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Dan Vorona asked:

May 8, 2014
What kind of siding should I install? Hardie Board, or Vinyl with foam backing?
I've got 46 year old extension on the back of my house. We just bought the house 2 years ago, but supposedly the room was originally build as a 3 season room and someone through in some ventilation and converted it a bedroom. Some people have suggested Hardie board, some others have suggested a vinyl siding with a foam backing such as Craneboard. Right now there is 0 insulation on the outside under the existing aluminum siding. The room is extremely cold, it has a flat roof, and a old crawl space under it. Tearing it down is not an option at this time. I know I need new windows as well since they are original. All contractors are telling me they will install a 3/4" to 1.5" insulating foam board first, then a Tyvek wrap, and then one of the mentioned sidings. I live near Chicago, so this winter the room was almost unusable. We've done a lot of research, but are still confused on what siding and insulation combations should really be used. Suggestions?
Jun 3, 2014

Dan, Both Hardie Plank and a 3/4" and 1.5" insulating foam board are good options. There is also the choice of using Insulated Siding that is a custom contoured foam backer. It fits to the specifications of the siding panel you choose. Best, Ken

Michelle Slowe answered:

May 8, 2014

We at NEWPRO have a alternate view from our industry colleague, Mr. Damora. Since the greatest concern you voiced was the lack of insulation in your extension, we recommend Vinyl Composite Siding, also know as Insulated Vinyl Siding

Hardie Plank is a cement board; it's composition is sand and water. It is heavy on the wall and provides no insulation value. Formed to resemble wood, it fails to provide a deep, rich grain and does not come close to the look of wood. It is highly susceptible to mold and mildew. Hardie Plank has many seams and the seams must be sealed or water can infiltrate behind the siding. It can crack and if it does, you must tear the whole wall down in order to replace just one plank. It also is not maintenance free and requires painting every 10 years.

Insulated Vinyl Siding solves all of the aforementioned problems. It has high R-value, some up to 5.3, and has the potential to yield an 80% return on investment due to the increased energy efficiency and lower energy bills. You can learn more about this from the highly respected Remodeling Magazine's Cost to Value 2014 Report.

Additional benefits of Insulated Vinyl Siding include:

  • Having a deep, rich grain and a real wood look
  • There are less seams, which are water-tight
  • It rarely ever needs painting
  • It is mold and mildew resistant
  • There are far less installation problems and less likely to need repairs.
  • If repairs are needed, its easy to replace a single panel. 

I hope this information is helpful. Being located in Massachusetts, we didn't get nearly as rough of a winter as the Chicago area, but we can certainly understand why you put insulation so high on your Siding Needs List! 

All the best,

Michelle Slowe


May 8, 2014

Without question you should invest your money in Fiber Cement Siding for the following reasons:

1. Authentic and more tranditional appearance.

2. Better fire rating.

3. Does not fade like vinyl.

4. Higher Return on Investment. 

5. The ability to paint your house should you choose, down the road.

6. Will not warp, buckle or move on the walls.

7. The trim finshes that can be achieved with Fiber Cement are not possible with vinyl.

How would you like to have been the last person on your block to have bought Aluminum Siding 30 years ago?  That is the reality of today's exterior cladding market.  The vinyl industry is scambling but have yet to come up with a viable alternative to Fiber Cement. There are some new composites that are starting to make inroads but they are still too costly and are in limitied profiles.

Be sure to choose a Perfered James Hardie Contractor so you know all the best practices will be followed in accourdace with the manufactuere's specifications.

Unlike vinyl, Hardie Board needs a skilled craftsman to insure a propoer and long lasting installation.

Michael Damora

K & B Home Remodelers 

May 11, 2014

You mentioned this room being over a crawl space. We have found that most spaces are incorrectly conditioned.....or should I say say, not conditioned at all. Insulation is typically installed within the floor joist, leaving the crawlspace open and unconditioned. The foundation walls and ground should have a vapor barrier installed over them and insulation should be installed around the perimeter. You wouldn't do the wall that connects to the main house. You want this space to be treated like an extension of the basement.

Jun 12, 2014

Any insulated siding should suffice. Vinyl siding with a backer board or insulation should make the room usable.

Hardie Siding is effective as well as it is more durable but is more expensive.

Make sure to find the a highly energy efficient window. There are several quality manufactures in your area.

Best wishes.

Sep 15, 2014

James Hardie Fiber cement siding would be the best option for the new siding on your home. Hardie House Wrap will help to create a thermal envelope for the exterior of your home.  Foam sheathing can be installed on the exterior walls to increase the insulation R-Factor of your walls. The insulation issues you are having might also be related to problems with your windows in the addition. We recommend that you have the windows inspected as well. The James Hardie materials have an excellent return on investment as well as beauty. It will give your siding the look of real wood without the maintenance. Vinyl siding has serious issues with fading and doesn't provide the long term beauty that James Hardie products will give you.

Please feel free to contact us for additional information.

Jun 15, 2014

It sounds like the back room of the house was really cold during the winter. One thing to consider is to insulate your house from the outside before using either type of siding.  This can be done by the right contractor.  Next, what type of siding do the neighbors have?  While you want your home to be unique, to a point, this is something to consider.  Hardie does give you a more traditional look and will allow you to change the color scheme of your home at a later point if you chooose to do so.  While vinyl siding can also be an excellent choice, I would stay away from insulation backed products.  To guarantee a good vapor barrier Fanfold insulation board is the better choice.  It comes in different thicknesses and is installed before the siding.  This allows the contractor to tape the seams and avoid gaps in the insulation.  There are two things to consider using insulation board.  They typically give you minimum R value for insulation versus removing the exteror cladding and insulating between the wall studs.  Second, using a very thick exterior insuation board will probably require trimming out all wiindows and doors.  Putting on thick insulation board will, in effect, cause the siding to significantly stick past all openings and may not give you a look that you like.  Please visit for more ideas and possible answers to your questions. We would also be willing to visit your home to give you some ideas and solutions.  Call 847.895.8125

Bruce Wiegan of BNW Builders PRO answered:

Apr 18, 2015

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May 11, 2014

I think you really need to see both on a home and decide what looks better to you.  Vinyl will be cheaper and is a more modular system and less prone to leakage and installation errors. 

Apr 21, 2015

As a Denver roofing and siding company, we would suggest using a hardie board product. This would ultimately come down to your project budget, as insulated vinyl siding will be about 50% cheeper than a hardie board product.

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