How To Repair Siding

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Many homeowners choose vinyl siding as an exterior finish because it's an attractive and budget-friendly material that requires very little maintenance while on their home. However, if you purchased a vinyl-sided house, one of the product's great characteristics that you may not be aware of is how DIY-friendly the material can be. The same qualities that make it a great product for a DIY-house installation allow it to be easily repaired once it's on your home.

How to repair siding just like an expert

You may not have all the specialized tools that many siding contractors carry on their trucks, but that doesn't mean you can't do vinyl repairs just like a professional. Most siding repairs can be taken care of with a hammer and a vinyl siding tool, but on occasion tin snips, a utility knife, and a power saw can come in handy. If you don't have a vinyl siding tool, a flat-headed screwdriver can often serve as a capable substitute. Vinyl siding is normally very low maintenance and in many cases any repairs required are related to either a poor initial installation or a problem behind the siding. Two of the most common repairs you may encounter are wavy siding and attempting to locate a water leak.

DIY siding repair for wavy panels

When you sight down a long run of vinyl siding, it's not unusual to see slight buckles in the panels as they conform to the framing and sheathing behind them. This is a characteristic of vinyl siding that's less noticeable with heavier gauge vinyl or when insulation is behind the panels. However, if the buckling is excessive and easily noticed when standing directly in front of the siding, there's a good chance the panels were nailed too tightly when installed. Vinyl expands and contracts with temperature changes and the siding must be allowed to move or it may buckle. The oversized nailing slots in the panels allow movement unless the nails securing the siding to the framing are hammered tight. If panels on your home have this condition, try this vinyl repair:

  1. Use your vinyl siding tool or screwdriver to unsnap the problem panels from the siding above
  2. When the top panel has been unsnapped, you should have access to the nails that secure the problem panels--loosen any tight nails slightly
  3. Any nails at the extreme edges of the nailing slots should be centered if you can hit framing in the new location
  4. If the problem panel has an end that terminates at a corner post or J channel, you may need to slightly trim that end to allow movement
  5. Snap all loose panels back together

This vinyl repair should take care of any excess buckling, but when temperatures get high, check any trimmed ends for additional adjustments.

DIY vinyl repair for water leaks

Many homeowners think their vinyl siding is designed to be waterproof, but that is not the case. Vinyl siding is just like brick and other siding materials in that it is installed to allow any water that gets behind the siding to escape. If you're having a water intrusion problem on the side of your home, in most cases there is a defect in your sheathing, moisture barrier, or flashing behind your siding. The only way to find the entry point is by removing vinyl panels.

  1. Unsnap the panels to be removed from the adjacent pieces with your vinyl siding tool or screwdriver
  2. Remove the exposed nails and each piece of siding should come off
  3. Check for your water leak location--flashing above doors and windows are prime spots for water problems
  4. Use a water hose to ensure the leak has been repaired
  5. Reinstall the siding, taking care not to nail too tightly

High winds can also loosen siding that was improperly installed. Vinyl panels can be reattached in the same fashion as after a water leak has been repaired.