How can I Install Siding?

Carol Francois

Many people install siding to the building exterior to protect the building from the elements. Siding is available in vinyl, wood, steel and aluminum, with the most popular material being vinyl. Vinyl siding is created from polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Vinyl siding requires very little maintenance, is pre-colored and requires no painting. The material comes in horizontal planks and can be designed to have the appearance of wood.

Siding helps protect the exterior of a building from the elements.
Siding helps protect the exterior of a building from the elements.

If you plan to install siding, it is important to properly estimate the total cost and amount of time required in advance. Although there are many contractors who can be hired to install siding, it is not a very complicated job. Siding is easy to install, simple to work with and has the ability to hide multiple mistakes.

Vinyl siding comes in horizontal planks.
Vinyl siding comes in horizontal planks.

The first step to complete when you plan to install siding is to estimate the amount of siding required. Measure the perimeter of the house and the height of the siding you want to install. Multiply these two values together to obtain the gross amount of siding you will require.

Measure the width and height of each door and window located in the area where you want to install siding. Calculate the area of each opening by multiplying the width by the height. Add all these values together and subtract the total from the gross amount of siding to obtain the amount of siding you will need to purchase.

Before you install siding, go around the perimeter of the house and secure all shrubs and trees away from the house. Take down any downspouts or lights attached to the house. Remove the old caulking between the old siding and any openings. Locate the lowest corner of the home using a line level and mason's line. Make a chalk line on the building to indicate a straight, vertical line, and repeat this process around the entire perimeter of the building.

Using the chalk lines as a guide, nail the starter strips on the bottom of the building. Be sure to leave a ¼” (0.6 cm) gap where two pieces meet each other. Leave the same size gap at all eaves, inside and outside corner posts.

The next step is to install the j-channel pieces of siding on the sides and tops of all openings. These pieces are designed to fit into the starter strips. Nail down the j-channel pieces to secure it to the building.

Going around the perimeter of the building, nail down trim underneath all the windows and eaves. Take the time to check the quality of the work done to this point. Add more nails and correct the work where required. Investing the time now substantially improves the quality of the result while reducing the time required for the next stage.

Now the building is prepared for you to install siding. Begin at the starter strip and install the siding panels. Be sure to stagger the joints every four feet (1.22 m) for a more visually appealing final result.

When installing the panels, remember that they must overlap. Check the instructions provided with the siding to determine the actual distance of overlap required. Stop and review the installation progress after every five panels to ensure they are level and in line with the panels above.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


1/4" coverage on each side is not enough by itself. If you add caulking to both the gap under the strip and the sides of each strip, it should be OK.


What about narrow horizontal spaces between corners & doors, windows & doors, etc. I have spaces about 6" wide. The corrugated metal does not flex at all when in narrow strips, and my J-channel does not have much outside overlap for horizontal coverage... is a 1/4" of J-metal overlap on each side enough?

Post your comments
Forgot password?