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How to Install Vertical Vinyl Siding

The installation of vinyl siding that’s designed to be installed vertically on walls is handled a little differently than conventional horizontal siding at certain stages of the installation process.  Please see the articles How to Install Vinyl or Aluminum Siding and How to Prepare Walls for Vinyl or Aluminum Siding before moving on to the information below.[GARD align=”left”]

Furring strips for vertical siding are run horizontally along the wall.

Furring strips for vertical siding are run horizontally along the wall.

One significant difference during the wall preparation state is that, if you use furring strips instead of sheathing as a base, you install the furring strips horizontally across the wall as shown in the illustration here.

Installing Vertical Siding

Installing vertical siding, like horizontal siding, begins with the trim and then the corner posts. When all of those pieces have been installed, you move on to installing the panels.

 

Base Trim Strip

When installing vertical siding, you begin by running a special base trim strip along the base of the wall. The vertical siding panels sit on top of this strip. Run these strips as shown in the illustration, beginning at a corner. Hold them back 1 inch from every corner to allow for the corner posts.

Base molding holds the bottom edge of vertical vinyl siding.

Base molding holds the bottom edge of vertical vinyl siding.

Trim and overlap base molding as shown.

Trim and overlap base molding as shown.

As you install these, you’ll need to overlap two lengths end-to-end. Cut succeeding strips so they will rest on the base trim and have 1/8 inch at the top for expansion, as shown.

 

Hang corner molding from a nail as shown.

Hang corner molding from a nail as shown.

Corner Posts

Install corner posts as described in the article, How to Install Vinyl Siding Starter & Trim Strips. Hang the corner posts from a starting nail, as shown here, check for plumb, using a level, and then nail them in place.

 

J-Channel

To receive the top end of the vertical siding panels, install a J-Channel or Under-sill Trim along the top edge of the wall. For more about the various types of trim pieces available, see Vinyl Siding Buying Guide.

 

Vertical Siding Panels

Working out from the starter, insert the top of each panel into the J-channel at the top of the wall and rest the other end against the base trim. Measure to find the mid-point of each wall, and draw a plumb line down the center using a straightedge as a guide. Center the starter panel on the line, cut it 1/8 inch short to allow for expansion, and nail every 8 inches into the top of the nailing slots.[GARD align=”right”]

Lock each panel into the previous one as you go, and then drive nails into the centers of the nailing slots every 8 to 16 inches as recommended by the manufacturer. For more about attachment, see How to Nail Vinyl & Aluminum Siding. Install panels around windows and doors.

As you approach a corner post, you will install a J- or U-panel or under-sill trim in the slot on the post, whichever is recommended by the manufacturer. Shim a J-panel about 5/16 inch to keep it on the same plane as the other channels. Uncut panel edges insert into the J-panel; cut edges insert between the J-panel and the outer flange of the post.

How to Install Horizontal Vinyl Siding Panels

This article is a continuation of the discussion that began with Step 1: How to Install Vinyl and Aluminum Siding, Step 2: How to Prepare Walls for Vinyl or Aluminum Siding and Step 3: How to Install Starter Strips, Corner Posts & Trim Strips.

 

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Step 4: Installing Horizontal Siding

Now you’re ready to begin installing the actual siding panels. You’ll be working from the bottom up the wall, and if you’ve been following our sequence of articles, you’ll be starting with the first length of siding in place along the base of the wall.

 

The Second Course of Siding

With a helper, interlock the flange of the second course panesl along the top of the first panels, and nail them in place. Fasten panels with nails centered in the nailing slots, as discussed in the article How to Nail Vinyl Siding. Do not force the panels up or down when nailing them in position. Panels should not be under vertical tension or compression when nailed.

With a helper, install vinyl panels from the bottom up.

With a helper, install vinyl panels from the bottom up.

Check each course with a level and to insure proper alignment with windows, eaves, and adjacent walls. Make allowances for expansion and contraction by leaving approximately 1/4 inch at all corner posts and channels.

Overlap end joints of panels.

Overlap end joints of panels.

