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  • Writer's pictureKatelyn Tusing

Insulated vs Non-Insulated Vinyl Siding

Our crew at Xtreme Home Products is always looking out for our customers. One frequently asked question is; what really is the difference between insulated vs non-insulated vinyl siding? Here is some info we have compiled together to answer that question. Let’s go through how these two siding types compare in the following categories:

  • Cost

  • Appearance

  • Energy Savings

  • Durability

  • Moisture Management

  • Resale Value

Cost (initial and lifetime)

There are many factors that can impact the initial cost of vinyl siding, depending on what features and benefits you select.

For instance, the location and size of your home, the number of windows and doors that must be worked around, lighter shades or premium dark colors, which accent trim will be used, and much more can change the price, all of which we will discuss more in the paragraphs below. Whether you install it yourself or use a qualified contractor with trained crews, insurance, and more can also impact the job cost.

Luckily insulated and non-insulated vinyl siding are both the lowest maintenance siding products available on the market today, reducing their lifetime costs compared to other products. While sidings like fiber cement and wood require regular scraping, painting, and caulking, vinyl siding only requires occasional cleaning with a standard scrub brush, soap, and water from the house.

Insulated vinyl siding is the only product that can reduce utility bills through energy savings, reducing its total cost over time. And because it helps protect the home from impact damage (read more below), it can reduce the number of repairs that must be done to the siding over time.

Appearance

Considering exterior walls are a huge part of the curb appeal of a home, replacing old, worn-out siding is a great way to significantly improve appearance almost instantly. Dark, bold colors like navy blue, barn red, and even charcoal have become very popular in recent years, adding a rich pop of color to homes.

Whether you want your house to stand out on the block or blend into the surroundings, there are tons of options, whether using insulated or non-insulated vinyl siding. However, there are some differences in the appearance of these products.

For starters, insulated vinyl siding features contoured foam that provides support to the siding panel. This added support allows vinyl siding manufacturers to not only make products in the dark, rich colors that previously struggled with extreme temperatures from the sun but also in wider, flatter profiles than ever before. The supportive foam helps maintain sharp, crisp profile lines that best emulate the appearance of real wood.

The foam insulation also helps level the wall under new siding. Homes settle and walls shift over time, creating imperfections that can be seen through thin siding products. By adding a cushioning layer of insulation, insulated vinyl siding can help eliminate the appearance of imperfect walls.

Finally, contoured foam insulation helps protect insulated vinyl siding from impact damage. Traditional, non-insulated vinyl siding creates a hollow void between the siding and the wall, leaving the panel susceptible to impact damage from baseballs, rocks thrown from lawnmowers, or other projectiles.

By significantly increasing impact resistance, insulated vinyl siding will protect a home from damage and maintain a beautiful like-new appearance for many years.

Energy Savings & Comfort

It’s safe to assume that an insulated vinyl siding product is going to provide more energy savings over time than vinyl siding without any insulation. In fact, third-party studies show that an existing 2-story home without cavity insulation can reduce heating and cooling costs by an average of 14.2% by adding insulated vinyl siding.

Even if you have pink insulation in your walls, you are still losing energy through a process called thermal bridging. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends insulation be installed on the outside of a home when new siding is installed.

Aside from monetary savings, you can also improve the comfort level of a home by adding insulation to new siding. Are there rooms in your home that are too cold to enjoy in the winter, or too hot and uncomfortable in the summer?

Adding insulated siding is like wrapping the whole home in a blanket that helps keep heat inside in the winter, outside in the summer, and money in the bank all year.


Durability

Over the years, traditional vinyl siding has acquired a reputation for not being the most durable siding option available on the market. Many advancements have been made in the manufacturing of vinyl siding to improve its durability and resistance to ailments like fading, cracking, and warping.

Although vinyl siding serves as a great barrier between your home and mother nature, the hollow void created between the siding and the wall still leaves the panel susceptible to damage. For instance, take a look around your neighborhood and you’ll probably be able to find signs of vinyl that have been damaged from hail, rocks thrown from the lawnmower, the neighbor’s baseball, and more. Vinyl siding has many benefits such as low maintenance, long-lasting life, and affordability, but resistance to impact has not been its strongest feature.

That is until insulated vinyl siding came into the market in the 1990s. By adding a layer of contoured foam insulation that completely fills the gap between the siding and the wall, the impact of the panel significantly improved. The foam insulation and vinyl siding are permanently adhered together, creating one complete, durable panel.

If that weren’t enough, the foam component of insulated vinyl siding features a built-in insecticide that is safe for people and pets but protects the foam from termite damage. If your home has any termites burrowing into the foam looking for shelter, they will be killed by trying to bite the foam. Just another layer of protection for the siding and your home.

Resale Value

When making a major improvement to your home, such as having new siding installed, you want to be sure it improves the value of your property, and that if the time comes to sell your home, you will get more from it.

Every year Remodeling Magazine puts out a report stating how much a homeowner can expect to recoup from their investment in new siding. According to the 2023 study, 94.7% of siding replacement costs are recouped, which is significantly higher than a major kitchen remodel at 41.8%, roof replacement at 61.1%, and even a window replacement at 68.5%. As an example, if you spend $16,348 on a siding replacement, you can expect to recoup $15,485, leaving the true cost of your siding around $863.

The final factor to consider when calculating return on investment is long-term energy savings. You will never gain money back over time by installing traditional vinyl siding without insulation.

With insulated vinyl siding, the average 2-story home without cavity insulation experiences an average savings of 14.2% on heating and cooling costs. Let’s say you’re spending $250 per month on heating and cooling. If your home is similar to the test house, you could be saving $425 per year, every year you are in the home. This reduced utility cost can also make your home more appealing to potential buyers in the future.

It’s also important to make sure the siding you select will maintain its appearance until the time comes to sell your home. If you select the cheapest vinyl siding that cracks, dents or fades over time, you won’t likely recoup the full 94.7% anticipated by Remodeling Magazine. You need to be sure to have a product on your home that will look as good as the day it was installed.

Final Thoughts

Non-Insulated Vinyl Siding Works Well If You:

To tie it all together, non-insulated vinyl siding tends to work well if you...

  • Have a lower budget for the siding project

  • Aren’t concerned about the long-term appearance/durability of the siding, like when flipping a home for a quick sale

  • Plan to install it yourself but have limited installation experience

Insulated Vinyl Siding Works Well If You:

On the other hand, insulated vinyl siding works well if you...

  • Plan to stay in the home and want to protect it from impact or other sources of damage.

  • Have some room in your budget to pay for the energy-saving insulation up front and earn it back with reduced utility bills.

  • Understand the additional installation steps required to do a quality insulated vinyl siding installation

When you are ready to get started on your vinyl replacement siding, go ahead and give us a call at 704-696-2796. Our crew at Xtreme Home Products would love to give you an estimate and go over the best option for your vinyl replacement siding. We serve Statesville, Troutman, Asheville, Hendersonville, Winston Salem, Taylorsville, Hickory, Denver, Sherrills Ford, Mooresville, Newton, Concord, Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Lincolnton, Charlotte, and surrounding areas.

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