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Install Vinyl Siding

If you're looking to improve the look of your home without the painting, vinyl siding is a popular, affordable choice. Many homeowners and builders choose it because it's long lasting, durable, inexpensive and relatively easy to install and maintain. Vinyl comes in a variety of grains, thickness and colors making it also a practical choice for many homeowners.

install vinyl siding

Tools & Materials


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Before You Begin: Vinyl Siding Installation Tips

Vinyl Siding Installation Tips

1. Allow for expansion and contraction. Vinyl siding must be nailed so expansion and contraction are not restricted. Siding must be cut in lengths to provide for expansion. Allow a 1/4 in. gap for expansion wherever siding butts accessories. Allow 3/8 in. when installing in freezing weather (below 40°).

2. Choose the right nails. Nails should be corrosion-resistant galvanized, stainless steel or aluminum roofing type nails with a head diameter of 3/8 in. The nail shank diameter should be 1/8 in. and long enough to penetrate into nailable base at least 3/4 in.

3. DO NOT drive nails tight. Allow approximately 1/16 in. between nail head and vinyl. This will permit expansion and contraction as well as prevent dimpling, which causes waves in siding. [fig. A]

4. Center nails in slots. Do not nail to the extreme right or left of nail slot in siding panel. [fig. B]

5. Drive nails straight and level. Crooked nails will distort siding panels, causing panels to buckle. [fig. C]

6. DO NOT face nail. Nailing directly into siding panel will restrict horizontal movement and cause panel to buckle.

7. Never pull siding taut when nailing. Pulling the panel taut stretches the panel out of shape and causes an undesirable lap joint. Panels should be locked pushed up from the bottom until full lock contact is made and then nailed into place.

8. Space nails properly. Siding panels should be nailed 12 in. to 16 in. on center.

Vinyl Siding Cutting Methods

1. Aviation and Tin Snip

Start cutting at the top interlock and continue toward the bottom of the panel.

2. Utility Knife

Score panel with knife, then bend the vinyl back and forth until it snaps cleanly on the scored line.

3. Power Saw, Bench or Radial Arm Saw

Use a fine-tooth blade with slow cutting movements. Reverse the blade in the saw for extra-smooth cutting through the vinyl and to reduce chipping.

Surface Preparation for Vinyl Siding Installation

  1. Securely nail all loose boards and wood trim, and replace any rotted boards.
  2. Scrape away old caulking around windows and doors. The build-up of old caulking interferes with the positioning of new trim for the siding.
  3. Remove downspouts, lighting fixtures and mouldings where they will interfere with the siding installation.
  4. Window sill extension may be cut off, so new trim can be installed flush with the window casing.
  5. Tie back shrubbery and trees where they are close to the wall. This will give you more room to work. It will also avoid damage to the landscaping.


In new construction furring is not usually necessary, but older homes often have walls that are uneven. These walls should be furred out to prevent a wavy appearance in the finished siding job.

Over Wood Sub-surface
Lath strips are the most commonly used furring over a wood surface.

Over Masonry Sub-surface
1 in. x 3 in. wood strips are installed with masonry nails over the masonry area to be sided.

Horizontal Siding
Strips should be installed vertically on 12 in. to 16 in. centers. Furring should be installed completely around doors, windows and other openings, at all corners, and at the top and bottom of the area to be sided.

Vertical Siding
Furring is essentially the same as for horizontal siding. Strips should be nailed horizontally to structural lumber, etc., on 12 in. to 16 in. centers.

Furred Existing Siding
Furred existing siding hould be covered with insulated sheeting or the spaces between the furring strips should be filled in with insulated sheeting equal in thickness to the furring strips. This will provide an even wall surface for the siding and help avoid any waviness.

Insulation for Vinyl Siding

Insulation Installation for Vinyl Siding

House wrap or sheathing insulation board that helps insulate and level out the exterior of a house is recommended.

Some manufacturers strongly recommend against the use of drop-in type foam or fiberboard behind its vinyl siding. This type of insulation may change and flatten the specialty built-in contour of the panel, causing the siding to bulge or ripple.

1. Snap chalk line.
Find the lowest corner of the old siding or sheathing on the house. Partly drive a nail 11/2 in. higher than the lowest corner. Stretch a chalk line from this nail to a similar nail at next corner. Be sure line is level. Snap chalk line and repeat same procedure around entire house.

