5 Problems with Insulated Vinyl Siding: True or False?

Posted on April 5, 2020 within

5 Problems with Insulated Vinyl Siding: True or False?


Every home siding product on the market today has features, benefits, and downsides. Finding the siding that is right for your project requires some research to see how each product aligns with your specific needs. This article discusses 5 problems with insulated vinyl siding (also known as foam backed siding) and if they are true or false.


Is maintenance freedom important to you, or do you want the ability to change the color of the siding from time to time by painting? Are you comfortable investing in the siding you truly want because you plan to stay in your home for years, or are you moving soon and want an affordable enhancement to curb appeal?


Whatever your situation, there will be plenty of myths and facts to sort through about each siding product available to you. As the inventors of insulated siding, we wanted to address a few of the common questions we receive related to the product. Below is our list of five problems associated with insulated vinyl siding, and if they are true or false.


1.) Is Insulated Vinyl Siding Harder to Install?


installing insulated vinyl siding


The short answer is yes, installing insulated vinyl siding requires a few additional steps than traditional vinyl siding. Although installing insulated vinyl siding is not a far departure for those that are experienced vinyl siding installers, the additional thickness of the foam insulation requires a few changes.


For starters, you will require a few additional tools. Hollow vinyl siding can be cut with only a pair of hand snips, but insulated vinyl siding will require a table or hand saw. Use a fine tooth blade installed backwards in the saw, or use a siding specific blade.


Aside from cutting the siding panels, insulated vinyl siding will require more build out around windows, doors, and other openings. This is due to the additional thickness of the insulation, which makes the siding project farther out from the wall. Be sure to use accessories with wider receiving pockets to accept the full thickness of the insulation.


When it comes to getting the product to the job site, more boxes, or larger boxes, are required for insulated vinyl siding. Because of the additional thickness of the foam, not as many pieces can fit in a standard box.


Conclusion: Yes insulated vinyl siding is harder to install than traditional vinyl siding panels.


2.) Is Insulated Vinyl Siding More Expensive Than Vinyl?


Prices on siding products can vary substantially based on what features and benefits are selected. Just like buying a vehicle, if you get a lower grade car but add all the bells and whistles, it may end up costing the same or more than an entry level model of a higher end car.


However, in general insulated vinyl siding is more expensive than hollow vinyl siding. Read more about the cost of insulated vinyl siding here. This is due to the energy saving blanket of insulation adhered to the back of every siding panel. When new siding is installed, it is recommended by the Department of Energy that you add insulation. Insulated vinyl siding is a great way to improve the appearance of your home with new siding while adding insulation that will help reduce your utility bills, all in one step.


The foam board not only helps insulate the home, but also provides additional stability and durability to the siding panel. This allows vinyl siding manufacturers to make insulated siding in wider, flatter profiles and richer, darker colors than before. These premium profiles and colors can add some cost to your siding project.


Finally, insulated vinyl siding is thicker than traditional siding due to the foam insulation, which requires some additional steps or special accessories that can increase the installed cost.


Conclusion: Yes, insulated vinyl siding is more expensive than traditional vinyl siding.


3.) Does Insulated Vinyl Siding Create Moisture Problems?


There are two primary source of potential moisture damage in a wall: water vapor generated inside the home that needs to escape to the outside, and bulk water from the outside that infiltrates the siding system, such as driving rain. Let’s start by addressing water vapor.


Handling Water Vapor from the Inside




Did you know that the average family of four generates four to six gallons of water vapor inside every day? The water vapor is generated through activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, and even just breathing!


When adding products to the outside of a house, particularly a slightly older home that doesn’t have a new HVAC system that handles moisture build up, it’s important to make sure you aren’t trapping any water vapor inside the home. When adding insulation in particular, the goal is to tighten up the home to reduce energy loss, but the wrong products can also prevent water vapor from escaping.


The way to gauge a product’s ability to let water vapor escape and let a home breath is the perm rating. The insulating foam used in insulated vinyl siding features a perm rating of up to 5.0, providing much better breathability tha comparable insulation products with perm ratings of 1.5 or less. Because of this breathability, installing insulated vinyl siding does not require costly venting as do some other insulation materials.


Therefore, insulated vinyl siding does not create moisture problems from water vapor generated inside the home. But what about bulk water from the outside?


Handling Bulk Water from the Outside




According to an article from FineHomebuilding.com, “Controlling rain is the single most important factor in the design and construction of durable buildings and in the control of mold. It doesn’t matter what your house is clad with, your siding leaks. Water always finds a way behind siding.”


If it’s guaranteed that the exterior of the home is going to be infiltrated by rain and other sources of moisture, then it’s important to select products that allow the wall to dry out quickly to help prevent mold or mildew damage.


Because insulated vinyl siding contains a rigid foam core, some people have thought the foam might absorb and mold moisture. However, a one year study completed by the Senior Energy Engineer at the Home Innovations Research Labs (HIRL) proved that insulated vinyl siding does not create moisture problem. In fact, of nine different wall assembly types such as hollow vinyl siding, manufactured stone, fiber cement, and brick, insulated vinyl siding kept the wall dryer than any other cladding option.


You might wonder how that can be, considering other claddings create a leakier system overall. According to Craig Drumheller, Senior Energy Engineer, “Insulated siding provides both thermal and hygrothermal benefits in light framed wall construction. The thermal resistance of insulated siding provides a double benefit: reduced heat flow in the wall assembly, thereby saving energy, and a higher wall cavity temperature, resulting in increased drying capacity.”


In simple terms, because insulated vinyl siding keeps the wall warmer due to it’s energy saving properties, it also helps the wall dry out faster.


Conclusion: No, insulated vinyl siding does NOT cause moisture problems.


Click here to learn more about the year long moisture study >

Click here for more testing related to the moisture management of insulated siding >


4.) Does the Foam and Insulation Separate Over Time?


Insulated vinyl siding is made of two primary components: rigid foam insulation and vinyl siding. The vinyl siding acts as a skin, permanently adhered to the insulating foam core. The adhesive used to attach the siding to the vinyl actually cures to create a permanent bond between the two components. Learn more about this process in the video below.


In addition, both the siding and the foam have very similar rates of expansion and contraction, meaning they are very compatible to be used together. The coefficient of thermal expansion for the insulation is .000035 in./in./F while vinyl siding ranges from .000031 - .000036.


Conclusion: No, the foam and vinyl will not separate over time.

5.) Is Insulated Vinyl Siding New and Untested?


Although you may have only heard of insulated vinyl siding recently, it is a product that has been around for many years The first insulated vinyl siding product was launched in 1996 as a collaboration between Progressive Foam and Crane Performance Siding. Since that time, every major vinyl siding manufacturer has launched their own versions of insulated vinyl siding, and between these groups it has been installed on over half a million homes.


You can rest easy knowing that hundreds of thousands of people have put insulated vinyl siding on their homes. With robust warranties of 25+ years, all the way up to double lifetime, we are confident that even the earliest installed products are still standing up to the test of time.


On top of a great track record, insulated vinyl siding is backed by a mountain of third party certified testing data. Everything from moisture management, energy efficiency, environmental impact, and more have been thoroughly tested over the years. You can have confidence that you are selecting very well vetted products to help protect and improve the appearance of your siding.


Conclusion: No, insulated vinyl siding is not new; it has been around for over 20 years.


Click here more technical information on insulated vinyl siding >

New Call-to-action

Other Related Topics

The Right Way Topics

how to choose a contractor