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Amanda Harvey
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Amanda
Harvey

How to install vinyl siding

Last modified: 2019/10/09 | Approximate reading time 6 mins

Although many tend to explore the boundaries of personal style in their home’s interior, the exterior surfaces are a direct extension of your design preferences. Curb appeal has a real impact on resale value and overall allure of a home. When it comes to the exterior, there are plenty of options to consider if you’re thinking about a renovation. If you're considering updating your siding, this article will look at one of the tried-and-true options on the market: vinyl.

Vinyl siding is a favourite among homeowners for a variety of reasons including its durability, longevity and how little maintenance is required to keep it beautiful. Plus, there are plenty of options on the market when it comes to colour and style. We’ll offer all of the relevant information about this material as well as the installation process below.

Here’s how to install vinyl siding

vinyl siding

source: unsplash

Plan and prepare

Before diving headfirst into this renovation project, it’s important to consider your reasons for choosing vinyl siding. This includes choosing the colour or style right for your home. Vinyl siding is an excellent option for homeowners working within a small to medium-sized budget. This is because, in the world of siding materials, it rests on the inexpensive end of the scale. Another huge advantage of working with vinyl siding is that it doesn’t require a repaint or re-stain every few years. If you’re looking for low maintenance, low-cost exterior siding option, then you may just be in the market for vinyl.

A great way to see if vinyl is the right fit for your house would be to check out other homes where this material has been installed. If you like the look of it, then go for it! The next step will be deciding the type of vinyl you’d like to install. Vinyl generally comes in a smooth or textured option plus high gloss or low gloss finishes. Not only this, there are a wide variety of colours to choose from, some which even resemble wood. Do plenty of research to settle on the right vinyl siding for your home.

One thing we should mention is that in some neighbourhoods and municipalities, vinyl siding could affect the resale value of your home. This will only be the case if you’re living in an older or historic neighbourhood. In the majority of places, it should not be an issue but it’s best to be safe especially with such a large scale change.

Need help with this project? Hire a contractor

This project can definitely be completed with the helping hands of a friend or loved one, but hiring a general contractor will guarantee that the job is completed with precision and ease. This is especially true if you haven’t done this job before, as installing vinyl siding does require some time, skill and attention to detail. As with most installation projects, the quality of the installation will generally affect the longevity of materials. Even the most expensive or high-quality siding can warp when incorrectly installed. Thus, working with a contractor can actually prolong the lifespan of your siding.

Of course, when it comes to choosing a contractor, there are specific things to look for. If this is the route you’ve chosen, check out our article for more information.

Gather materials, prepare your home’s exterior

home renovation tools

source: unsplash

Now, if you’ve decided to take this project on yourself, we’ll begin with the simpler steps of gathering materials. The list of tools you will need is as follows:

  • Measuring tape;
  • Level;
  • Hacksaw;
  • Power saw;
  • Carpenters saw;
  • Claw hammer;
  • Tin snips;
  • Folding Ruler;
  • Metal square;
  • Snap-lock punch;
  • Pry bar;
  • Sawhorse;
  • Step ladder.

Alongside this extensive list of tools, you’ll also need to gather materials for the job. This will include lengths of J-channel, flashing, building paper, corrosion-restraint nails as well as your vinyl siding. Vinyl corners and trim may also be necessary to cover windows and doors.

After gathering tools and materials and before you begin the installation process, it’s necessary for you to prepare the outdoor surfaces of your home. If you have any existing issues in your home’s siding, now is the time to deal with them. You’ll need to fix any pressing problems, especially those related to moisture as vinyl siding does have the tendency to mask moisture problems. Loose or damaged boards will need to be replaced or tightened. If you find any plants or trees obstructing the area, do your best to pull them back or tie them up without damaging them.

Begin vinyl siding installation 

Start by removing any siding or finishing that isn’t necessary for your installation including old pieces of trim or window dressing. Your walls will need to be sheathed with a substrate in order for the siding to sit in place. This could be plywood or OSB.

When it comes to the actual installation, there are a few rules that are crucial to follow when it comes to fitting the vinyl as well as nailing it down. As the weather moves from hot to cold throughout the year, vinyl siding has a tendency to expand and contract. With this in mind, it’s crucial to allow space for the siding to contract and expand. If you don’t leave enough room, the vinyl siding may buckle. When you do begin installing, it's crucial to leave a gap of 0.6cm or 1/4 inch between panels. Furthermore, do not drive nails in too tightly and instead, leave about 1/16 inch between the nail and siding. Again, this will simply allow for movement.

Soffit and fascia installation

Now, we’re moving on to installing! You’ll want to nail the J-channel pieces directly under the interior edge of the fascia. The J-channel is in place to provide a watertight seal. Center nails in the channels slots and follow our earlier suggestion of avoiding driving them in all the way. If the soffit of your house wraps around, then it’ll be necessary to make provisions for the change in direction. This can be remedied by installing two J-channels on a diagonal, where corners of the roof and house meet. Soffit and vent pieces will need to be cut at an accurate angle to accommodate J-channel.

If necessary, you will need to cut your vinyl siding to fit your soffit. Do bear in mind that soffit pieces should measure ¼ inch shorter than the length of the soffit. Following this, start pushing each panel into the J-channel. If you’re finding this to be a difficult task, use the pry bar and locking tool in order to pull the channel lip back and get panels to fit comfortably in place.

Next, slide in fascia siding pieces. This can be done by removing the gutter or downspout and sliding lengths of fascia under the gutter apron. Secure the top edge of the fascia and once complete, you can reattach the gutters.

Attaching vinyl siding to exterior walls

vinyl siding full house

source: unsplash

Begin this step by measuring the length of the walls. Start from the eaves and move directly to the bottom of the surface. This will allow you to determine how many panels you’ll require for each wall. Divide the length of the wall by the width of a single piece of siding. When taking this measurement, what you’re hoping for is a whole number.

If a whole number isn’t the final result, then you’ll need to leave gaps or cut pieces to size in order to wholly cover the wall. This will involve cutting the final piece of siding lengthwise to fill in remaining space. If you end up cutting the last row of siding, it’ll be necessary to cut the length of J-channel.

Once the amount of vinyl siding needed is determined, you’ll choose the spot to begin installing on the exterior wall. Drive a nail through the chosen point, then using a lengthy ruler or measuring tape, trace a chalk line around the perimeter of the house. Above the chalk line, you’ll want to nail a piece of plywood as this will act as a “shelf” to hold up your first row of vinyl. Next, install the starter strip to the plywood. Before you begin installing vinyl pieces, you’ll need to secure corner posts. Use your level, it’s crucial that these be completely straight before they've been secured. Next, install J-channel around all exterior windows and doors, remembering to allow some room for movement.

Finally, you can begin installing siding! Make sure that proper insulation is in place, as this is an important piece to keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. 

Again, when installing the vinyl siding, do be sure to leave room for the possibility of it expanding. Make sure to hook the bottom lip of each panel underneath the starting strip. The vinyl siding should be secured in place using nails, centring in the slot and leaving room for movement. If there are adjoining panels, these should be overlapped. Finish by installing siding around windows, as panels may need to be cut specifically to fit into place. Then, install the top row of siding. The top edge will need to be slide under the sill-trim. Voila! You should have a brand new exterior to draw in admirers near and far. 

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