A common question homeowners ask is, “Do I need house wrap behind vinyl siding?” Perhaps recent damage to their siding showed no house wrap under their vinyl, or they are working with a contractor who doesn’t believe house wrap to be necessary. House wrap is indeed considered a necessity by the majority of contractors as well as housing authorities, including local building and planning departments.
WHAT IS HOUSE WRAP?
Before delving into why you should have house wrap under your vinyl, it is essential to understand what exactly house wrap is.
Decades ago the original form of house wrap used was asphalt-coated felt paper. Over the years house wrap materials have advanced, providing far more protection. The majority of house wrap you will find now is a lightweight, synthetic material primarily designed to be placed between the siding and the sheathing.
There are different ratings for house wrap, depending on your budget and what level of moisture protection is best suited for your home. Barricade House Wrap is an economical option for the average home, offering moisture and tear resistance. Another advantage of this modern house wrap product is that it is semi-transparent in design, which makes installation and locating framing easier for your contractor.
To sum it up, house wrap is a lightweight, paper-like material that is most often used to completely cover the house, directly on top of the sheathing and behind the vinyl siding. Its primary purpose is to prevent air and water leaks that may have seeped past the vinyl exterior.
WHY DO HOMES NEED HOUSE WRAP?
There is no logical reason not to have house wrap under vinyl siding, and many authorities strongly agree that it should be viewed as mandatory, even if your local building codes don’t necessarily require it.
Vinyl siding is one of, if not the most popular exterior cladding for residential homes. It is relatively easy to care for, has a decent lifespan, comes in a variety of colors, and is very affordable. Another benefit of quality vinyl siding is that it is highly water-resistant when correctly installed. Some contractors that favor vinyl may go so far as to say it’s borderline waterproof. In reality, although the vinyl material itself is waterproof, the numerous seams and gaps that occur during installation aren’t.
It is possible for moisture and air leaks to enter through these fine lines and seams, wreaking havoc behind the siding that you may not even notice until significant damage has already occurred. Despite the good qualities of vinyl, it does pay to have extra insurance in the form of house wrap.
Your vinyl siding will perform as the primary defense against moisture and air leaks, but your house wrap comes in strong as a secondary defense. It protects the wall’s sheathing and also helps prevent uncontrolled air circulation, which will improve your home’s insulative abilities.
Considering how effective house wrap is and how simple it is to install behind vinyl, it is a good idea to ensure your contractor includes it when siding your home. Also, during this siding process, you may also consider asking your contractor to add foam insulation between the vinyl and the house wrap for increased R-value. This will help your house wrap perform better and if you’re already siding your house you may as well include it as installing it later will require a complete re-siding.
IS INSTALLING HOUSE WRAP UNDER VINYL DIFFICULT?
Installing house wrap is a straightforward process and won’t add an unreasonable amount of time to your home’s vinyl siding/re-siding. That being said, it is vital that house wrap be properly installed or you won’t get optimal performance from this material. Careless or improper installation of house wrap isn’t going to cause harm to your sheathing or siding necessarily, but it will end up as a waste of money and resources.
If your entire home is being wrapped and will be exposed to the sunlight for a significant amount of time, then you should invest in a material that will resist UV rays for longer than average, like Barricade Plus. Regular house wrap should be installed and covered in vinyl as soon as possible as it isn’t designed for direct exposure to sunlight. Prolonged exposure can cause the wrap to become brittle, thereby increasing chances of tears and reducing its defense capabilities.
Working with an experienced contractor that is skilled at installing house wrap will ensure that the wrap is placed from the bottom up and overlapped properly, secured with proper fasteners (stapling nails or nails) and that all seams are taped.
If you are working with a contractor that tries to convince you not to include house wrap under your vinyl, claiming it isn’t necessary, you would be wise to consider working with someone else. The numerous benefits of house wrap simply make it a necessity for vinyl-clad homes rather than a luxury.