How to Install Vertical Vinyl Siding

Installing vertical vinyl siding is a speedier task than its horizontal cousin because the panels are larger. Less cutting and nailing means a residential face lift in less time. Good planning, inspection, preparation and installation mean you’ll quickly return to the lawn chair, iced tea in hand and enjoying your home’s new look.

Tools and Material List

  • Hammer
  • Circular saw with fine tooth blade
  • Square
  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Tin snips
  • 6-foot ladder
  • Extension ladder
  • Extension cord
  • Saw horses
  • Siding panels
  • J-channel
  • Inside and outside corners
  • Starter strip
  • Furring strips
  • House wrap
  • Corrosion resistant fasteners
  • Strong magnet (rent)

Step 1 – Plan

Measure the height and width of your exterior walls including windows and doors (to allow a waste factor) and then build an accurate material list so that everything you need for your siding project is on site before you begin. No matter how close the supply house is those extra trips made necessary by skipping this step will make this planning time seem short by comparison.

Inspection is planning. Can you nail into the home’s existing surface? If not you’ll need to add furring strips for nailers. Do you need to replace any underlayment? If so, now is the time to do it. Is the substrate plumb, square and level? Correct these problems so that the siding will go up like the home was purpose built for it.

Step 2 – Prepare

Like planning, preparation may seem like a distraction from your main purpose but this is an important phase. Attention to detail here will be reflected through the siding. 

  • Tie back shrubs
  • Secure loose boards
  • Remove loose calk around windows and doors and then re-caulk to seal those openings
  • Remove obstructions such as light fixtures and dryer vents
  • Seal any cracks
  • Apply house wrap
  • Install furring strips or shim so that the siding will install plumb, level and square
  • Flash around wall penetrations such as lights, windows and doors and where siding meets other surfaces such as brick or stucco

Step 3 – Installation

Now that you’re ready, install the inside and outside corners and J-channel. Next snap a level chalk line then install the horizontal starter strip.

Siding will expand and contract according to outside temperature and in direct sunlight. Manufacturers allow for expansion by slotting the nail openings. Nails, staples or screws must be installed at the center of these slots. Do not drive the fastener tight; this will inhibit movement necessary for expansion and contraction and give your siding an “oil-can” or a dimpled / buckled appearance.

Step 4 – Finish

Re-install lighting fixtures and other items removed in your preparation phase. Use a strong magnet on a rope to pick up nails and other metal dropped during the installation. Remove scraps and project trash, untie the shrubs and then take your pictures.

A Final Thought

Plan your job as if your only task was to purchase the correct amount of supplies. Inspect and replace loose or rotted wood; fur and shim for square. Do all this as if the application of siding were an afterthought not the project’s focus and you’ll find that the speed and pleasure of the work will be as pleasing a memory as the finished job will look.