Vinyl Siding Leaks – Period!
Understanding The Limits of Vinyl Siding
Today as I was driving home for lunch I passed a new home under construction and witnessed something that really bothered me. A contractor was installing vinyl siding on a new home that was sheathed with OSB. However, there was one very crucial detail missing that really bothered me. The house had absolutely no type of house wrap, rain screen or even tar paper on it, just vinyl siding attached directly to the OSB sheathing.
All Vinyl Siding Leaks
Everyone needs to understand that vinyl siding leaks and allows water/moisture to pass through it and make contact with the house sheathing. While this may be a surprise to home owners it surely shouldn’t be a surprise to reputable contractors.
According to the Vinyl Siding Institute:
Vinyl siding has always been designed as an exterior cladding, not a water-resistive barrier. Vinyl siding is designed to allow the material underneath it to breathe; therefore, it is not a watertight covering. Because of its design and application, it provides a supplemental rain screen that enhances the water-resistive barrier system by reducing the amount of water that reaches the underlying water-resistive barrier.
So you can see why I might be a tad upset to see someone’s new home being built with no water-resistive barrier. At a very minimum a good quality house wrap or rain screen material should be installed. In addition, flashing around windows, penetrations and roofing transitions should be used. Unfortunately the house that I saw being built today will likely suffer from serious water damage in the next 5 to 10 years.
If you’re building a new home or having new siding installed be sure to insist on a proper water-resistive barrier. In the photo above you can see a house being built with vinyl siding, house wrap and proper flashing details. If you see bare wood with vinyl siding going up be sure to call a time out!
The most important details when using any type of siding are the flashing details. This is even more important when using vinyl siding. I’ve included links to some of our flashing detail articles to help you understand some of the basics.
Wow. This is kind of scary to see. I have experienced a lot of water damage issues as a result of this kind of contractor neglect, and I feel so bad for the homeowner since they really have no idea what is under their siding, or more to the point, what is not. The local building departments should really get focused on this issue and make it code to put a waterproof barrier underneath vinyl siding to prevent future leaking issues that are almost guaranteed to happen.
That contractor was obviously incompetent and should be reported to the local BBB. This might have been avoided had the customer gotten at least 3 estimates with detailed job descriptions and details of their processes. Also if they had Goggled “steps for siding your home” or something similar, they would of had a clearer understanding of what to expect as they talked to different contractors to see just how much they knew about what they were doing.
That’s pathetic. I can’t comprehend how a contractor could knowingly do that. He must know that something has to be between the siding and the sheathing. But apparently house wrap or even tar paper cost too much for him and he doesn’t care about the home owner. This is even worse than a contractor that does install house wrap but doesn’t bother to tape the seams with the correct tape.
Brett – It’s horrible….I can’t even believe what I saw….really sad….sad that guys like that are scamming folks.
Vapor Barrier is code where I live. Installing anything over plain osb is insane, how can any one call them selves experts or installers if they do not even care of the results of there work 3 years down the road. Very nice article on what not to do!
Hey, this is a HUGE problem. Has anyone seen the Vinyl Siding Institutes position on this?
Todd, after reading your informative articles about foam board insulation and vinyl siding I have one question.
I have a 2100 sq ft split level house which a basement and attic and is in dire need of new siding. The house was built in 1978 and has the orignal siding with only 1/4 foam boards. Next summer I was planning on replacing the siding with 2 inch foam board over the tyvak (I had a couple reputable siding companies to view the project and they said installing 2 inch boards is not a problem). My question is would you recommend this or do I need a water barrier coating over the foam boards and under the siding? I live in the Chicagoland area with brutal winters. Thanks, Richard
Richard – You’re on the right track. We have installed exterior foam like this on projects where the Tyvek (or other building wrap) gets installed, followed by the foam board. The foam board must be taped and sealed properly. Then the vinyl is installed. You can read more about it here: http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/foam-board-insulation-vinyl-siding/
I hope that helps!