 

Overlap End Joints

Overlap vinyl panel ends in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations (typically 1 inch). [GARD align=”left”]Because vinyl siding moves as the temperature changes, make certain that the vinyl panels can move freely in a lateral direction. At overlaps, allow for expansion by cutting 1 1/2 inches off the nailing flange at the end of the overlapping panel. When you come to a joint, slip the backer tabs with the flat side out behind the joint, which will make the panels more stable when they span a long distance.

Plan overlaps where they’ll be the least visible, and stagger joints at least 2 feet from course to course, which will add to the siding’s stability.

 

Install Additional Courses of Siding

Install succeeding courses similarly. Stagger end laps so that one is not directly above the other, unless separated by three courses. Check every fifth or sixth course for alignment. Always overlap joints away from entrances and away from the point of greatest visibility.

 

Cut panels to fit around windows and doors.

Cut panels to fit around windows and doors.

Installing Siding Around Openings

When you come to windows and doors, trim the panel with tin snips or a power saw, leaving 1/8 inch for expansion. Use gutter-seal adhesive to affix panels directly under windowsills and at soffits. If the space is narrow, simply slip the panel into the trim on one side and nail down the other side of the trim as succeeding panels are installed.[GARD align=”right”]

Under windows, mark the section to be cut out. Cut the sides with snips, and score lengthwise with a utility knife or scoring tool. Bend the section back and forth along the scored line to separate the piece from the main panel. The cut panel is ready for installation under a window. Use undersill trim along the horizontal cut edge or support with a 1-by-2 furring strip.

Cut top panels to fit at eaves.

Cut top panels to fit at eaves.

Push the siding into the finish or under-sill trim that has been nailed in place along the top of the wall. (One-by-2 furring strips may be needed to maintain the face of the panel at the desired angle.) The raised ears will catch and hold the siding firmly in place.

Fit siding panels into channels at eaves.

Fit siding panels into channels at eaves.

 

Finishing Siding at the Eaves

To figure out how wide the panel just under the eaves should be, measure from the eaves in several places to the bottom of the top panel’s top lock. Cut the panel to fit, subtracting 1/8 inch for expansion, and then slip it into the trim.

Along the gable rake, cut panels at the necessary angle so they fit into the J- or F-channels or into the quarter-round moldings. Furring strips may be needed to allow the last panel to sit at the proper angle when applying vinyl over old, existing siding.

Finish off the final course at the top of the wall.

Finish off the final course at the top of the wall.

 

Consult the manufacturer’s application instructions for exact cutting tolerances to ensure a proper fit for the top or finishing course of siding. Cut the siding panel so that it will cover the remaining open section.

Vinyl snap lock punch for siding panels.

Vinyl snap lock punch for siding panels.

 

Using a snap-lock punch, punch the vinyl siding along the cut edge every 6 inches to 12 inches so that the raised ear or lug is on the outside face.

Get a Pre-Screened Local Vinyl Siding Contractor

Next: How to Install Vertical Vinyl Siding

How to Prepare Walls for Vinyl or Aluminum Siding

This article is a continuation of the discussion that began with Step 1: How to Install Vinyl and Aluminum Siding. Once you’ve gathered your tools and materials, you’re ready to prepare the walls for vinyl or aluminum siding and trim.

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Vinyl Siding Diagram

As shown in the diagram at right, vinyl or aluminum siding are part of a system designed to keep the weather out. Because these materials—especially vinyl—are very flexible, they need a sturdy, flat backing. Otherwise, the resulting walls will look bumpy or wavy.

As discussed in the article How to Install Vinyl and Aluminum Siding, sheathing or backerboard normally provide the necessary rigidity and surface.

In some cases, notably when the “board” width of the new siding matches the home’s existing wood lap siding, vinyl or aluminum can be installed directly over the existing material. Below, you’ll see how to prepare existing siding. Then, we’ll discuss sheathing and other methods.

Before you begin, clear the area around the house and tie back any shrubbery to allow for plenty of working room.

 

Preparing Existing Siding

Provide a sound, flat surface for installation of vinyl or aluminum siding.

Provide a sound, flat surface for installation of vinyl or aluminum siding.

