How to Install Vinyl Siding

Learn how to install vinyl siding on your home. From the proper nail technique to the basics of siding installation, we have you and your house covered with this DIY project.

One Weekend
Less Than $5,000

What You Need for This Project

Important Installation Tips

1. Allow for expansion and contraction. 

Vinyl Siding must be nailed so expansion and contraction are not restricted. Siding must be cut in lengths to provide for expansion. Allow a 1/4 inch gap for expansion wherever siding butts accessories. Allow 3/8 in. when installing in freezing weather (below 4 C). 

2. Choose the right nails

Allow approximately 1/16 in. between nail head and vinyl. This will permit expansion and contraction as well as prevent dimpling, which causes waves in siding.  

3. Centre nails in slots

Do not nail to the extreme right or left of nail slot in siding panel.  

4. Drive nails straight and level

Crooked nails will distort siding panels, causing panels to buckle.  

5. Do NOT face nail

Nailing directly into siding panel will restrict horizontal movement and cause panel to buckle. 

6. Never pull siding taut when nailing

Pulling the panel taut stretches the panel out of shape and causes an undesirable lap joint. Panels should be locked, then pushed up from the bottom until full lock contact is made. Nail into place. 

7. Space nails properly

Siding panels should be nailed 12 in. to 16 in. on centre.

Cutting Tips

Aviation & Tin Snip

Start cutting at the top interlock and continue toward the bottom of the panel.

Utility Knife

Score panel with knife, then bend the vinyl back and forth until it snaps cleanly on the scored line.

Power Saw, Bench, or Radial Arm Saw

Use a fine-tooth blade with slow cutting movements. Reverse the blade in the saw for extra-smooth cutting through the vinyl and to reduce chipping.

Before You Start: Prepare the Surface

  • Securely nail all loose boards and wood trim and replace any rotted boards. 
  • Scrape away old caulking around windows and doors. The build-up of old caulking interferes with the positioning of new trim for the siding. 
  • Remove down-spouts, lighting fixtures, and mouldings where they will interfere with the siding installation. 
  • Window sill extension may be cut off so new trim can be installed flush with the window casing. 
  • Tie back shrubbery and trees where they are close to the wall. This will give you more room to work. It will also avoid damage to the landscaping.


House wrap or sheathing insulation board that helps insulate and level out the exterior of a house is recommended. Some manufacturers strongly recommend against the use of drop-in type foam or fibreboard behind vinyl siding. This type of insulation may change and flatten the specialty built-in contour of the panel, causing the siding to bulge or ripple.

How to Install Vinyl Siding

  1. 1

    Install the Starter Strip

    • Measure the width and length of the starter strip, and deduct 1/4 in. from this measurement.  

    • Partly drive in a nail just above the wall at this height.  

    • Sketch a chalk line from this nail to a similar nail at the corner.  

    • Position starter strip with the top edge of chalk line and allow room for corner posts.  

    • Nail to wall, at 10 in. intervals directly into the centre of nailing slots. 

    • As you add starter strip sections, be sure to leave 1/4 in. space between strips for expansion.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Install the Inside Corner Posts

    • Inside corner posts are installed at the existing corners, running from 3/4 in. below the bottom of the starter strip. 

    • Measure and cut each exterior corner moulding piece. 

    • Ensure the mouldings are straight, placing them 1/4 in. lower than the soffit moulding and nail the piece to the uppermost nailing slot. Nail the remaining nails in the centre of the slots at 8 in. to 12 in. intervals.  

    • If more than one length of inside corner post is required, make a splice as follows: Cut 1 in. off all but the outer face of the upper portion of the lower corner post. Then lay 3/4 in. of the upper post over the lower post, allowing 1/4 in. for expansion. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Install the Outside Corner Posts

    • Position the outside corner post to allow 1/4 in. gap at the top where the post will meet the eaves.
    • Cut the post long enough to extend past the bottom of the starter strip by 3/4 in.  

