How do I Install Vinyl Siding?

Michael Straessle

The first thing you need to do before you install vinyl siding is to prepare the exterior walls. If they are covered with anything other than wood, it will need to be removed. When you install the vinyl siding, it has to be nailed into something solid, preferably some sort of wood. However, it is still a good idea to cover the exterior of the house with insulation. Fortunately, this insulation comes in lengths of fifty feet and its width of only four feet makes it easy to install.

Vinyl siding must be nailed to something solid.
Vinyl siding must be nailed to something solid.

Once this is done, it is time to determine where to begin to install vinyl siding to your house. The best way of doing this is to get a site level and a rod. Place the site level on a tripod and level it using the bubble on top. Have someone stand next to the house at one of the corners with the rod, pull the cross hairs to the lowest point of the exterior wall, and make a mark and drive in a nail. Swivel the site level to the other corner of the house. Mark where the cross hairs in the level hit the wall and drive a nail in there. Tie a string on one of the nails and stretch it across the wall to the other nail; this will give you your starting point.

Vinyl siding expands and contracts with the weather.
Vinyl siding expands and contracts with the weather.

Before installing the first row, you will need to secure a starting strip to the wall on the level line you just created. The bottom of the first row of siding will lock into this strip. Along with this, install “J” trim around the windows, doors and along the soffit. When installing the trim around doors and windows, miter the top corners and let the top piece overlap the vertical piece to keep rain water from running behind the siding. Another piece of trim to install is the outside corner. Use galvanized roofing nails and do not drive the nail all the way to the siding because vinyl siding expands and contracts with the weather. Stopping the nail short of the siding enables it to move without damaging it. With the starter strip in place, you are ready to begin measuring and cutting to install vinyl siding to the exterior of the house.

Vinyl siding cuts easily so a good pair tin snips will do the trick nicely. Using a smaller pair for the trim pieces will give you a more precise cut. When measuring and cutting the vinyl siding, always stop short of the length by at least ¼-inch. Be certain that all the cuts that you make slip into the “J” channel enough to hide the cut. When the end cut is at the “J” channel of a window or door, cut the siding where the nailing strip meets the siding so it will slide behind the “J” channel, holding it in place.

The final steps to install vinyl siding is the soffit and fascia. The siding material for the soffit is different from what is applied to the walls, sits in a “J” channel at the top of the wall, and is tacked to the bottom edge of the wooden fascia with trim nails. The final application to install vinyl siding is the fascia. Trim nails that are the same color as the siding are used to finish up the project.

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