Is A House Wrap Really Necessary?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

With the increase in vinyl siding’s popularity, people are increasingly focused on finding ways to ensure that their siding can last longer than ever. That’s why people put house wrap underneath their vinyl siding. Of course, the wrap is known for being expensive. Is it really worth it? Do you even need it?

You aren’t required to install house wrap under vinyl siding, but it can protect your home from moisture and mold damage. Mold can easily grow under siding on homes that don’t have a house wrap. A house wrap generally costs $0.40-$0.60 per square foot and averages $900 for most homes.

If you’ve been thinking about skipping out on house wrap due to the price tag you’ve seen, hold on a second. When you find out how much of a difference house wraps can make, you’ll change your tune. This article has everything that you need to know regarding house wraps and the necessity of them.

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What Exactly Does A House Wrap Do?

House wrap is a liner that is designed to be water and dust resistant, but lets water escape through the membrane. It’s the easiest way to prevent mold from growing underneath your vinyl siding, which in turn, helps protect your building’s walls from damage. An excellent way to think about it is as a “base” for your siding.

Using house wrap also has an added perk for the contractors that are installing your vinyl siding. Since it’s transparent, your contractor will be able to see your house’s framing. This makes their job easier and also means you can count on a better installation. From that perspective alone, getting house wrap is an excellent way to invest in your vinyl siding’s staying power.

What Can Happen If You Don’t Have House Wrap?

If you aren’t already sold on it, it’s a good idea to understand what house wrap can help prevent. Using house wrap can prevent the following from happening:

  • Moisture Trapping. Vinyl siding is known for being waterproof, but that doesn’t mean that moisture can’t get trapped inside the seams of your siding. This can lead to a lot of damage on the inside of your siding, which can deteriorate your building’s materials faster and cause you to replace your siding.
  • Bad Insulation. Not using house wrap during your installation can also make airflow more noticeable. This, in turn, can cause your home to lose out on much-needed insulation during icy winters and boiling hot summers. If you’re tired of sweltering houses during summer’s dog days, then you will want to get house wrap installed.
  • Higher Energy Bills. Bad insulation means that you will need to spend more on heating and air conditioning. No one likes having higher bills. So, if you think about it, it’s better to pay more upfront than worry about paying extra on the ever-increasing cost of electricity.
  • Building Code Violations. Building codes are instated as a way to help protect consumers and ensure that houses are safe to live in. Most cities have codes that require the use of house wrap for homes that are using vinyl siding. Unless you want to deal with a code violation, you’ll get wrapped.
  • Wall Damage. If left long enough, moisture trapped underneath unwrapped siding can lead to mold and mildew growth on your building’s walls. This can lead to extensive damage to your walls and surrounding areas.

How Much Does House Wrapping Cost?

This is a little bit of a loaded question, since you’re going to be paying for several things when you get your house wrap. Basic house wrap material is reasonably cheap, at only $0.40 to $0.60 per square foot. Installing the wrap, at a bare minimum, will cost between $250 to $350. If you opt for premium installation, you can expect it to clock in at around $900 for an average-sized home.

Though the price tag might be high, the truth is that the money you’re spending is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your siding will be safe.

How Long Does It Take To Wrap A House?

If you’re worried about time being a factor, it’s a valid concern. Not all homeowners have all summer to finish their remodeling project, after all. Thankfully, this is usually a quick project that will only take a day or two to complete. To find out how long it’ll take for your home to be fully wrapped, ask a contractor.

Do Garages Need House Wrap?

In most cases, garages are still expected to keep the same standard of building quality as regular homes. Most garages will have house wrap installed as they’re being built. After all, they are still susceptible to the same issues that come with moisture that can plague the main portion of your house.

Are There Any Situations Where House Wrap Isn’t Necessary?

Kind of. If your local city building codes don’t require house wrap, you might not need it in order to continue with your siding installation. Moreover, if you already have sheathing taped onto your home, you might not need it as much as others. Still, most building professionals would suggest adding it regardless because of the added safety it offers your home.

How Long Does House Wrap Last?

House wrap has been evolving for decades, and it’s been getting more and more durable with each passing year. It’s safe to assume that your house wrap will last for as long as your siding will…if not longer.

The more significant issue here is making sure that your house wrap is covered in time. After wrapping your home, you should expect to install vinyl siding on your house within four to nine months. If you wait longer than that, you can risk having to re-wrap your home. Thankfully, most remodeling projects don’t last that long!

Do I Have To Re-Wrap My House When I’m Replacing Vinyl?

Because house wrap is so durable, most homes won’t need to be re-wrapped when you’re replacing vinyl. However, it can’t hurt to add another layer to your home. If you notice mold or other signs of deterioration, you probably should re-wrap your home since the current wrap isn’t capable of protecting your house.

When in doubt, it’s a good idea to talk to your contractor about your options. They often have a keen eye when it comes to spotting problems before they become major issues. If they say you don’t need an additional re-wrap, it’s usually okay to skip it and get straight to the vinyl installation.

Can I Wrap My House Myself?

You can save even more money by wrapping your house yourself, rather than hiring a professional to do it. You will only need to purchase the materials and tools necessary to get the job done. Other than that, you won’t need to pay the expensive labor fees and can save a few hundred dollars.

Instructions For Wrapping Your House

  • Put the wrap below the mudsill. This is for water and air management. Then, seal the bottom using caulk or tape. You should attach this to the sheathing. As you go, you will want the layers to overlap, sort of like shingles do as you go up the wall.
  • Overlap vertical and horizontal seams. The vertical seams should overlap by about 6 to 12 inches. The horizontal ones should overlap by 6 inches, but the upper layer should sit over the lower layer. Not the other way around.
  • Apply up the gables. You will need to apply the wrap up the gables before you install it to the exterior trim. If the gable is not covered, then water can seep into your framing and behind all the house wrap below it.
  • Wrap under the cantilevers. You will also need to seal the underside as well. You can add a solid sheet for covering the bottom and then wrap around that. Then, take the seams with 2-inch tape. You can use the 3-inch tape for any of the house wraps that are wrinkled.
  • Double-check your wrap. After you’re finished securing, you’ll want to check over all the areas. Particularly, you’ll want to look over the top to ensure it’s secured the way it’s supposed to be. This will help water from trickling behind your house wrap.

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Our Final Take

If you have to ask whether or not house wrap is necessary, let us fill you in on this one. In the vast majority of cases, it is an essential investment. Between the importance of complying with building codes, its ability to protect your siding from damage, and the way that it can help lower your energy bills, house wrap is an affordable way to make sure you get more bang out of your remodeling buck.

No matter how you slice it or dice it, house wrapping is a smart practice to follow. Even if your city codes don’t require it, most building pros would agree that it’s a basic component of vinyl siding installation. So, in conclusion, yes, it really is necessary if you want to keep your home looking pristine for years to come.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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