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. If you are needing help to install vinyl siding, Modernize has tons of reliable local vinyl siding installers waiting to talk to you today.
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.
You probably don’t spend much time thinking about as you go about your busy days. But when you notice that your home or business is projecting an unkempt, run-down appearance, or your interior suddenly feels like it might have become one with the exterior, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can find its way to the top of your mind.
Never fear—if you’re in desperate need of some siding savvy, this article offers guidance to help you make the wisest investment possible in the longevity, curb appeal, and value of your property. From basic vinyl to fiber cement, wood, and even metal cladding options, here’s a rundown of what you should know.
Thanks to its low price point and relative ease of installation, vinyl siding is the most popular cladding material used in North America. Although some are not fond of its somewhat plastic-y look, many recent advancements have been made in its appearance, as well as in the selection and durability of available colors and finishes.
Cost:Vinyl is the least expensive exterior cladding option available—approximately 30% less than the insulated or foam-backed version.
Installation Difficulty: Installation is relatively fast and easy, meaning any labor costs will also be lower.
ROI: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), you can expect to recoup up to 83% of your investment in new vinyl siding at resale.
Energy Efficiency:Varies from product to product but, generally, non-insulated vinyl siding offers minimal insulating effects and has little impact on energy use.
Ideal User:Requiring minimal tools and materials to install and available through big box stores as well as online outlets, vinyl is the most feasible option for do-it-yourselfers, and a cost-effective solution for upgrading the curb appeal of a home destined soon to be sold or “flipped”.
Pro Tip: Compare the thickness of the panels—thicker material will generally be of better quality and more durable.
Needs no painting, won’t warp or twist, and is considered to be the best choice for defending your property against insects and moisture
Available in a range of colors, styles, textures and trim options for effortless customization
As one of the only non-absorptive cladding options, minimizes the accumulation of moisture and the potential for penetration
Lightweight and can be fitted over existing siding
Color nowadays is infused right through the material, so fading and scratching are no longer major concerns.
Over time, can melt, burn, crack and become unstable or rattle in high winds
Even with recent advancements, the oft-touted “realistic” appearance of wood finish vinyl is debatable.
Insulated Vinyl Siding
Insulated siding is vinyl siding with rigid foam insulation laminated or permanently attached to each panel. It reduces energy loss through the studs of a structure by impeding thermal bridging, blanketing a home’s exterior to increasing the overall R-value of exterior walls.
Cost: Slightly higher than traditional vinyl and similar to concrete or wood siding
Installation Difficulty: Comparable to traditional vinyl. Some insulated vinyl options may come in larger panels or longer boards, meaning faster installation and fewer visible seams.
ROI:The general consensus seems to be that you can recoup in the range of 77% of your money invested in insulated siding at resale.
Energy Efficiency: Can increase R-values to 3 or higher, depending on product used and geographical location of the application.
Ideal User:Anyone looking for a cost-effective upgrade that will provide improved energy-efficiency and performance, and that has a good chance of retaining its appearance and value for the duration of their occupancy.
Pro Tip:Feasible to tackle as a DIY project, but ensure that the manufacturer provides detailed instructions, follow them to the letter, and also educate yourself as much as possible through online and other resources.
Recognized as a form of continuous insulation by many energy codes and energy efficiency programs such as ENERGY STAR and LEED
Never needs painting, caulking, or anything much more than occasional cleaning with mild soap and a garden hose
Better impact resistance, weather performance, and sound control than traditional vinyl
May qualify homeowner for energy tax credits
Can be prone to warping and/or buckling if not properly installed
May impede the ventilation and drainage of the property
Can become loose during high winds or storms
Fiber Cement Siding
A blend of cement, sand, and cellulose, fiber cement is widely considered to most closely mimic the appearance of real wood, shingles, stucco and other textures. Can be purchased factory-primed and painted after installation, or pre-painted at a higher cost for improved performance and durability.
Cost:Two to three times higher than aluminum or vinyl
Installation Difficulty: Those with some DIY skills should find installation relatively easy as long as the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications for their products are followed.
ROI: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), expect to recoup up to 79% of your investment in fiber cement siding at resale.
Energy Efficiency: A low R-value and minimal energy savings can be bolstered by the use of insulating sheathing products.
Ideal User:Property owners who are confident with DIY projects and who are not planning to sell for at least the next five years
Pro Tip:If installing yourself, cut nailing time in half by renting a pneumatic coil nailer designed specifically for fiber cement. (Make sure to experiment first on a non-visible area!)
Non-combustible and resistant to fire, impacts, insets, rodents and water
More durable than wood
Can result in a noticeable improvement in energy costs and home comfort
Will look great for 10+ years if you choose to paint it yourself to perfectly match or complement your exterior
A clean, smooth appearance due to no overlapping seams
Requires more manpower to deliver and install, which can drive up costs
Not completely maintenance-free as with time repainting is sure to be required
Depending on how long the property is owned, siding may eventually need to be repaired or replaced.
