How to Install Siding

Rob Reed | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

The two ways to install vinyl siding on your home are to hire a contractor or to do the work yourself. Because each choice has its own advantages and disadvantages here are tips to help you decide the best way to complete your siding installation.

Hiring a vinyl siding contractor

The easiest way to get the job done is to hire a contractor. In exchange for paying extra for the contactor's time, labor, and expertise, you are relieved of most of the responsibilities of the project. The contractor will typically pull the permits, transport the materials, arrange for an on-site dumpster, install the siding, and clean up the site when the project is completed. A contractor will also have the required tools and knowledge needed to ensure a quality job. The downside is cost. You will pay more for someone else to do the work than if you do it yourself.

Doing the installation yourself

While installing vinyl siding is not overly difficult, it does require some basic DIY skills and careful attention to detail. Before you decide to do the work yourself you need to make sure you understand both the general concepts and the specific techniques required to do it right. Improperly installed vinyl siding can buckle, distort, or be damaged by the wind. In addition to general tools such as a rotary saw, utility knife, chalk line and hammer, you'll also need some specialized tools including a zip lock tool, nail hole slot punch and snap lock punch. You may also want an assistant or two to hold the siding in position as you attach it.

Installation tips

  1. It's important to remember that vinyl siding panels are designed to hang loose to allow them to expand or contract in different temperatures. For this reason you must make sure the panels can move freely from side to side and that you do not force them up or down while fastening them into position.
  2. Make sure to use only corrosion-resistant fasteners. Hammer the nails (or other fasteners) in the center of the nailing slot. You'll want the fasteners to be straight and level and to penetrate at least ¾-inch into the solid surface below. Allow at least 1/32-inch clearance between the nail head and the siding panel so the panels can move freely back and forth.
  3. Do not ever nail or staple through the panels, as this will cause ripples as the siding expands and contracts.
  4. Always start in the center of the panel and work towards the ends. The fasteners should be no more then 16 inches apart for horizontal panels and 12 inches apart for vertical panels. For vertical panels and corner posts place the first fastener at the top of the uppermost slot to hold the panel in position.
  5. Use the nail hole slot punch to extend a nail slot whenever the existing nail slot does not allow you to center or secure the panel to a nailable surface.

Whether you decide to hire a contractor or do the work yourself, installing new vinyl siding will improve the look of your home at an affordable cost.