Houston is a diverse city that has many quality homes built in the 60’s and 70’s. Many of these homes have the original pine or cedar siding, that was the cladding of choice in the pre-cement board era. The three main factors that determine the sidings lifespan are quality of homeowner maintenance, proximity to water, and amount of sunlight that is received. With proper maintenance, natural wood siding can last a very long time. However, there is a point in which siding cannot be repainted and it will be time to consider replacement.
Cement board siding like James Hardi or Certainteed, is a very good alternative to the natural wood sidings of 50 years ago. These products paint well and are completely impervious to insects. They don’t warp, crack, and do not swell in the summer sun. The clean look of cement board siding gives many design options from traditional to modern styles. You can learn more by going to the manufactures websites that are linked in this post.
Siding replacements are often postponed due to the cost. However, we recently completed a project where we not only were able to give the owner’s home exterior a great look, but we were able to make great energy efficiency gains to the home in the process.
Having been in the remodeling business a number of years, there have been many times when we’ve openned up the walls of a suposedly insulated home to find large gaps and voids in empty walls. We discussed beforehand that we would purchase a couple of rolls of insulation in the event that we would need to fill any gaps.
Installing new insulation in the voids did not take long. We had purchased a roll of 3.5″ thick R13 fiberglass batts. An adjustable utility knife was used to cut the insulation to size.
In addition to replacing the missing insulation, we discussed going back with a 1/2″ foam board. In the hot and humid climate of Houston TX, the foam board serves two purposes. First, it acts as a vapor barrier. This prevents moisture from being transferred from the outside environment to the inside. The foam board has a protective film that prevents any moisture from being pulled into the house. The second purpose is to act as a secondary continuous insulation wrap to the home.
Insulation is measured in R-values. The “R” stands for resistance to temperature change. Therefore, the higher the R value, the more effective the material is as an insulator. 3.5″ thick fiberglass batts are an effective R13. 1/2″ foam board is an R3. So we have in effect, given the homeowner an R16.
There is one more important benefit to the foam, in that it is a continuous insulation layer. Fiberglass batts are sandwiched in walls between studs. However, studs have almost no effective R value. So every 16″, you have a point of transfer that allows heat and cold air to be exchanged between the outside air and the indoor conditioned air. This is what makes the foam board a great secondary insulator.
The homeowner had already previously replaced the windows. We were able to use a canister foam to seal any gaps around windows or doors. Then, we applied window tape around the window flange to give an airtight fit. The Foam Board was then installed tight to the windows. The siding was then installed over the foam board. We were careful to install the siding with enough nails that would penetrate through the foam board and into the structural framing behind.
The change in the indoor climate was almost instantaneous. The homeowner reported being too cold during the first night after the board was completed. The thermostat setting changed from 72 degrees at night to 75. The feeling inside was completely different.
Foam board was only installed in walls that were adjacent to living spaces, not gable attic walls or garage surrounds. We used Tyvek house wrap in those areas.
It’s also important to note that only one side of the home could be done. The other side was made of brick, and we were only replacing the siding. However, there was a substantial improvement in the overall feel of the house.
Cost was only a couple of hundred dollars extra to install the blueboard. So it’s not only smart, it just makes since.
Interested in a siding or window quote for your home? Contact a qualified Siding Contractor who is competent in insulation improvements. Houston area residents, contact Acadia Custom Builders.