If you’ll be siding over the top of older siding, here are a few important steps to take:

1) Nail down loose boards, and replace any rotten ones.

2) Scrape off loose caulk and re-caulk around windows, doors, and other areas to protect them from moisture penetration.

3) Remove all protrusions, such as gutters, downspouts, and light fixtures.

4) Seal all cracks to make the house airtight.

5) Check all walls for evenness.

 

 

 

osb vinyl siding sheathing

OSB sheathing provides a flat, solid base for vinyl siding.

 

Sheathing for Vinyl Siding

Applying weather-resistant sheathing over old siding is the fastest, easiest way to provide a flat, nailable surface for vinyl or aluminum siding installation. The tricky part can be dealing with the added thickness where siding meets windows and doors. Be sure door and window frames can be built out relatively easily before taking this approach. Otherwise, you’re better off stripping off the old siding and starting fresh with sheathing.

To obtain the best finished appearance for solid vinyl siding, use quality sheathing with no buckling or warping. The most p0pular wall sheathing material is oriented strand board (OSB)—it’s both serviceable and relatively inexpensive. Properly conditioned and fastened, exterior quality sheathing will eliminate the possibility of swelling and buckling that can occur with unstable wood.

If you’re dealing with new construction, the wall framing studs should be plumb and positioned uniformly to provide a flat surface for the sheathing. Be sure your builder uses quality, kiln-dried studs.

 

 

preparing base for vinyl siding

Over existing siding, 1-by-2 furring provides a flat base. This vertical application of furring is for horizontal siding.

Furring Out a Wall for Siding

Another way to provide a flat, nailable base for siding is to install spaced 1-by-2 strips (called “furring”) across the walls and around their perimeters. This works well on uneven or masonry surfaces. Slip small pieces of shingles (called “shims”) behind the furring strips to even out the high and low spots so the overall surface will be completely flat.

For horizontal siding, you apply the furring strips vertically. For vertical siding, you apply them horizontally. The strips also must be placed alongside all door and window frames and at building corners.

Keep the overall profile as low as possible because the alignment of the siding at doors and windows may be difficult. When you use furring, window and door frames generally have to be extended.

Next: Step 3

How to Install Vinyl Siding Starter & Trim Strips

How to Install Vinyl Siding Starter & Trim Strips

This article is a continuation of the discussion that began with Step 1: How to Install Vinyl and Aluminum Siding and Step 2: How to Prepare Walls for Vinyl or Aluminum Siding.

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Step 3: Install Starter Strips & Trim

Now you’re ready to begin installation of the starter strips and corner posts that receive the siding panels. This begins with techniques for preparing the existing wall and moves through installation of all siding and trim.

Some of these mounting strips are the same for both horizontal and vertical siding. Others are not. Vertical siding, for example, uses a base trim along the bottom instead of a starter strip and/or spacer. Because horizontal siding is by far the most common type used, we focus on its installation here. You may need to adapt the instructions slightly for vertical siding, as discussed in the article How to Install Vertical Vinyl Siding.

 

Vinyl Siding Starter Strips

Starter Strip and Under-Sill Trim

Starter Strip and Under-Sill Trim

Snap a level chalk line for the first starter strip at the base of the wall, no less than 8 inches above ground level, after determining the lowest corner of the house. This is where the new siding will begin. This chalk line should be level and a consistent distance from the eaves or the top and bottom of the windows.

Most manufacturers produce a starter strip that secures the bottom course of siding to the sheathing and holds it at the proper angle. As shown in the diagram, a wooden spacer can be used to provide the proper angle for the first strip. This should be nailed every 6 inches, with it’s lower edge running along the chalk line.

In cases where the lower portion of a horizontal siding panel must be trimmed so that it may be installed over areas such as steps and porches, make sure the panel is furred out with a similar spacer for proper angle and rigidity. To seal the edge of a siding panel where it has been cut and to secure it to the wall, you can use under-sill trim.

