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How-to install exterior vinyl siding

The outside of your property betrays its age? Give it a youthful look by installing a new siding. Vinyl siding is the number one choice and for good reason: it is easily installed and maintained; it is offered in a variety of colours and textures; It resists excessive moisture, meaning it won't rot or corrode over time and is economical.

Preparation and instructions

Careful planning is fundamental when you replace vinyl siding on exterior walls so that siding is perfectly aligned in the corners, around windows and door frames.
  • Ensure that:
  • Surfaces are flat and wood furring is solid
  • The protection barrier is intact
  • The flashing around the doors and windows is satisfactory: a minimum of 9” wide on all four sides, starting on the bottom, followed by the sides and finishing with the top of the window.
  • The soffit moulding is installed.
  • Nailing tips
  • Center nails in slots, spaced at 12” to 16”.
  • Drive nails in horizontally.
  • Allow 1/32” between nail heads and vinyl to permit room for expansion and contraction caused by temperature fluctuations.
  • Choose nails with heads 5/16” in diameter and shanks 1/8” in diameter.
  • Leave ¼” gaps between siding pieces and trim and between butt ends of adjoining siding pieces.
  • Cutting tips
  • Across the width – use a utility knife with retractable blade
  • Across the length – use snips
  • You can also use a circular saw with a fine blade.

Install outside and inside corners

  • 1.1 - Measure and cut each exterior corner moulding. The post should run from ¾" below the starter strip to ¼" below the soffit moulding.
  • 1.2 - Position the corner moulding ¼" lower than the soffit moulding and place nails at the top of the uppermost nailing slot.
  • 1.3 - Ensure corner mouldings are straight and plumb, then place the remaining nails in the centre of the slots at 8" to 12" intervals.
  • 1.4 - If more than one length is required, make a splice: overlay the upper section over the lower section.
  • 1.5 - Cut 1" off the nailing flange on the upper section, then lay ¾" of the upper section over the lower section.
  • 1.6 - Close off the bottom of the corner moulding with a rivet or cut tabs and fold back towards the inside.
  • 1.7 - Measure and cut each interior corner moulding. The interior post should run from ¼" below the starter strip to ¼" below the soffit moulding.
  • 1.8 - Position the corner moulding ¼" lower than the soffit moulding and place nails at the top of the uppermost nailing slot.

Install the starter strip

The starter strip must be secured to horizontal furring around the perimeter of the building. Since it determines the straightness of the installation as a whole, it is vital that the starter strip is straight and square.
  • 2.1 - Determine the lowest part of the wall that will be sided, close to the foundation of the house.
  • 2.2 - Measure the width of the starter strip (between 2 ½" and 3½") and deduct ¼" from this measurement.
  • 2.3 - Partly drive in a nail just above the wall at this height.
  • 2.4 - Stretch a chalk line from this nail to a similar nail at the next corner. Be sure the line is level and snap the line.
  • 2.5 - Repeat the same procedure around the entire surface to be sided, at the same height.
  • 2.6 - Nail the starter strip directly on the chalk line around the house.
  • 2.7 - Nail at 10" intervals directly into the centre of nailing slots.
  • 2.8 - Allow a ¼" gap for expansion between the starter strip and corner post mouldings.
  • 2.9 - Allow a ½" gap for expansion between sections of starter strip.

Install moulding around doors and windows

  • 3.1 - Measure the contour of the window.
  • 3.2 - Cut the moulding for the bottom of the window 2" longer than the width.
  • 3.3 - Cut a 1" notch on each side of the nailing flange, on the part that will rest on the sill, leaving the front part intact.
  • 3.4 - Nail the moulding under each overhang, extending 1" on either side.
  • 3.5 - Cut two pieces of J-moulding for the sides, 2" longer than the height of the window, and nail.
  • 3.6 - Cut the J-moulding for the top, 2" longer than the width of the window. At each end, cut a 1" notch at the two bottom corners of the J-moulding and fold back the tabs to a 90° angle.
  • 3.7 - Mitre the front of the J-moulding at a 45° angle towards the roof line. Nail into place.
  • 3.8 - Tuck the tabs of the upper moulding in the notches of the two lateral mouldings to form a water run-off.
  • 3.9 - Measure the contour of the doors and install the side mouldings. Finish with the top moulding.