Generally the most expensive siding material, wood is nonetheless preferred by many for its warmth and charming aesthetic. It is often the material of choice in areas where architectural heritage and continuity are in demand. The most commonly-used and durable woods for siding are western red cedar and redwood.
Cost: Wood is often the most expensive option, and even more so when you factor in future painting and maintenance costs.
Installation Difficulty: Perhaps best left to the experts. Caulking, finishing, and special materials for allowing the wood to breathe all add up to extra time and labor-intensity.
ROI: Despite the fact that it needs regular upkeep, real wood siding is perceived by buyers as a high-end, desirable feature and can boost your home’s resale value appreciably.
Energy Efficiency: Estimates vary, but by most accounts wood siding has a relatively low R-Value, ranging between 0.8 and 1.19 depending on the configuration and thickness of the material.
Ideal User: Anyone whose home is part of a neighborhood of similar homes with a specific architectural heritage or aesthetic, or those who just love the look of real wood and feel its authentic appearance is worth some extra cost and effort.
Pro Tip: Inspect your wood siding regularly to identify any problems and fill in holes to discourage pests.
Long-lasting with proper care, and easy to repair
Customizable installation options and materials, including clapboard, shingles, and shakes
Generally considered to be the most biodegradable and environmentally-friendly option
Often the first choice for agricultural and commercial applications, steel siding offers unmatched protection and durability for a variety of structures and applications.
Cost: Often the cheapest to install, especially if applied over existing siding. Aluminum costs less than steel, and expect to tack on about $1 extra per square foot for insulated panels.
Installation Difficulty: Although a bit more challenging than vinyl to install with some special tools being needed, steel can nonetheless be applied quite quickly and efficiently.
ROI: The ROI for metal siding averaged nationally is estimated to be 86%.
Energy Efficiency: Even uninsulated metal siding provides some degree of protection against heat loss in winter and acts to maintain coolness in summer.
Ideal User: Anyone looking for a practical, environmentally friendly, and damage-resistant material that can perform well for up to 50 years with minimal maintenance would be wise to investigate metal siding.
Pro Tip: With large metal panels weighing several hundred pounds, you’ll need a partner or team to help move them into position for mounting. Pay special attention also to the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper flashing and waterproofing.
Straightforward installation and unlimited colors to choose from
Impervious to insects and resistant to fire, climate extremes and high winds
Green product life cycle (meaning it is often manufactured from recycled metals and can in turn be recycled when dismantled)
Can be noisy, susceptible to impacts, and easily dented
Unless aluminum is used, scratches must be painted or will rust
Rust can be a concern for non-aluminum metal siding in coastal areas with salt spray, fog and other forms of humidity and dampness
So, there you have it—an informative starting point for kicking off your siding search. You should also check out the many useful resources and how-to videos available online and elsewhere to help you make an informed decision, and find out what you can about local and national siding manufacturers and suppliers.
Any effort you put in should be well worth it. Whether you have a horse farm in Chico, operate a restaurant near the ocean in Jacksonville, or make your home amid the four-season splendor, siding installation is an affordable and relatively straightforward improvement that can protect your property and pump up its curb appeal, along with the price it will bring when you sell.
Time spent in any business seems to generate anecdotes about experiences and situations that are just too funny to be true. After 36 years in the home remodeling business the stories have begun to pile up. Some of them are serious, some funny, all of them true with something to be learned. Doug Cornwell: VP of Operations, Alure Home Improvements
This is the first in a series that are truly Too True to be Real.
Many years ago, I was doing a kitchen remodeling project on the North Shore of Long Island, New York. At the time, we did not use garbage dumpsters on the job but rather collected the debris in the driveway and called a company at the end of the project to clean up the site. As normal, we had removed the existing cabinets, counter tops and appliances and began remodeling the kitchen. The project went smoothly, especially considering we were working on an existing Mexican Terracotta floor that was extremely uneven.
During the project, we contended with the homeowner’s two dogs. One was a Doberman puppy about a year old while the other was an elderly, partially deaf and blind dog that basically just slept around the area. The homeowner would put the Doberman away at times because she just wanted to play all the time and often got in the way.
The other dog was never really an issue. Following completion of the project, we called the clean up company who came and removed the debris. That afternoon I received a hysterical call from the wife who, through the sobbing, managed to inform me that she thinks we threw away her elderly dog. She thinks the dog went outside, laid in the debris and was scooped up, put in the truck and went to the dumps with the crew.
Composing myself, I offered to call the crew and would get back to her. After speaking to the owner of the cleanup crew, through his sobbing, he informed me that they had left the dump site but felt that the dog was not with them. I was now destined to call back the homeowner and somehow, through my sobbing, explained that the debris was already disposed of at the landfill but the crew strongly felt the dog was not in the garbage. While she understood, continuing to sob, the dog was still missing.
Three days later, I heard again from the homeowner whose neighbor, five doors down, found the dog roaming the neighbor, lost and confused. Tragedy averted. The message here is that although the elderly dog posed no threat to the people working at the house or the project, the emotional bond, if something should happen, far outweighed everybody’s common sense.
Make sure pets are contained during home remodeling projects for the safety of the crew, the homeowner and the pet.