Vinyl siding is one of the easiest types of siding to install, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require skill or knowledge to complete properly. When incorrectly installed, vinyl siding will let water in, and it will become a lovely home for all sorts of pests—which won’t look very good either. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common mistakes while installing vinyl siding.
Consider a Wider Starting Strip
There are several options of starter strip available for starting vinyl siding. Most people are inclined to use the thinner starter to get things going because it’s more affordable—but this is a bad move. Spend the extra money and invest in 3-1/2″ starter strip. During your installation, make sure that at least 1″ of the starter strip hangs down over top of the foundation of the house, and drop it down as low as you can while installing the strip properly.
The more that the foundation is covered by the starter strip, the better the siding is going to protect the house against rain, snow, and anything else that nature throws at it.
Level it Out Carefully
Properly installed siding needs to be leveled. Not only will it function better if it’s all leveled out, but it will go on more easily as well. When you first get going with the project, snap a level chalk line all around the base of your home where the first run of siding will go. This is to help get your installation straight. Then throughout your project, take the time to level things out about once every five courses to keep things going properly.
Leave Space on the Ends
Vinyl siding has to be able to move just slightly after it’s installed. For that reason, it’s important to cut your end pieces so that you have a total of ¼” of extra space together on both ends of your siding runs. This is to help with expansion during the summer months, to keep your siding from buckling and having other nasty problems along the way.
Use a Vinyl Blade to Make the Cuts
Don’t try using a standard fine-toothed saw blade to cut your vinyl sections. Instead, rely on a specialty vinyl blade. The blade arranges the teeth backwards so that the cut is smoother. This cuts down on chipping and other issues during standard cutting and makes the project go much more effectively overall.
Lock Siding Down Loosely
It’s important that you don’t actually lock the siding tightly against the walls of the house. Instead, you should leave a gap between the head of the nails and the siding being locked down underneath them. This will allow the siding to move properly as it expands and contracts.
Lift and Nail
The last thing you want is for your siding to come apart after it has been installed. That’s why you should pull each piece up slightly as you are nailing it. As you go along, lift up the piece and then nail it into place. This helps to securely lock the pieces together and to create a sturdy bond between the sections of siding.
Choose the Proper Nails
Select galvanized roofing nails to hold the siding firmly in place and to stand up to weather properly after the siding is installed. Make sure that they’re are at least two inches in length, but use longer nails if the siding is going over top of rigid foam instead of right up against sheathing. Make sure that the nails are galvanized or the weather will corrode them much faster than it should and you’ll be left with siding falling off your home.
Flash Window Bottoms
Before you even get started with the siding installation, it’s important that you flash the bottom corners of each of the windows. To do this, you simply cut out a section of felt paper to fit right over the corner of the window and nail it in place with the roofing nails. Putting that small piece of roofing felt around each of the corners will help keep water from getting in behind the J-channels and rotting the framing around the windows. Instead, any water that gets behind the channels will roll down the flashing and then out on top of the existing siding—just make sure that the bottom of the flashing comes out over the run of siding just below it or it won’t work properly.
By keeping each of these tips in mind during your siding installation, you can improve the final results, cut your installation time down, and even improve the overall look of the finished product. The tips are simple, but important, and are key to getting the siding on properly.
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