Install the "J" Channel mouldings

  • 4.1 - Nail in J-moulding under the soffit mouldings.
  • 4.2 - Install J-moulding along the gable angle against the soffit overhang. Make angled joins.
  • 4.3 - Install J-moulding along sloping rooflines, ½" from asphalt shingles.

Install horizontal panels

  • 5.1 - Install the first siding panel on the starter strip over its entire length. Centre nails through slots and drive in straight.
  • 5.2 - Insert the ends into corner post mouldings. Allow a ¼" gap for expansion.
  • 5.3 - Snap the bottom of the panel into the starter strip before nailing.
  • 5.4 - Do not exert pressure when nailing in panels. Allow 1/32" between the nail head and vinyl siding to permit expansion and contraction.
  • 5.5 - Check for level using a chalk line. Siding should be lapped away from high-traffic areas.
  • 5.6 - Overlap panels by 1". Nail at 6" from the ends.
  • 5.7 - Stagger rows by 4' so that joins will not be vertically aligned.
  • 5.8 - Check for level every five or six rows. Never pull siding panels when nailing.

Install panels around windows and doors

  • 6.1 - Insert a piece of finishing moulding into the J-moulding under the edge of the window.
  • 6.2 - Measure the distance between the lower edge of the interlocking grooves of the finishing moulding and the grooves and last panel.
  • 6.3 - Add 5/8" to this measurement so that the edge of the panel can be inserted into the finishing moulding.
  • 6.4 - Cut the top of the vinyl panel.
  • 6.5 - Punch top panel with a snap-lock punch every 6" in the cut edge so that raised projections face out.
  • 6.6 - Overlap the panel into the finishing moulding and then lock in the bottom edge.
  • 6.7 - Install panels on both sides of the window.
  • 6.8 - For the panel above windows and doors, measure the width and add 3/8" on either side.
  • 6.9 - Cut the bottom of the panel.
  • 6.10 - Slot the panel in under the J- moulding so it locks in to position.

Finishing at tops of walls

  • 7.1 - If not already done, nail in J-moulding under the soffit moulding.
  • 7.2 - Measure the distance between the top of the fascia board and nailing flange of the preceding panel, then subtract ¼" from this measurement.
  • 7.3 - Cut the top of the panel.
  • 7.4 - Punch top panel with a snap-lock punch every 6" in the cut edge so that raised projections face out.
  • 7.5 - Insert the top of the panel into the J-moulding and then lock in the bottom edge.

Install along a sloping roofline

  • 8.1 - If not already done, nail in J-moulding ½" under the pitched roof.
  • 8.2 - Nail in J-moulding on all roof edges.
  • 8.3 - Slide kick-out flashing into the corner under the end of the J-moulding and asphalt shingles. Extend to divert rain water from the cladding far away from the wall.
  • 8.4 - Install the vinyl wall panel so that the side edge is behind the kick-out flashing of the fascia.
  • 8.5 - Install the following panels on the wall by inserting the bottom in the J-moulding of the roof.

Gable end installation

  • 9.1 - Insert a small panel at the bottom of the gable to make a template for the cutting angle.
  • 9.2 - Slide a piece, at an angle, into the J-moulding of the gable.
  • 9.3 - Draw a line on the piece to indicate the slope.
  • 9.4 - Install the vinyl panels in the gable using the cutting template.
  • 9.5 - Use a snap-lock punch to make tabs every 6" in the cut edge. Raised projections should face out.
  • 9.6 - Insert the upper panel into the J-moulding then lock in the bottom edge. Allow some space for expansion.
  • 9.7 - Perfectly centred in the nailing slots, drive finishing nails into the last panel under the decorative lip.

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