Vinyl Siding Installation: The Ultimate DIY Guide For 2021
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Vinyl Siding Installation: The Ultimate DIY Guide For 2021

Posted by Northface Construction

We’ve talked about how to repair your broken vinyl siding, but what about vinyl siding installation? It’s pretty straightforward, and if you can repair your siding, you can replace it. So whether you are a DIY homeowner or a contractor looking to boost your skills, we’ll walk you through the basics of vinyl installation to get it done right the first time.

diy installation of vinyl siding

The Benefits of Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding continues to be the most common type of siding in North America, and for a good reason. This durable material comes with a long life expectancy that makes it an ideal option for homeownership or rental property owners who are looking for something that fits in their budget without sacrificing quality. And vinyl siding can be even more affordable when you do it yourself. First, let’s go over the benefits of installing this homeowner favorite.

In addition to being affordable, vinyl also offers protection against extreme temperatures and punctures from hail storms and won’t warp or rot. Plus, this lightweight material is easy to install and doesn’t need any specialized tools or equipment. These are just a few of the many benefits of vinyl siding that also include:

Tools & Materials You’ll Need to Get Started

There are some basic tools and materials you’ll need to get the job done and finish installing vinyl siding. Luckily vinyl is one of the least complex sidings to install. If you have the following tools on hand, you should be in good shape.

Man with tool belt in a workshop

Materials

Most siding systems will come with every single thing you need, but just in case, here’s an itemized list of everything you’ll need to install your new siding.

Tools

How to Safely Remove Siding

Luckily, removing vinyl siding is very easy, but you still want to heed with caution not to damage anything underneath. In fact, unscathed vinyl siding can often be removed and reused if it’s done right.

Vinyl is installed by basically clipping it in place along its trim pieces, or channels, that secure the vinyl siding in place while also concealing the nails. And because vinyl is installed from bottom to top, to remove it, you do the opposite, starting from top to bottom.

You can start by gently prying up the top piece of vinyl where it overlaps the one below it. This will unhook it from the channel, which you can slide off and expose the nails underneath. Next, remove each nail carefully using a nail puller or hammer and repeat this piece by piece all the way down. You can then remove all of the trim pieces that remain around windows and doors unless you reuse them for your new siding.

Installing Vinyl Siding (Step-by-Step)

Now that you’ve removed your old siding, it’s time to install the new stuff! There are quite a few steps to cover for proper vinyl siding installation, but it can be less depending on whether or not you’re reusing your trim pieces.

The installation process for vinyl siding can be broken up into a few different sections. You will first tackle the soffit and fascia, where you will install your channels to connect the siding to. Then you’ll install the channels on the walls, cut around obstructions, frame the windows and doors, and finally install all of the siding from the bottom up. We’ll go through each step in detail below.

Soffit and Fascia

Even though the rows of siding are installed from the bottom to the top, we are starting at the top when it comes to installing your j-channel. The j-channel, to reiterate, is what will nail into the house itself and hold your siding pieces in place. NOTE: An easy way to remember soffit vs. fascia is the sOffit is on the bOttom, and the FASCia is like the FACE (facing forward on the house).

  1. Put your j-channel up to your soffit, pressing it tight against the inner edge of the fascia board (the end farthest from the house on your soffit). Next, nail the j-channel onto your soffit by placing the nail in the center of each slot: this allows room for expansion during temperature shifts. Don’t nail them too tight.
  2. Some style roofs have a soffit that wraps around the corner of the house, in which case you’ll need to install two j-channels back to back, going from the corner of your house to the corner of the roof. This is necessary because you want to ensure the siding is solidly in place, where it must change direction. This step will require extra cutting of both the siding pieces and j-channels to ensure a good fit.
  3. It will be easiest to custom fit smaller pieces for the corner and adhere them to the angled j-channels. Then, you can cut the lengthwise pieces of siding to go the rest of the way.
  4. With the soffit installed, you can move on to the fascia. First, remove your gutters if necessary and slide in the fascia cover so it secures tightly under your gutter apron. Next, carefully nail the top of the fascia in with galvanized nails every 2-3 feet. These fascia fittings should fit most standard homes, but if not, you can customize the flexible material to fit pretty easily (or call the pros).
  5. Replace the gutters and move on to the next step.

man fixing vinyl siding

Walls

The first thing you want to do to prep your exterior walls is to remove or loosen any lights, address plates, railings, and other exterior features that attach to the house where you’ll need to install the siding.

