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Install Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is relatively easy to install yourself. The most common problem with a poor installation is buckling of the siding, which is caused by not allowing space for expansion, and nailing your siding too tight to the wall. We’ll give you tips how to avoid this problem.

Before you begin, here is a little info about the materials you will need:

J channel: These are long strips shaped like a J that are used as finishing pieces around doors, windows, outlets, and under the soffit. The siding fits into the inverted J, which covers rough edges.

Corner Pieces: These are also finishing pieces, but they wrap around a corner and receive the unfinished edges of the cut siding much like the J channel does.

Starting strips are pieces of metal placed at the bottom of the wall. The first course of the siding snaps into place on this strip, so it is very important that this piece is absolutely level.

This installation is for a home with aluminum soffits and facia already in place.

1. Begin by nailing the J channel around all windows, doors, and under the soffit of the roof. Use 1½” aluminum roofing nails spaced 16” on center, nailing on the wall studs. J channel does not need to be overlapped, it can be mounted flush against the next piece. When covering windows and door frames, the piece of J channel over the top should fit ½” over the edge on either side to allow the side pieces of J channel to butt up against it. The side pieces should extend ½” below the window so the bottom piece can butt up against it. The J channel on the bottom of a window will be exactly the width of the window.

2. Corner pieces are hollow and flexible and must be installed on a vertical level. The flexibility of the corner piece is to allow for some room if the corner of your home is not exactly square. Place the corner piece on the outside corner and mark a vertical level line with a chalk line as a guideline. Be sure the line is level on both sides of the corner. Nail the piece in place, beginning at the top. Use snips to cut back the flange where it abuts the soffit trim. The top 2 nails on either side of the corner are placed at the top edge and are set tightly. These nails lock the corner piece is place so that it expands downward and not into the soffit. Continue nailing at 12” spaces down the length of the corner piece. It is important not to set the nails too tight to allow for expansion. The nailheads should be set about 1/16” off the wall so the vinyl can move freely.

3. Set the starter strip. The horizontal measure of the strip should be about 1” from the nailed edge of your corner piece. You must determine where to place this strip by measuring the width of your siding and factoring how many courses you need to reach the soffits. Vinyl siding comes in 8, 9, or 10” clapboards. The starter strip can hang below the wall a few inches or be placed at the bottom of the wall, depending how much room you need. When determining this measurement from top to bottom, keep in mind the very top panel of siding will have it’s nail edge cut off so it can be glued under the J channel to finish. Mark a level chalkline and nail the strip with your roofing nails. It is extremely important that this strip is exactly level or you will slowly be off as you attach your courses of siding.

4. Before you begin, it is important to remember siding must be overlapped to allow for expansion and contraction. Overlap your siding about ½”, so when measuring be sure to allow for the overlap. Also, the siding should be hung slightly short of the width of the wall to prevent buckling from expansion. The amount of expansion space is determined by the outside temperature at the time of installation. If the temperature is about 90 degrees F., hang the siding panel Ό” short on each end of the wall to allow for expansion. Below 30 degrees F., an expansion space of at least ½” on each end is necessary; and for temperatures in between, allow 3/8” on each end. The siding panels have notched nailing hems to allow for overlap. In some cases, you may come to a piece you have cut yourself that has no nailing hem. You will have to notch out a hem yourself to allow for overlap. An important point to remember when overlapping is to stagger your joints. Avoid uniform stair step patterns. These patterns actually draw your eye to them instead of being inconspicuous.

5. Measure your first panel of siding allowing for overlap.

6. Snap the first course of your siding into the bottom of the starter strip. The bottom of the siding has a lip that fits up into the starter strip. You will actually hear it snap into place. Start the first panel of each course at the end opposite the most common viewing point so subsequent overlaps face away. DO NOT NAIL THE SIDING TO THE WALL TIGHTLY. Siding is hung, not nailed. Allow a 1/16” space between the nail head and the wall to allow the siding to move and expand freely. Nails imbedded too tightly will cause your siding to buckle as the weather changes.

7. Check your first course of siding for to make sure it is level. This sets the course for your entire wall.

8. The bottom of your siding has a lip that snaps into the previous piece. Measure your piece and snap the next course in place. Be sure the panel is secured to the previous piece along the whole length. Nail loosely and make sure it is level. Continue till you reach the top of the wall. Be sure and check often with your level. You can cheat a little if you are off with each panel, but if you wait too long, you will never be able to get the panel level.

9. The last piece below the soffit fits under the J channel, but you must cut off the nailing part of the panel to insert it. Use a caulking gun to glue the upper edge of the panel to the wall.


Home Tips &
Related Articles

Vinyl Installation Tools
Ladders, measuring tape, snips, radial arm saw with special blade for cutting vinyl (check at your home store), level, chalk line tool, hammer, 1½” aluminum roofing nails, caulking gun, industrial adhesive (Liquid Nails)
Vinyl History
Plasticized PVC or vinyl was invented in 1926 by Waldo Lonsbury Semon.

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