When it comes to increasing value and curb appeal, replacing outdated, unattractive siding can go a long way in improving your home. Not only that, new siding will make your home much more energy efficient, as well.

Based on a recent report, Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value, replacing home siding consistently ranks as one of the top home improvement projects for adding value to your home and showing a direct return on investment. So, it seems like a great project to take on, right?

Not so fast – from removing old siding, getting the right permits and purchasing materials at optimal prices – there’s a lot to consider before beginning a DIY siding project.

If you’re trying to refresh your home with new siding, here are a few pros and cons to determine whether or not you can take on the challenge of installation yourself, or if you should reach out for professional help, instead.

First Consideration: Are You an Experienced DIYer?

The first thing to take into account is the level of experience you have fixing your own stuff. If you have experience replacing old siding with new siding, then you probably have enough skill to take this project on by yourself.

Second Consideration: Do You Have Enough Manpower?

While an experienced DIYer could take on a small siding project fairly easily, but it’s a different game when you take into account the size and requirements of the proposed project. If you need to make a few minor repairs to siding, that should be easy enough. However, if you need to replace the entirety of your exterior home siding, taking it on yourself may not be feasible. You may need to reach out to some friends for help.

Third Consideration: Do You Have the Time and Budget to Hire a Professional?

A DIY job will almost always save you money (note: if you’re inexperienced, you could end up paying more for mistakes made), but will also take more time to complete. If you think you can get a full siding system replaced over a long weekend, you may be in for a surprise. It can take professionals a few weeks to complete re-siding a home, depending upon its size and weather conditions, so it will most likely take you longer than that. Consider the cost/benefit to your time. While it may cost a little more to hire a team of a professional siding team, the time you save may be worth it.

Now, let’s compare the pros and cons that go into both DIY and hiring a professional siding contractor for your project to understand the impact that each has.

Siding Installation is Not for Beginners: Choosing the DIY Route

If you don’t have any experience with installing siding on a house, it’s probably best that you reach out to a trained contractor for the job. While it looks relatively straightforward, installing siding isn’t a job for beginner DIYers. It’s one thing to install siding on an open face on the exterior of your home, but when it comes to working around corners, eaves, soffits and fascia, along with trimming openings like windows and doors, it gets more tricky. These are all technical aspects of the project that can be easy for a beginner to screw up, adding cost and time to your project.

When choosing to take on the siding installation by yourself, you need to have working knowledge of siding systems – for example, do you understand how to identify mold, water or pest damage on your home and repair it? Or how to attach frieze board and sheathing for putting the siding up on the exterior? Or, simply how to remove old, worn-out siding and install the new material based on its unique installation method?

When taking on a siding installation project by yourself, you need to have the skills as well as access to the right tools to be successful. Depending on which siding material you choose, you may need a combination of a few or all of the following tools:

Commonly used tools for new siding installation:

  • Hammer – always have a trusty hammer by your side during a siding installation, you’ll use it for a variety of tasks.
  • Measuring square – this keeps all of your angles straight and true for an even installation.
  • Level – a level is extremely important to keep your siding even. If unevenness occurs, it can spell major problems later on in your project.
  • Fine-toothed hand saw – especially important for vinyl, a fine-tooth saw will reduce the chance of tearing or splintering the siding
  • Power saw – a circular, bench or radial-arm saw are your best options. A power saw helps speed up the cutting process and produces cleaner cuts.
  • Power drill – a drill will come in handy for a number of different tasks throughout the project.
  • Tin snips – tin snips will help you cut and shape siding for specific areas of the home.
  • Snap lock punch – these are used to punch lugs or holes in the cut edges of siding to be used for the finishing course at the top of a wall, or underneath a window.
  • Nail hole slot punch – you may need to elongate a nail hem slot, which is where a nail hole slot punch comes in handy. The hole is elongated to allow for expansion and contraction.
  • Unlocking tool – this special tool allows for the removal or replacement a siding panel without the risk of damaging the material.
  • Fasteners – the type of fasteners you choose are almost as crucial as the tools.  It is important that all fasteners be able to penetrate no less than 3/4” into framing or furring and always nail in the center of the slot to allow for slight movement during the natural expansion and contraction of the panel.
  • Safety equipment – scaffolding, a sturdy ladder, gloves, protective eye glasses and other safety equipment is essential for protecting yourself from the dangers of the job.

So if you have the skills, the tools – and most importantly, the motivation – you could take on a siding project by yourself. Just weigh the following pros and cons to help determine your decision.

Pros of DIY Siding Installation

  • Best option for experienced DIYers who want to perform quick and easy repairs, replacements or repainting for smaller sections of the home’s exterior.
  • Save money on doing it yourself, unless you drastically mess something up.
  • Work on your own time schedule, with no annoying construction crews or material deliveries.
  • Don’t have to rely on other people, only yourself.
  • You gain a lot of satisfaction by taking on and completing a siding project on your own.

Cons of DIY Siding Installation

  • With little knowledge or experience, you can end up paying more for mistakes, or hit a wall and end up hiring a professional anyways.
  • You need quite a few special tools for cutting, fitting and installing siding, as well as safety equipment for working at height.
  • Working knowledge of the specific type of material you’re using – vinyl siding is installed differently than wood, metal, etc.
  • You must purchase all materials on your own and won’t receive a supplier’s discount.
  • You could uncover more damage to your house once you begin the project, and not know how to identify or fix it.
  • Mistakes are easier to make than they are to fix.

Choosing to Hire and Work With a Professional Siding Contractor

When it comes to installing exterior home siding, there’s a ton of things that go into the process. From finding the proper tools, the best materials at fair prices, as well as understanding the finer details that come from experience, a professional will know what to do. Before deciding on a contractor, first do some research and determine your ideal material and method of installation. The more detailed you can be, the more accurate estimate you’ll receive from potential candidates

Use sites like Houzz, Angie’s List, Yelp and social media to read reviews, find examples of past work and understand their specialties. Once you find some certified local contractors with solid reputations, reach out to at least three of them. While hiring a professional is safer than doing it yourself, your project can quickly turn ugly if you don’t do your due diligence in finding the best siding contractor for your needs.

So if you don’t have the skills, tools and motivation, you can always reach out for professional help. Just weigh the following pros and cons to help decide whether or not hiring a professional siding contractor is the right choice.

Pros of Hiring a Professional Siding Contractor

  • Gain peace of mind with a professional who has insurance, licenses, certificates and bonds that will protect you in the case of an emergency.
  • A good contractor should have a singular point of contact for you to ask questions so you can stay informed throughout the process.
  • Warrantied work provides you backup should the work suffer.
  • Full service from preparation to cleanup
  • Set schedule and budget regarding to your terms and contractor’s availability
  • A professional will obtain necessary permits and abide by building codes

Cons of Hiring a Professional Siding Contractor

  • High labor costs that can rise should extra work need to be added.
  • Availability can be unpredictable.
  • In the case of an unprofessional contractor you may have to dismiss them.

Best of Luck with your Siding Installation Project!

Whether you choose to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, a siding project is an investment that will add value and beauty to any home. Just remember that repairing and replacing siding can be a challenging job, not for the faint of heart! Whether you’re just replacing a few strips of vinyl, removing rotten shingles or installing all new fiber cement siding, if you want it done quickly, affordably and correctly, a professional may be your best choice. 

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