We have an older home (1960's) with tongue-and-groove, wood vertical siding. It's very sound but has to be painted every few years and, even when painted, doesn't look that great. As well, the walls are the old 2' X 4' walls with fiberglass insulation and I bet it doesn't top out at even R-10 for heat protection.
However, there's a product out now that combines the best of vinyl siding with an added R-value of between 3.5 and 4. This is called solid-core vinyl siding. With this product my walls can go as high as R-13 with the added convenience of being maintenance-free.
One of my pet peeves with vinyl siding is that it "floats" and feels like it came from a dollar store. Even the expensive stuff feels phony and a home with vinyl siding carries a stigma of being being a cheap build.
Solid core vinyl siding combines the process of cladding a wall with rigid foam insulation and then putting vinyl siding over top. The foam is the backing for the vinyl siding. The foam core also will stop or slow any drafts from the outside and deaden sound from a highway.
Foam core siding also reduces impact by hail or other denting motions by up to 300%. It is made to resemble an attractive clapboard and will not buckle, warp or fly off in a storm as will most vinyl siding products.
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