When installing the starter strips allow a 1/8-inch space for corner posts and J- channels for expansion. Keep ends of adjoining starter strips at least 1/4 inch apart to allow for expansion. Nail in the center of the nailing slots. If using insulation or backerboard, shim if necessary to accommodate the added thickness.

 

Install Corner Posts

Install corner posts on exterior house corners.

Install corner posts on exterior house corners.

Position corner posts at exterior and interior corners, and suspend them by two nails driven into the uppermost slot. After checking with a level for plumb, nail them every 12 inches. If you need to stack posts end-to-end to reach the full height of the wall, cut 1/4 inch from the bottom of the top post and position it so that it overlaps the lower post by 1 inch or so so it will shed water.

Install J channels at doors and windows.

Install J channels at doors and windows.

Install Door & Window Trim

Before installing door and window trim, first caulk around the openings to create a moisture- and air-proof seal. Install the tops first, then the sides, and then the bottoms of the window surrounds. Along the tops, install J-channel trim with horizontal siding and base trim with vertical siding.

Cut the trim so it is two channel widths longer than the opening’s width. Miter or cut tabs at the ends. Nail the trim every 12 inches on center. Nail the side pieces every 12 inches, placing the top nail at the top of the nailing slot and all other nails in the center of the nailing slot. If the top is mitered, miter the sides as well. At the bottoms of windows, install under-sill trim for horizontal siding and J-channel trim for vertical siding.

 

Install Trim Under Eaves & Rakes

For horizontal siding, install F-channel trim at the soffit and gable rake. For vertical siding, install J-channel trim. Nail every 12 inches on center.

 

Next: Step 4

How to Install Horizontal Vinyl Siding Panels

How to Install Vinyl Siding Starter & Trim Strips

This article is a continuation of the discussion that began with Step 1: How to Install Vinyl and Aluminum Siding and Step 2: How to Prepare Walls for Vinyl or Aluminum Siding.

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Vinyl Siding Diagram

Step 3: Install Starter Strips & Trim

Now you’re ready to begin installation of the starter strips and corner posts that receive the siding panels. This begins with techniques for preparing the existing wall and moves through installation of all siding and trim.

Some of these mounting strips are the same for both horizontal and vertical siding. Others are not. Vertical siding, for example, uses a base trim along the bottom instead of a starter strip and/or spacer. Because horizontal siding is by far the most common type used, we focus on its installation here. You may need to adapt the instructions slightly for vertical siding, as discussed in the article How to Install Vertical Vinyl Siding.

 

Vinyl Siding Starter Strips

Starter Strip and Under-Sill Trim

Starter Strip and Under-Sill Trim

Snap a level chalk line for the first starter strip at the base of the wall, no less than 8 inches above ground level, after determining the lowest corner of the house. This is where the new siding will begin. This chalk line should be level and a consistent distance from the eaves or the top and bottom of the windows.

Most manufacturers produce a starter strip that secures the bottom course of siding to the sheathing and holds it at the proper angle. As shown in the diagram, a wooden spacer can be used to provide the proper angle for the first strip. This should be nailed every 6 inches, with it’s lower edge running along the chalk line.

In cases where the lower portion of a horizontal siding panel must be trimmed so that it may be installed over areas such as steps and porches, make sure the panel is furred out with a similar spacer for proper angle and rigidity. To seal the edge of a siding panel where it has been cut and to secure it to the wall, you can use under-sill trim.

When installing the starter strips allow a 1/8-inch space for corner posts and J- channels for expansion. Keep ends of adjoining starter strips at least 1/4 inch apart to allow for expansion. Nail in the center of the nailing slots. If using insulation or backerboard, shim if necessary to accommodate the added thickness.

 

Install Corner Posts

Install corner posts on exterior house corners.

Install corner posts on exterior house corners.

Position corner posts at exterior and interior corners, and suspend them by two nails driven into the uppermost slot. After checking with a level for plumb, nail them every 12 inches. If you need to stack posts end-to-end to reach the full height of the wall, cut 1/4 inch from the bottom of the top post and position it so that it overlaps the lower post by 1 inch or so so it will shed water.

Install J channels at doors and windows.

Install J channels at doors and windows.

