Teach me about vinyl siding.
June 8, 2007 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Our house needs new siding, and we've had several siding contractors out to give us quotes. There's not a lot of talk about materials though - is this normal?

We're in Saskatchewan, so we also want to get some insulation put on at the same time. One of the contractors offers InsulPlank, which looks like a good product. In particular, I like the fact that the insulation will give the siding more structure, presumably helping it to keep it's shape and prolonging it's life. This is in contrast with just putting up an inch thick slab of styrofoam under the siding, which will just make the house that much bigger on the outside.

Have you installed vinyl siding, or better yet, something along the lines of InsulPlank? It's a lot of money, so I want to make sure we're not doing it again in 5 years (or even 10 or 15.)

Advice, experiences and tips more than welcome
posted by Nodecam to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't say much about InsulPlank, but I've heard vinyl siding is bad because if your house catches on fire, the fumes of it can themselves kill you. Also, its production involves a lot of pollution. The documentary Blue Vinyl has more info than I remember.
posted by salvia at 11:33 AM on June 8, 2007

This isn't exactly what you're looking for. But seemed relevant to your question.
posted by serazin at 11:39 AM on June 8, 2007

What kind of installation is being considered? What is on your house now? Will that be removed before the new siding is put on? Or do they just plan on installing new stuff over old?
posted by jeanmari at 12:04 PM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: New over old - pretty much all that's been presented is styrofoam insulation - though one contractor, who came in at nearly twice the price of the next highest bid did have a different insulation product - Thermowall (similar to insulplank, but their website is "suspended")

We pretty much dismissed them out of hand after the sales pitch, regardless of the price though.

Right now we've got some sort of compressed wood siding on there that they say they can install over top of. The house was built in the 70's if that helps.
posted by Nodecam at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2007

One thing you MIGHT have to take into consideration. A friend of mine just dropped $20K USD on new siding for his house. Then the neighborhood association enforcers walked by and said, "Oh, you can't do that. It violates your deed." And evidently some city code, too, as well. So be sure to check all relevant documents to make certain that your local municipality and neighborhood groups can't complain about you.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 12:14 PM on June 8, 2007

I would encourage you to not install new over old. There are too many ways that a company can mess this up. It is incredibly difficult to get new siding installed over old to look right considering the depth of existing windows and doorframes. That is not only a concern aesthetically. This will also affect the flashing that keeps water away from your house, windows and doors.

Is your concern new siding? Insulation? Both? Is the old siding wood or vinyl? Putting new siding over old, even with an insulator such as styrofoam, won't guarantee that your insulation problems will be solved unless you've figured out where your insulation problems lie. Is there no insulation in the walls currently? I would find that hard to believe of a house built in the 1970's but I guess it is possible. If there is insulation in there already, you may have problems with cracks or openings in the envelope of the house...are window frames and door frames sufficiently insulated? Everything caulked? Are there crawlspaces that are uninsulated? Etc.

And in case you should decide to go with styrofoam and vinyl siding, don't let the installer use house wrap (usually Tyvek) underneath.
posted by jeanmari at 12:26 PM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks jeanmari. We've got lots of insulation already - can't avoid it in Saskatchewan - we're just trying to improve the energy efficiency of the house a little. We need new siding, and since we're getting new siding, it's a good opportunity to add to the insulation a little bit for minimal extra cost. There are government grants that will help pay for the insulation improvement too.

If it's a big deal, we can probably take the old siding off ourselves without too much trouble apparently. One of the contractors said that what we've got is nearly the easiest siding to remove. I was thinking of suggesting that to the eventual contractor anyway.

I'm curious as to your warning over Tyvek - I've never heard that before, and as far as I'm aware it's pretty much "standard operating procedure" around here. Could you fill me in on that?

Midnight Creeper: No worries on neighbourhood associations etc. it's not a historic area, so no worries on that front, and the housing is extremely varied. Probably 1/4 of the houses in the area already have newish vinyl installed, with 1/2 still with the original siding, and another 1/4 with stucco or a variant. Good thought though.
posted by Nodecam at 12:45 PM on June 8, 2007

If they are installing new over old, how are they going to add insulation? In between the layers? It wouldn't seem that they could add much without it bulging out pretty badly!
posted by Big_B at 1:14 PM on June 8, 2007

Nevermind, I see that you are probably referring to the insulating properties of the Insulplank.
posted by Big_B at 1:16 PM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: My advice about the Tyvek and styrofoam was only if you leave the old siding on and I'm trying to figure out where I had recently read it. I read tons about houses and home improvement for my job and my personal interests so it could be anywhere. But I'll keep trying to find the reference.

In the meantime, here are some interesting links to get you up to speed on siding:

Holmes on Homes

This Old House - Part 1

This Old House - Part 2

Deciding on Siding

The Best Info on Housewraps

The Breaktime Pros weigh in on styrofoam vinyl siding here and here

And, now that I think about it, I will never know more about siding as those pros at Breaktime. Consider posting the question there for some really qualified advice :)
posted by jeanmari at 8:39 PM on June 8, 2007

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