    • Attach the posts by placing a nail in the top of the upper slot on each side. Posts will hang on these two nails. The rest of the nails should be nailed in the centre of the slots, 8 in. to 12 in. intervals.  

    • If more than one length of outside corner post is required, make a splice as follows: cut 1 in. of the nailing flanges and receiving channel stops away from the bottom portion of the upper post. Then lap 3/4 in. of the upper post over the lower post allowing 1/4 in. for expansion. 

    • Bend the flaps to close off the post. A rivet can be used if needed.
  2. Steps:

  1. 4

    Install Moulding Around Doors & Windows

    • Measure the window and cut the moulding of the bottom of the window 2 in. longer than the width.  

    • Cut a 1 in. notch on each side of the nailing flange, on the part that will rest on the sill.  

    • Nail the moulding under each overhang, extending 1 in. on either side.  

    • Then cut four pieces of J-moulding for the sides, making sure they are 2 in. longer than the height and width of the window and nail. 
    • At each end cut a 1 in. notch at the two bottom corners of the J-moulding pieces for the top and fold back the tabs at a 90 degree angle.  

    • Mitre the front of the J-moulding at a 45 degree angle towards the roof line and nail into place.  

    • Tuck the tabs of the upper moulding in the notches of the two lateral mouldings to form a water run-off.

    • Repeat for additional windows and doors. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 5

    Install the J-Channel Mouldings

    • Nail in the J-channel moulding under the soffitt mouldings.  

    • Install them along the gable angle against the soffit overhang. Make angled joints.  

    • Install the J-channel moulding along the sloping roof lines, around 1/2 in. from asphalt shingles. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 6

    Install Horizontal Panels

    • Snap bottom of panel into starter strip and nail to wall as in Important Installation Tips. Begin panel installation at back corner of house and work toward house front. Leave a 1/4 in. space where panel butts corner post.

    • Overlap each panel 1 in. to 11/4 in. of the factory pre-notched cutouts. Last nail should be at least 10 in. from end of panel to allow neat lap. 

    • After completing the first course, work your way up. Start each course at back of the house and continue toward front.  

    • Stagger joints properly, lapping them away from street and entrance. Leave a 1/4 in. gap where panels butt corner posts and J-channel around window.
  2. Steps:

  1. 7

    Fitting Siding Under Windows

    • Measure the under the edge of the window and add 5/8 in. to the measurement. Cut siding panel to fit under the opening. Make vertical cuts on the siding panel with saw or snips. Then score horizontally with a utility knife and snap out section to be removed. 

    • Install the undersil trim flush to the casing of the window.  

    • Using the snap-lock punch, punch the panel 1/4 in. below the cut edge at 6 in. intervals.  

    • Overlap the panel into the undersil trim and then lock in the bottom edge.  

    • Repeat for the panels on the sides of the windows and doors.  

    • For the panel above the windows and doors, measure the width then add 3/8 in. 

    • Cut the bottom of the panel and slot the panel in under the J-moulding so it locks in place. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 8

    Finishing the Top of the Walls

    • Nail the J-moulding under the soffit moulding.  

    • Measure the distance between the top of the fascia board and nailing flange of the preceding panel, and subtract 1/4 in. from this measurement.  

    • Cut the top of the nail and punch the top panel with a snap-lock punch every 6 in. on the cut edge so that the raised projections fade out.  

    • Inset the top of the panel into the J-moulding and then lock in the bottom edge. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 9

    Install Along the Roof Line

    • Nail J-channel to sidewall flush with gable. 

    • If more than one length of J-channel is required to finish one side of gable, a splice will be needed. To cut panels on proper angle, use two scrap pieces of siding to make a pattern for cutting.  

    • Interlock one panel with the siding panel below, hold the other piece on top against the gable. Then mark a line on bottom piece and cut. This piece is now a pattern for cutting panels to fit along one side of gable.  

    • Follow the same procedure to make a pattern for other side.

    • Lock pre-cut siding panel into siding panel below and slide siding panel into J-channel. 
  2. Steps:

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