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Insulated Siding= Durable Cladding & Secure Seal

Posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Insulated siding was recently featured in an article on PushingGreen.com, a new website targeted to consumers to help them save money by using “green” and energy-saving products. This is great publicity for the product category and will hopefully generate additional interest from environmentally conscious homeowners! Below is the full article from PushingGreen.com

Insulated siding=Durable cladding & Secure Seal



Standards for energy efficiency are rising – a good thing. But with those rising standards comes a more competitive green marketplace.

Take, for instance, insulation. There are new insulative products popping up every year because, let’s face it: sealing your home is complicated! Once you’ve learned some of the key terms – R-values, VOCs, batts and blower-door tests (for starters) – you’re tasked with sorting through all the options.

Well, add another one to the list.

Insulated siding has been on the rise for over a decade and continues to gain traction with homebuilders. The idea seems simple, intuitive and incredibly practical: mix the exterior cladding (one material layered over another) of vinyl siding with the thermal seal provided by insulation in one product. Though insulated siding is not intended as a stand-alone insulation solution, the product is designed to prevent thermal bridging through your studs.

Smart design is nifty, but is it saving you money on heating and utility bills? Recent studies point out that insulated siding can reduce heating and cooling energy use by 1 – 4 percent. To put that in perspective: adding the product to your home will save about 5.5 times more energy than replacing a pre-1993 refrigerator with a newer, more efficient unit.

For homebuilders and DIY retrofitters alike who are searching for the most effective energy-saving solutions, insulated siding seems like a promising product. It packs the weatherization of cladding with the energy-saving qualities of insulation all in one punch.

Pushing Green had questions, of course, so we talked with Matt Dobson, Code and & Regulatory Director of the Vinyl Siding Institute. He fleshed out the basics of insulated siding and its reception within the homebuilding industry.

PG: LEED certification is becoming a major objective for many builders. Could insulated siding fit into the LEED model for homebuilders?

MD: The LEED for Homes program doesn’t recognize many cladding products, but insulated siding is one of the few claddings out there that scores [up to three] points for you.

Also, under the National Green Building standards, insulated siding is one that can get more points than any other cladding out there.

PG: As an energy-saving product designed for the building’s exterior, is insulated siding considered a form of continuous insulation?

MD: It is a type of continuous insulation, but it’s important to recognize that it’s separate from continuous insulation. Continuous insulation is really more foam sheathing insulation, whereas insulated siding is a combination of both.

It’s a great retrofit product because you don’t need to dig too deeply into the walls.   It’s relatively easy to take existing siding off and put insulated siding on, versus other existing energy efficiency techniques which are a little more invasive to the building envelope.

Continuous insulation is wrapping the outside of the house, and so insulated siding would be a compliment to the cavity insulation. For existing applications, this would act as a compliment to what’s already in place.

PG: When we talk about insulation, we have to talk about R-Values. What R-value can consumers expect for most insulated siding?

MD: The foam insulation’s R-value is currently anywhere between 2-3 and it is a higher density insulation than cavity insulation like, say, fiberglass. But it’s really very similar to other types of insulation or foam sheathing.

However, the installation of insulated siding doesn’t require as much labor because it’s one application. Whereas if you were to install an insulated sheathing in a vinyl siding, you’d actually have a two-step scenario where you’d be applying the insulated sheathing and the vinyl siding on top of that.

PG: Why might an alternative product like insulated siding appeal to builders weighing the cost-benefit angles among hundreds of insulation options?

MD: As energy efficiency standards are rising, builders are looking for alternative ways to achieve those standards. For example, in some climate zones, the insulation requirements may be so high that a builder may have to install a 2×6 wall versus a 2×4 wall, but if they go to an insulated siding product, they can actually achieve those higher energy efficiency levels, keep the framing size where it is and reduce thermal bridging. So it’s looked at as a viable option to meet these higher energy requirements.

Like vinyl siding, insulated siding is relatively easy to install. We actually have a certified installer program, where we have installers who go through a pretty rigorous training program and have to become certified. If the consumer is handy, that’s one thing, but if they’re looking for a qualified installer, our certified installer program is certainly a good resource.

But it is a light product. It’s easy to handle. It’s a little bit more difficult to cut than regular vinyl siding because it’s thicker, but it’s not any different – unlike the fiber cement product, where if you’re cutting that product it puts off silica dust. Vinyl siding, you can just cut without any worries of any problems with the environment.

Sealing of the home is a really big deal – not just for energy efficiency but for comfort. We’re actually seeing a big improvement in air sealing because of the way the product fits against the wall.

PG: Federal tax credits have motivated many consumers to focus on energy-saving products when making home improvements. Does insulated siding meet any tax credit guidelines?

MD: Unfortunately, insulated siding doesn’t currently qualify for the tax credit, because its only role isn’t as a home insulated, it’s also siding. But besides the tax credit, it has been shown to reduce the energy bills and improve energy efficiency.
**Reynolds Exteriors uses a dropin insulated siding which DOES qualify for the tax credit. The laminated insulated style of siding referenced above does NOT qualify for this credit.

PG: Insulated siding is generally composed of expanded polystyrene, which may not be the greenest material (compared with the cellulose options offered for interior insulation). Are there other materials being considered for insulated siding?

MD: Generally speaking, it’s been expanded polystyrene. Cellulose would be difficult to have on the exterior because of the potential moisture issues. It’s really a foam plastic application at this point. I think the industry’s seeing the foam plastic as the best option for exterior application because of its durability under the conditions.

VOCs have not really been an issue with vinyl siding at all – there’s not really any off-gassing. There have been some excellent improvements in how the product reacts to ultraviolet in recent years. The VOCs aren’t that much of an issue. The product is incredible as far as durability goes and can last 15-20 years.