  1. Measure the height, length, and width of your exterior walls. Siding will come in pre-cut pieces that may or may not fit in one piece. Your starter pieces will be easy because they can go just about anywhere, but you will want to consider where and how many cuts you’ll want to make. The fewer visible seams, the better it will look. The same goes for where to install the first row on the bottom. It’s better to have two larger-sized siding rows than one sliver up at the top that you can prevent.
  2. Install your starter strip where you have determined will give the best fit. You will want to mark this along the entire house (every wall you are installing siding), so it is even everywhere. Then, install a piece of plywood underneath the starter strip to hold up your bottom siding. Since it won’t be overlapping on another piece, it won’t be lifted like the rest. This will prevent it from lying flat against the house.
  3. Nail down rigid foam sheathing (about 1/2 inch thick) to every corner, and then nail your corner trim pieces over that. This will allow it to line up perfectly with your new rows of siding.
  4. Continue nailing down sheathing for the first few feet of your walls to prep for installation. These make for a nice flat surface and add more insulation to your home.
  5. Time to install your first row! Snap your first piece in place under the starter strip and nail it down every 15-18 inches, again in the center of the slots to make room for expansion like you did up on the soffit.
  6. Continue overlapping each length of siding by about an inch over the one before it and nail down in place. Keep in mind how you want to see the seams for each angle of your house. i.e., if you are looking at the side of your house from the front, overlapping from right to left will ensure the seams are less visible at first glance because they flow from front to back.

Customizations & Obstructions

There are a few things that you must navigate around when installing your siding. Decks, for example, would require you to install two starter strips. One on the bottom of the house, and again one just above where your deck boards are installed.

  1. When installing around a deck, do the same method as you did on your first starter strip, just twice to navigate around it.
  2. For faucets or utility boxes, try first to remove any coverings or other obstructions so you can get a closer fit with your new siding. Yes, you will have to custom cut and install smaller pieces of trim to fit around each exterior obstruction. This ensures the siding stays in place and keeps a tight seal.
  3. For a tighter seal around permanent utility boxes/obstructions, you will need to create a drip edge and then caulk around the device to ensure it stays water and air-tight.

Windows and Doors

A worker installs vinyl panels beige siding on the outside of house

When installing channels around any windows and doors, you will have to use some of your craftsmanship skills to get them to fit nice and snug. You will also need to trim back any existing caulk that will prevent your channels from lying flat against the window trim.

  1. When you frame a window to prep for your siding, you will want to cut your channels about 2 inches longer than the window. This is so you can make a small snip and bend one of the pieces to create a drip edge that will overlap the sill channel on the bottom. Once the side and bottom pieces are flush against the window trim, nail in place, but not too tight.
  2. When installing the top channel, cut that 2 inches longer, creating that drip edge to overlap the two side channels. Nail it in place.
  3. Install the insulation backing near your newly nailed down channels and install your siding like normal. Slide it into place from the bottom to top and then use utility trim to finalize the installation around the windows.

Final Steps

Finally, when you meet the soffit at the top, you need to do a few things to ensure a flush fit.

  1. As you get close to the top, nail down some utility trim to the wall just below the soffit.
  2. Install the second to last row and then appropriately measure and cut your last piece of siding to fit.
  3. There are two ways to secure the top siding length to the end. 1 is to nail in nails that match the color of your siding. 2 is to use aluminum clips that fasten your siding to the soffit edge on the top. This is often a preferred method by professionals.

With all of your siding pieces in place, with their utility trim in place, and everything looking clean: it’s time to enjoy your brand new siding. However, if you’re a DIY homeowner, and you read through these steps (which were very simplified), and it didn’t make sense to you, then it’s a good idea to hire a contractor instead.

Northface Construction has a team dedicated to installing only the best siding. Although we do install vinyl siding, among other types, we are also a Gold level certified installer for LP Smartside siding, an engineered wood siding. Contact us today to get started on your siding install!

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