Installing Vinyl Siding Tips

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With a variety of colors and lap-widths to choose from, vinyl siding offers homeowners an inexpensive option when siding or re-siding a home. When installed correctly, vinyl siding provides an attractive low maintenance exterior that resists weather conditions, cracking and peeling. Having the correct tools and supplies is imperative when you’re ready to install vinyl siding, and a few builder tips will make the installation process easier.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl siding
  • Starter strip
  • Corner trim
  • J-mold
  • Tin snips
  • Measuring tape
  • Hammer
  • 2-inch roofing nails
  • Chop saw (optional)
  • Start at the back of the house. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the installation process before you reach the front of a house. Also, by installing vinyl siding strips from the back edge and working forwards, the overlapped edges will not show from the front of the house, making the siding look seamless from that angle.

  • Hang vinyl siding but don’t nail it tightly. This is a common mistake new installers make. Vinyl siding comes with a top factory edge that features nailing slots every few inches. Above the slots is a small ridge, approximately 1/4-inch deep. This ridge is your guide to where the head of the nail should rest. For a smooth look, hammer in 2-inch roofing nails no deeper than this ridge. The head of the nail will not be flush with the house.

  • Use a factory starter strip and level it. Before you put on the first piece of vinyl siding, install a starter strip that runs the entire length of the wall. The bottom lip of this strip should hang below the sill plate. Take your time and make sure this strip is perfectly level, using a long carpenter’s level and popping a chalk string as a guide. If your starter strip is level, the rest of your siding will be level.

  • Install J-mold around windows and put vinyl corners on before running the siding up the wall. The most time consuming part of vinyl siding occurs before you hang the first piece of siding. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when installing J-mold and corners.

  • Leave room for expansion. This tip corrects another common mistake: Vinyl siding expands and contracts with the temperature and if you don’t allow expansion room, it will buckle. Leave 1/4-inch at the end of both sides of the siding strip when installing. For instance, if your measurement calls for a 96-inch piece of siding, cut a 95 1/2-inch piece and center it, leaving 1/4 inch on each end. The ends will not be visible as they tuck underneath the corners and J-mold.

  • Hit studs when you nail on the siding. On a typical house, the studs run 16 inches apart. The easiest way to make sure you hit a stud with each nail is to find the studs before you begin and make a vertical pencil line all the way from under the eave to the bottom of the wall for each stud. When you’re nailing the siding on, the lines will show you where to place each nail.

Tips & Warnings

  • Vinyl siding must rest loosely on the exterior of the home for a sleek look. If you accidentally drive a nail all the way in, use a nail bar and pull it back out. In addition, place your nails in the middle of the nailing slots to allow the siding to expand and contract without buckling.
  • Measure and cut each piece separately. A chop saw is handy but you can cut each siding strip with tin snips.
  • Observe safety precautions if you operate power tools.
  • Photo Credit Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng.
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