Install Door & Window Trim

Before installing door and window trim, first caulk around the openings to create a moisture- and air-proof seal. Install the tops first, then the sides, and then the bottoms of the window surrounds. Along the tops, install J-channel trim with horizontal siding and base trim with vertical siding.

Cut the trim so it is two channel widths longer than the opening’s width. Miter or cut tabs at the ends. Nail the trim every 12 inches on center. Nail the side pieces every 12 inches, placing the top nail at the top of the nailing slot and all other nails in the center of the nailing slot. If the top is mitered, miter the sides as well. At the bottoms of windows, install under-sill trim for horizontal siding and J-channel trim for vertical siding.

 

Install Trim Under Eaves & Rakes

For horizontal siding, install F-channel trim at the soffit and gable rake. For vertical siding, install J-channel trim. Nail every 12 inches on center.

 

Next: Step 4

How to Install Horizontal Vinyl Siding Panels

How to Nail Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding can either be nailed by hand—with a hammer—or by a power nailer. Following is a discussion of how to do both. Before nailing siding, be sure to read the article How to Install Vinyl or Aluminum Siding for preparation techniques.

 

How to Nail Vinyl Siding with a Hammer

As outside temperatures change, vinyl siding can expand and contract as much as 1/4 inch over a 12-foot 6-inch length. For this reason:

Nails should be centered—not offset—in the nailing slots of vinyl or aluminum siding.

Nails should be centered and driven loosely into the nailing slots of vinyl or aluminum siding.

 

Do not face nail. Face nailing (driving nails through visible parts of the panels) is not only unsightly, but it will also cause vinyl to buckle with changes in temperature.

 

Do not nail any siding parts too tight. Leave 1/32 inch between the nail head and the vinyl. Vinyl siding must be attached “loosely.”

 

Center nails in slots to permit expansion and contraction of the siding.

 

Drive nails straight and level to prevent distortion and buckling of panel.

 

Start nailing vertical siding and trim pieces in the top of the uppermost slots to hold them in position. Place all other nails in the center of the slots.

 

Space nails a maximum of 16 inches apart for horizontal siding panels, every 12 inches for vertical siding panels, and 6 to 12 inches for accessories. (See individual manufacturer’s instructions for fastening specific accessories and for recommended spacing.)

 

Make sure the panels are locked at the bottom, but do not pull them tight when nailing.

 

Power-Nailing & Stapling Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding nail gun and adapter

This roofing nailer works well for nailing vinyl siding when fitted with the adapter shown. Photo: Bostitch

Installing vinyl siding involves a lot of nailing. Because of this, a pneumatic nail gun can make the job much easier. Technique, however, is critical. Because vinyl siding panels must be fastened in place loosely, as described above, power-nailing or stapling panels requires a special adapter that fits on the power nailer or stapler and allows for a slightly-loose attachment.

You can buy these vinyl siding tools online at Amazon.

Always hold the pneumatic stapler or nailer parallel to the siding panels. Place the guide into the nailing slot, and shoot a fastener in the center of the nail slots. All panels should move freely under the fastener to allow for the expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes.

 

Vinyl siding should be installed in accordance with the installation instructions supplied by the siding manufacturer. Staples and nails must be resistant to corrosion, such as cadmium-coated, galvanized steel, or aluminum varieties.

 

Staples should be at least 16-gauge and semi-flattened to an elliptical cross-section. The staple’s crown must be at least 7/16 inch wide and its length should be long enough to penetrate into a solid substrate such as sheathing or backerboard of at least 3/4 inch.

 

Power fasteners are designed to operate at specific air-pressure settings. Set the initial air pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Test the gun, your air pressure, and your usage technique on the first course of siding. Then, make the required adjustments or changes so that the following conditions are present on all panels fastened:

For fastener depth, provide 1/32-inch clearance between the staple crown or nail head and the siding panel.

 Place fasteners at every stud or at a maximum of 16- inch spacing into solid substrate.

 Center the fastener leg in the nail slot.

 Make sure the panel is loose so that it can move freely in a lateral direction.

 During installation, regularly check to be sure you are fastening correctly.