2. Installing starter strip.
Position starter strip with the top edge of chalk line and allow room for corner posts. Nail to wall, following nailing instructions in Important Installation Tips. When the wall surface is uneven, shim out the starter strip to avoid a wavy appearance in the finished siding job. Drive nails to remove excessive play in starter, but do not nail tightly restricting movement. As you add starter strip sections, be sure to leave 1/4 in. space between strips for expansion [fig. D]

3. Installing inside corner posts.
Inside corner posts are installed at the existing corners, running from 3/4 in. below the bottom of the starter strip. If vinyl soffit is to be installed, allow proper distance below the underside of eaves for soffit installation accessories (which vary according to the accessory used). Set corner posts straight and true. Nail them to the adjoining walls, beginning at the top, placing nails at the top of the uppermost nailing slots, allowing the posts to hang on these nails. The rest of the nails should be placed every 8 in. to 12 in. in the center of the nail slots. This will allow vertical expansion of the corner posts. Do not nail tight.

4. Splicing inside corner posts.
If more than one length of inside corner post is required, make a splice as follows: Cut 1 in. off all but the outer face of the upper portion of the lower corner post. Then lay 3/4 in. of the upper post over the lower post, allowing 1/4 in. for expansion [fig. E].

5. Installing outside corner posts.
Position the outside corner post to allow 1/4 in. gap at the top where the post will meet the eaves. Cut the post long enough to extend past the bottom of the starter strip by 3/4 in. If vinyl soffit is to be installed, allow proper distances (which vary according to the accessory used) below the underside of the eaves. Attach the posts by placing a nail in the top of the upper slot on each side. Posts will hang on these two nails. The rest of the nails should be placed in the center of the slots, 8 in. to 12 in. on center. This allows for expansion and contraction to occur at the bottom. Do not nail tight.

6. Splicing outside corner posts.
If more than one length of outside corner post is required, make a splice as follows: cut 1 in. of the nailing flanges and receiving channel stops away from the bottom portion of the upper post. Then lap 3/4 in. of the upper post over the lower post allowing 1/4 in. for expansion [fig. F].

7. Capping outside corner posts.
Cut 2 1/2 in. flaps as shown in Fig. G. Bend the flaps to close off the post. A rivet can be used if needed.

8. Installing “J” channel around windows and doors.
Install “J” channel around all four sides of window and doors. Install the “J” channel against the casing and nail it to the wall, following nailing instructions in Important Installation Tips. Do not nail tight. [fig. H].

9. Square corner “J” channel installation.
Cut and install bottom “J” flush with the sides of the window casing. Install side “J” channels flush with the lower face of the bottom “J” channel and with the top of the window casing. Cut a tab in the bottom of the side “J” channels and fold under. Cut and install top “J” flush with the outer face of the side “J’s”. Cut and bend drain tab.

10. Mitering corners of the “J” channel.
Install bottom “J” channel to extend past side casing the width of the “J”-face on each end. Cut out a 3/4 in. notch in the back of each end and install. Cut a 3/4 in. notch in the bottom of side “J” channels and bend tab. Miter bottom side “J” to give a false mitered appearance when installed.

11. Installing first siding panel.
Snap bottom of panel into starter strip and nail to wall as in Important Installation Tips. Begin panel installation at back corner of house and work toward house front. Leave a 1/4 in. space where panel butts corner post. Note: siding should be lapped away from high traffic areas, i.e., doors, sidewalks, etc.

12. Overlap joints.
Overlap each panel 1 in. to 11/4 in. of the factory prenotched cutouts. Last nail should be at least 10 in. from end of panel to allow neat lap.

13. Installing balance of siding.
After completing the first course, work your way up. Start each course at back of house and continue toward front. Stagger joints properly, lapping them away from street and entrance. Leave a 1/4 in. gap where panels butt corner posts and “J” channel around window. Allow 3/8 in. when installing in freezing weather (below 40°) [fig. I]. Note: For best visual appearance, do not stair step or concentrate lap joints too closely.

14. Fitting siding under windows.
When you reach a window, you probably will have to cut siding panel to fit under the opening. Make this panel extend on both sides of the window. Measure the panel to fit. Holding the siding panel under the window, mark the width of the opening on the panel allowing 1/4 in. clearance on each window side. Next, lock a scrap piece of siding into the panel below, butting against the window. Mark the height needed, allowing 1/4 in. clearance below the sill. Measure both sides of the window opening this way. Use the scrap piece as a guide to mark horizontal cuts on the siding panel [fig. J].

15. Cutting siding to fit.
Make vertical cuts on the siding panel with saw or snips. Then score horizontally with a utility knife and snap out section to be removed.

16. Cutting siding around window.
Install undersill trim the width of the window flush to the casing. Furring may be necessary to maintain proper pitch of the siding. Using the snap-lock punch, punch the panel 1/4 in. below the cut edge at 6 in. intervals. The resulting raised lugs should face outward and will snap into undersill trim.

17. Fitting siding over windows.
Measure and cut panel to fit. Measure and cut panel in the same manner detailed in step 14 but cut lower portion instead of top. Be sure to check both sides for proper fit. Install panel. Drop siding panel into “J” channel around top of window and install.

