Sponsored by Vinyl Siding Institute
I worked in the siding business for more than 15 years. I once installed siding on 90 houses in one year, with only a three-man crew! Granted, that was when I had a whole lot more drive and a whole lot less around the midsection. During my last few years in the business, my great state of Minnesota had a low-interest-loan program for energy-saving home improvement projects and we installed a ton of insulated siding.
A lot of my customers didn’t know much about insulated siding. All they knew was that it was much more affordable than other options. After I explained the R-2 to R-3 increase in insulation value and how it disrupted the “thermal bridge” effect, the stuff pretty much sold itself. Thermal bridging is when heat migrates out of the home through the wall studs and other framing components.
What I didn’t tell my customers was that insulated siding also made an installer’s life easier. It’s light enough so that one guy can install it by himself, which came in handy when the ever-revolving “new guy” decided not to show up. Installers also like it because it’s stiffer than other products, so if I was dealing with a wavy wall (most of them), the stiffer insulation-backed siding would float over indents in the wall, hiding the imperfections. Also, insulated siding is much more impact resistant than regular vinyl siding and has a higher wind-resistance rating, which meant fewer callbacks.
I was never much of a salesperson, but I knew that it was all about referrals and testimonials. I would call customers back after the first winter (a Minnesota winter, mind you!) and ask how their new insulated siding performed. I always got responses like, “Warmest winter ever.” Or, “I didn’t expect it to cut down on the street noise so much.” My response was always, “Can I quote you on that?” And then I would plaster a whole bunch of positive quotes all over my website and promotional literature. You just can’t buy that kind of advertising.
Insulated siding can be installed by a serious DIYer. It can be cut with any number of common tools, and a good old-fashioned hammer and nails are all that’s needed to hang it. There are a couple of specialty tools required, but not more than $50 worth. I would recommend calling a pro, though, if you own a two-story walkout—too dangerous. Most companies have comprehensive installation manuals, but my top four installation tips would be:
- Hit every stud with a fastener
- Use a fastener length that penetrates into solid wood 1-1/4 in.
- Don’t nail it tight to the wall
- Leave room for expansion
For more information on insulated siding go to
— Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor