How To Install Vinyl Siding | Read Our Installation Guide

Our guide on how to install vinyl siding gives you everything you need to know to do it yourself. Learning the basics of installation and can save you a boatload of money when it comes to vinyl siding costs. Here are some basics that will show you with ease.

How to Install Vinyl Siding: Terms To Know

Siding Panels
The panels are usually 12’H x 6″W in size. The panels have a nailing flange along the top of the panel and an interlocking J-shaped flange on the bottom. The panels connect easily by hooking the bottom of each panel (the J-shaped flange) into the top (the nailing flange) of the panel below.

This is used to trim the ends of the panels in order to accommodate windows and doors or hide cut edges under windows or eaves. J-channel has an open loop which accommodates the edge of the vinyl siding panels and comes in 10 foot lengths, which can be trimmed to any size needed.

Under-sill Or Utility Trim
This trim is also used under windows and eaves, where it may be necessary to remove the nailing flange. To connect the panels to the under-sill or utility trim, use a snap-lock punch to indent the panel’s top edge before snapping the panel into the tight loop of the trim to make installation easier.

Inside And Outside Corner Posts
These are another important trim option because they cover the panel ends at both inside and outside corners to provide a more finished look and keep the siding in place.

How To Install Vinyl Siding: Tools You Will Need

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Nail hole punch
Allows you to punch holes in cut panels to provide spaces for nailing where needed.

Snap lock punch
Indents the edges of panels to make it easier to snap into utility trim.

Unlocking tool
Separates panels from each other when necessary.

Tin snips, utility knife, circular saw
For making cuts in the panels.

Additional Things To Consider
Vinyl siding is typically made using PVC, which expands and contracts. It is important to keep in mind the expanding and contracting nature of PVC when figuring out how to install vinyl siding to ensure a proper installation of the product.

Nails should be placed in the center of the opening when nailing the panels or other materials. This provides room for movement in either direction if the product expands or contracts.

Panels should have about 1/16″ of space between the piece of vinyl siding and the nail head. To make sure you have not nailed too tightly, you should be able to move the piece back and forth a little.

Nail Holes
If there is no nail hole opening in a place where you need to place a nail and the vinyl siding panel is not being connected to a piece of utility trim, then it is important to make a new home for the nail with a nail hole punch. Nails should never be placed directly into the vinyl siding, but only in the nail holes.

There should be a ¼” clearance between the vinyl siding panel ends and corner posts, J-channel or eaves. If the product is being installed in below freezing temperatures, a clearance of 3/8″ should be used.

Hang Loose
When correctly installed, vinyl siding panels should hang loosely when locked together. They should not be pulled tight.

Installation Tips

In order for your vinyl siding installation to go smoothly, it is important to correctly prepare the area that you are working on, to make sure you have the correct parts and tools, and to take into consideration any factors that will affect a proper installation of the product. Once you’re ready to get started, here are some tips to help your installation be a success! Click for our tutorial on how to remove your vinyl siding.

Before getting started, make sure that you have nothing in the way of your work. Remove light fixtures, shutters, downspouts or anything else that may get in the way of the vinyl siding installation. It is also best to tie back branches from trees or shrubs that may interfere with your workspace.

Areas around windows and doors should also be prepared prior to installation by scraping away any old caulk between the edges of the openings and the old siding, so that the new siding will fit correctly.

Ensure that the surface is flat. If there is unevenness in the walls, center 1 x 3 furring strips 16″ from the foundation and the eaves and around all doors and windows.

Start level. Locate the lowest corner of the house by using a mason’s line and a line level. From this corner, take the measurement specified by the manufacturer and use chalk to draw a level line around the house. Once this is done, nail a starter strip at the bottom of the house, using the chalk line as a guide to keep it level.

Keep ¼” clearance whenever two pieces of siding run into each other. ¼” clearance should also be left below the eaves when installing inside or outside corner posts or any other trim.

J-channel should be installed along the tops and sides of doors and windows. Gable end walls and sloped eaves also require J-channel. To make a corner drip edge, make an indentation in the J-channel.

Under-sill trim should be used under windows and horizontal eaves.

When contemplating how to install vinyl siding panels, begin at the starter strip and work your way up the house. Panels should overlap 1″ at joints and joints should be spread at least 4″ from each other from row to row. If panels meet J-channel or corner posts, be sure to leave ¼’ of space for expansion. Panels should hang loosely and should not be forced tightly against the row below.

After every few rows of panels (about 5 or 6 is good), check to make sure that the panels are still level.

If panels need to be cut, such as under windows, mark the area that needs to be cut out on the panels and then cut from the top of the panel down using a tin snip. Then use a utility knife to score the panel horizontally where it needs to be cut and the panel should break apart. Once cut, use a snap-lock punch to indent the cut side 16″ on center (be sure to check that the lugs are located on the exterior of the vinyl siding panel). Siding can then be pressed into place.

When you need to cut a full panel for under the eaves, it is best to use a circular saw with a fine toothed blade. Cut the panel into the appropriate width, use a snap-lock punch to indent the cut edge 16″ on center, and then position and press the panel into place.

With a bit of knowledge, the right tools and some patience, you’ll know how to do it yourself, while saving yourself a lot of money on a contractor. The effort you put in now will last a long time if done correctly. Periodicaly cleaning vinyl siding will keep it looking new and dirt free.

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