18. Finishing top row of siding under eaves.
Nail the undersill trim to the sidewall, flush with the eave of house. It may be necessary to fur out the undersill trim to maintain proper pitch of the top siding panel. More than one length of undersill trim may be required under the eave and will need to be spliced.

19. Fitting top siding panel.
Measure and cut top panel to fit. To determine how much of the top panel must be cut off, measure the distance between the top of under-sill trim and the lock of the panel below, then deduct 1/4 in. Cut top siding panel to this dimension. The panel will no longer have a nailing strip after cutting [fig. K].

20. Snap locking top panel.
Punch top panel with snap-lock punch. Insert cut panel into trim and draw a line on panel where they meet. Usingsnap-lock punch tool, punch the panel on top of this lineevery 6 in. so raised material is on the outside face.

21. Installing top panel.
Lock bottom of panel into panel below and push top edge into undersill trim. The raised slots will catch and hold the panel firmly in place. DO NOT FACE NAIL SIDING.

22. Finishing top course under gable.
First nail “J” channel to sidewall flush with gable as described in Important Installation Tips. If more than one length of “J” channel is required to finish one side of gable, a splice will be needed. To cut panels on proper angle, use two scrap pieces of siding to make a pattern for cutting. Interlock one panel with the siding panel below, hold the other piece on top against the gable. Then mark a line on bottom piece and cut. This piece is now a pattern for cutting panels to fit along one side of gable. Follow the same procedure to make pattern for other side [fig. L]. Lock pre-cut siding panel into siding panel below and slide siding panel into “J” channel.


Be sure to allow 1/4 in. expansion gap between siding and gable end “J” channel, and 3/8 in. in freezing weather.

Vinyl Soffit and Fascia Installation Guide

install vinyl soffit and fascia

Use the following instructions for vinyl soffit and fascial installation.

1. Open eave installation.
For open overhangs use “F” trim which has been nailed to the wall of the house. Using a level, make pencil marks on the wall, parallel with the lower edge of wood fascia board at the end of each wall. These are for reference points. From these marks, measure up 7/8 in. and strike a chalk line. Along this line install the “F” trim with its top leg on the chalk line. This step is very important, because the “F” trim or “J” channel forms the back support for the soffit panel. Intermediate nailing supports should be installed on eaves over 16 in. in width.

2. Closed eave installation.
Install 1/2 in. “J” channel on inside wall and behind fascia board [fig. M]. Measure distance between 1/2 in. “J” channels from back edge to back edge. Then cut soffit panels according to these dimensions to allow 1/4 in. clearance for contraction and expansion. On panels over 36 in. allow 1/4 in. on each end. Use solid panels, and for areas where ventilation is required, use perforated soffit. After cutting panels to the desired length, insert end into wall support piece (“J” channel or “F” trim). Lining the panel up correctly, nail the panel to the existing soffit through the nailing hem. After the first panel is installed, insert locking leg of second panel into the installed panel, covering the nailing hem. Fit the panels together snugly to protect against misalignment. Intermediate nailing supports are necessary on widths over 16 in.

3. Turning corners.
When turning corners it may be necessary to miter the soffit panel to the proper angle. Use two 1/2 in. “J” channels back-to-back to create additional support for the panels [fig. N].

4. Closing soffit ends.
Use 1/2 in. “J” channel cut to length and installed on the ends by nailing into overhang and fitting into “F” trim and “J” channel supporting soffit panel. In applications using both soffit and fascia, install frieze runner (“F” trim) on the bottom of fascia board and complete soffit installation. Prepare for installation of fascia panel by applying an undersill trim along the top of the fascia board. Hook the bottom lock of the fascia panel over the “F” trim, which is already installed on the bottom of the fascia board. Then insert top edge of fascia into undersill trim. Use a snap-lock punch tool on the fascia panel to punch out raised slots every 6 in. so that the fascia is held firmly in place. Cut fascia panel minus 1/8 in. For proper fit and appearance of fascia panel, “F” trim and undersill trim should be run straight to avoid waviness. It is recommended that a chalk line be used and channels installed on a straight line.

To fabricate corner cap, cut piece of fascia 51/2 in. in length. Mark vertical centerline on back cut. Cut out 90° section of bottom flange from center, leaving 45° on each side. Using hand seamer metal straightedge, fold along vertical centerline to form right-angle corner. Top edge of corner cap is punched with snap-lock punch tool. The corner cap is then hooked onto the bottom ends of the fascia, and the top is snapped into place in undersill trim [figs. O,P, Q].


Do not face-nail vinyl fascia panel.

Good to Know

These instructions are only intended to provide general installation guidelines. Check with local building codes for any additional requirements regarding wall preparation and vinyl siding installation.