Insulated Vinyl Siding Is It Really Worth It?

Heat Escapes from an Un-Insulated Campfire

When you knock your insulated vinyl siding with your knuckles, there’s something comforting about the solid sound. I’ll sleep warmer tonight, you may imagine as snow clouds gather in the chilly sky. But will you really be warmer, in actual fact? How can we ask that, when your walls are insulated?

It’s the R Value, Not the Insulation That Matters

The ‘R Value’, in the context of home construction, is a measure how well barriers such as layers of insulation, windows, or complete walls or ceilings prevent interior heat flowing through to outside. An insulated ski jacket contains our body heat that way, while a thin singlet keeps us cooler while we exercise at gym.

The main benefit of insulated vinyl siding, from the perspective of the homeowner is the polystyrene backing makes the sheets stiffer. And they are therefore more resistant to warping, and movement. You see, the R Value of the polystyrene insulation itself is quite low.

And also, by the way, why polystyrene cooler boxes don’t keep drinks cool all day long. So what’s the point of fitting insulated siding in the first place, especially as there’s a significant added cost? The answer lies in the thickness of the material.

Why Insulated Vinyl Siding Has a Low R Factor

The insulation value of polystyrene depends on its thickness among other factors. The layer of polystyrene backing on insulated vinyl is nominally 1.25-inch thick. However and here’s the sticking point, it follows the stepped profile of the parent material. And that has the effect of much of it being considerably thinner across the width.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the old adage goes. And by the same token, the ‘R Factor’ of insulated vinyl siding is as low as its thinnest point. Therefore, we can question how long the energy savings will take to cover the siding cost.

This Is Not the Only Way to Insulate Your Vinyl Siding

The R Factor of any type of siding can also be increased, by installing rigid foam insulation sheets or other insulating material behind it. These ensure a more  balanced ‘insulation chain’ across the entire expanse, much the way an insulated ceiling does.

Check your project costs with Valiant Exteriors, Calgary’s local siding experts before signing on the dotted line. We may be able to suggest significant benefits, and cost savings from insulating your walls another way.

More About Siding Styles

Informal Style with Board and Batten Siding

Vinyl Versus Fiber Siding What’s Better

Heat Escapes from an Un-Insulated Campfire: Image Michael Philip BY Public Domain