How to Install Vinyl Siding in 8 Easy Steps

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Vinyl siding planks
Starter trim
J trim
Wall top trim
Corner trim
Soffit and fascia pieces (if desired)
Rigid foam insulation
Box knife
Tin snips
Tape measure
Chalk line

Installing vinyl siding is one of the biggest changes a DIYer can make to the exterior of his or her home. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it's one of the most cost-effective ways to cover the exterior of any house. Before you begin, you'll need to master a few skills, such as being able to correctly read a tape measure, use a box knife or tin snips, read a level, and operate a chalk line. All of these skills are fairly basic and are relatively simple to master.

Once you've determined that you have the proper skill set for the job, you can begin installing your vinyl siding.

Step 1 - Measure the Space

Now, this does not have to be exact to the square inch. In fact, you probably want to overestimate a little to ensure you order enough material. Simply measure the height and width of every wall you want to cover and round up to the nearest half foot. (It’s easiest to mark it down as a decimal, for example, 5.5 feet instead of using fractions.)

Multiply width and height for each wall and add them together.

Now, go back and calculate the area of each door and window on each side, rounding down to the nearest half foot. You round down in this instance because you always want to minimize area you aren't covering and maximize what you are covering to ensure you have enough materials.

Subtract the area of your doors and windows from your total area of wall space to be covered. Add 10-15% for cut-offs and for trimming around doors and windows.

Step 2 - Measure for Trim

The sides and tops of your doors and windows will get trimmed with J-trim. You can also use it along the bottom of window sills, but it's not as common because many homeowners don't like the way it looks. Add up all the side and top dimensions of all your doors and windows.

The tops of your walls and underneath your window sills will get a wall top trim piece, so measure them all and add the dimensions.

The bottom edge of each wall will get starter strips. Measure and add all of these lengths together.

Your corners, soffit, and fascia can all be trimmed in vinyl, too. Alternatively, you can continue painting them, but converting them to vinyl siding is the best way to get a matching look and protect your home. Measure the length of each piece and make notes somewhere so that you don't have to remeasure later on. Measure the whole area of your soffit, and be sure to count the number of soffit vents you have. Then, add these measurements together.

Finally, add all trim measurements together, add an additional 10-15%, and record that number for purchasing.

Step 3 - Estimate Other Material Needs

Once you've estimated your total siding and trim needs, you need to consider accessories. From your estimates, a siding sales specialist at your local home center or lumber yard can help you estimate the number of nails or screws you will need.

Additionally, if you intend to add a layer of rigid foam board underneath, you will need to purchase the same amount of rigid foam as the area of your walls, minus the area that accounts for door and window space.

Step 4 - Purchase All Necessary Materials

Take your list of estimated measurements to your local home improvement center or lumber yard. Select the style and color of vinyl you want, and order enough material to cover everything on your list. (Double-check your estimates to make sure they include a 10-15% overage.)

Depending on how much material you order, many home improvement centers will deliver the order to your home for a small fee. Unless you have a truck or other vehicle that will allow long siding pieces to be easily loaded and unloaded, delivery is highly recommended.

Step 5 - Install Your Trim Pieces

Measure and cut trim pieces for the tops and bottoms of all walls and around doors and windows. You can use a box knife or sharp snips to make the cuts.

Install the trim along the edges, corners, fascia, soffit, and tops and bottoms of all walls. The trim will provide a framework for the siding and hold it in place at the ends, tops, and bottoms of each wall, so you should use a level and chalk line to mark your starter strip positions, just above ground level or just above the top of any exposed foundation wall. This will give your siding a level pattern to follow.

Sep 6 - Install Your Rigid Foam (Optional)

Rigid foam needs to be set underneath the siding, so it must be installed first if you've chosen to use it for your home.

Cut the pieces to fit your walls using a box knife or scissors. Most installers use the ¼” thick blue foam, which is easy to cut.

Install the foam using deck screws or flat head siding/roofing nails. Screws are typically faster with a cordless drill than hand nailing.

Leave the foam about an inch away from all trim pieces to make the siding installation simple.

Step 7 - Install Your Siding

Choose which wall you'd like to begin installing, and start at the bottom corner. Snap the bottom edge of siding into the starter strip so that it stands upright along the wall. Tuck the beginning edge into the channel along the side of your corner trim. Nail or screw the piece in place, installing one fastener every eight to ten inches along the nailing strip at the top edge of the siding.

Add pieces end to end, overlapping them by at least one inch in the direction of the opposite corner of the wall. Cut the last piece to fit so that it overlaps the piece before and tucks into the channel in the corner trim. Install the next row as the first, using the channel in the bottom edge of the nailing strip at the top of the first row of siding, as you did the starter strip. Fasten the siding in place.

Continue to the top of the wall. In most cases, the top row will need to be cut to height, so that that the cut edge fits into the wall top trim. (Tip: starter trim can also be used at the top of the wall if hung upside down.)

Step 8 - Maneuvering Around Doors and Windows

Make sure to cut pieces to fit around doors and windows as needed. When going above or below windows and doors, your pieces will probably need to be cut to height in the area of the opening, so that the edges fit snugly into the J trim or wall top trim. Tin snips work well for creating notches in these cases.

If you get yourself into a tricky situations, you can consult manufacturers' websites, which often have excellent, detailed installation guides to help you work through any problem areas you may encounter.

Once you've completed the same processes for all walls of your house, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty you've created.