your body and blocks out additional cold air. Think of house insulation as a similar tactic: It’s applied to exterior walls and acts as a barrier, keeping warm air from leaving the house in the winter and cool air inside in the summer. Regardless of the type of vinyl cladding you have, it’s important to know the physics of insulation.
Heat (or cool air in the summer) escapes your home in several ways: convection, conduction, and radiation. Convection is when heat moves through the air; conduction is when heat is transferred through a solid or liquid; and during radiation, heat is transferred without a medium.
The comfortable air in your home escapes every time you open a window or door, but they don’t have to be wide open to affect your indoor temperature. If your doors and windows are not sealed properly, the air easily escapes through those gaps (even if you can barely see them).
Which Types of Insulation Are Out There?
There are several types of insulation that have different installation methods and benefits. Learn more about each insulation type.
Fiberglass batt insulation comes in rolls that can be installed between wall studs or ceiling joists in existing homes. This type of insulation is the pink cotton candy-looking stuff that if you touch it, can make you itchy. It’s also worth noting that if fiberglass insulation gets wet, it won’t work as well. Fiberglass stops heat transfer through conduction. It’s a vapor barrier that stops heat from moving to a cold area.
Cellulose is made from treated, ground newspapers. This type of insulation is a fire-resistant material installed in wall cavities. It’s blown into a wall. Gas-filled pockets created from cellulose prevent heat loss through convection.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam insulation is an insulated sheathing foam that’s denser than fiberglass or cellulose. Also known as rigid foam board, this type of insulation is great for cold climates because it’s not affected by moisture like fiberglass batts are. Foam board insulation does have an increased fire hazard if it’s not installed improperly, so make sure to hire a professional if you need this type of installation done on your home! This type of foam has low thermal conductivity.
Spray Foam Insulation
Used since the 1980s, spray foam insulation is sprayed into wall cavities. One big positive about this type of insulation is that it doesn’t change shape once it’s in place. It’s a good idea to keep spray foam away from electrical lines, as it’s a conductor. It can cause wires to overheat.
Insulated Vinyl Siding
Insulated vinyl siding is rigid-foam insulation attached to traditional vinyl siding. There’s decreased warping and an improved R-value (which we’ll get into next).
Exterior Insulation Products
Exterior insulation products, also known as EIFS and extruded expanded polystyrene (XPS), are rigid insulation boards of exterior wall sheathing with plaster.
House Wrap Insulation
House wrap insulation is a membrane that protects against moisture and air infiltration, like Tyvek. It helps insulation do its job.
Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS)
Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS), which is mostly used for packaging and insulation, is white foam plastic. This type of insulation acts as a great thermal insulator and is installed nearly anywhere in a building envelope.
The Insulation Rating System
No matter the type of insulation, it has an R-value. The “resistance to heat flow” value is a rating system based on how heat flows through the insulation. The higher the R-value, the better the ability to hold heat indoors. Different insulation materials have different rates.
Let’s look at the R-Value for the types of insulation that we just looked at.
- Fiberglass insulation has a rating of R-3.7 per inch.
- Cellulose insulation has a rating of R-3.4 per inch.
- Rigid foam insulation has a rating of R-3 per inch.
- Spray foam insulation has a rating of R-3.6 per inch.
- EPS insulation has a rating of R-3.85 per inch.
How To Tell If You Need More Insulation
There are telltale signs if your home needs additional insulation. If you notice any of them, you should contact a professional to begin discussing additional insulation under your vinyl siding.
- High energy bills.
- Cold or drafty rooms. This includes the walls, ceilings, and floors.
- Looking from the outside: if you have ice dams on your roof.
- Pipes freeze throughout the winter.
- Mice or other rodents come into your home.
- If there’s no snow after accumulating snowfall on your roof shingles.
- Thermal bridging is when a poorly insulated material allows heat to flow through a thermal barrier. Wall studs are a common example, identified with infrared technology.
All of the above are telltale signs that some part of your home is being exposed to the outdoor environment, whether it is a big enough hole to let an animal through (like a mouse or other rodent) or too much air is escaping through gaps in the windowsill. All of these combine to cause your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system to not work as well as possible (or work harder and rack up your energy bill).
Use these signs as motivation to add more insulation to your home. Re-siding your home with insulated siding is one of the best ways to protect your home and jazz up your curb appeal at the same time.
Perks of Additional Insulation
The biggest and probably most important reason to look into insulation is to cut down on your energy bill. This can be noticed over a time period, but in some more severe instances, energy bills can be noticeably lowered right away.
If you live in a region that experiences severe weather, additional insulation acts as both a noise and impact barrier.
Energy is expensive these days, so why pay more for it when you don’t have to? With proper insulation, your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to heat or cool your home, exuding less energy and taking less money out of your pocket.
Climate Zones in the United States
The United States has different biomes or regional climatic zones. The Department of Energy has the U.S. organized into eight zones, each of which requires different R-values. Most of Ohio, for example, is in zone five. For an insulated wood-frame wall, R5 insulated sheathing is required before new siding is installed.
For some homeowners, additional insulation isn’t included in their budget. Luckily, some states like Ohio have assistance programs to help offset costs.
Call FDS For Your Vinyl Siding Needs
Vinyl siding is a great choice for the exterior of your home, as it causes much fewer problems than other types of siding. It’s easy to clean and replace when necessary (plus, you have to replace it way less often compared to other materials). Wood siding, for example, can warp, rot, and get eaten by termites, all of which combine to let the comfortable air out of your home (and raise that energy bill).
If you want to save money and get better insulation, you should consider adding extra insulation under your vinyl siding. Vinyl siding looks great, is cost-efficient, and insulating it can add more money into your pocket, too. Don’t hesitate to call Factory Direct Siding for more information. Contact us today to start the conversation about vinyl siding.