Dan Brouillet, owner of Great Lakes Window & Siding, in Apple Valley, Minn., started his company nine years ago to sell siding that comes with field-applied contoured foam backing to fill all the space between wall and panel.
Typically, a housewrap such as Tyvek or a flat, fanfold foam backing, nailed on, are standard procedure when installing vinyl. In warm areas of the country, vinyl panels sometimes go on without any backing whatsoever.
But siding contractors who use contoured foam — either attached by manufacturers at the point of production to name-brand panels or installed in the field — say the benefits are easily saleable to homeowners and can represent as much as a 20% to 25% increase in price over vinyl siding installed with more conventional backing material.
“The features and benefits are limitless, when you consider regular flat foam [backing] vs. contoured panels,” argues Arnold Roeland, owner of Roeland Home Improvement, in Rockaway, N.J. Roeland, who's been installing contoured foam backing behind vinyl panels for more than five years, says selling those features against low-bid competitors is not difficult.
Efficient and Durable Suppliers and contractors claim several major benefits for contoured foam backing. With a perm rating of not less than 5.0, it prevents pockets of moisture from building behind panels. Because contoured foam fills all the space behind panels and is generally thicker, contractors who install it claim an R-value of somewhere between 3 and 5 for the product. A third advantage, according to contractors, is impact resistance, which increases durability.
Salespeople in the showroom at Great Lakes Window & Siding make the point that the product is impervious to hail, rocks, stray baseballs, and other objects by offering a demonstration involving a baseball bat.
“We've been through two hailstorms and we haven't had to replace any of it,” Brouillet says.
Selling Longevity For contractors selling what is essentially an enhancement to the installation of vinyl siding, the key to presenting the product is quality and longevity.
“There is a belief,” says Carlo Pinto, owner of Pinnacle Energy, a two branch operation based in Maryland, “that if vinyl siding is not installed properly, over time it will wave and buckle.” Contoured foam “eliminates potential future service calls,” he says, by substantially reducing the possibility of sagging or buckling. Few customers are aware it's out there until salespeople explain it, he says.
But will they pay, say, 20% more?
Find out, Brouillet says, by asking what they'd be willing to pay, after first convincing them of the benefits of the product.
“We let them tell us what it's worth,” he says. “Sometimes they'll say 40%.”
Pinto says a strong argument for this upsell is the energy savings that will result. If the job's 20% to 25% more — say the difference between an $8,000 and a $10,000 vinyl siding job — energy savings that could amount to as much as $580 on utility bills each year are a potent argument. Those savings, he tells customers, will more than make up for the extra money they spend on the contoured-foam backing behind their siding.
“It's not a ‘bigger, better' product,” Roeland says. “It's a better product that needs to be sold with customer education.”