Ultimate Guide to Vinyl Siding

Few home improvements and repairs can enhance your house’s curb appeal and performance like a new siding. Different siding materials have come and gone over the years, but the vinyl remains one of the most popular ones. Vinyl is a standard home siding material that evolved after aluminum and steel, as the search for low-cost and low-maintenance siding continued.

Advantages of Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is tough, low-maintenance, durable, and easy to install, making it popular with professionals and DIY homeowners who are taking on home improvement projects. It has become one of the most common choices in siding – more than a third of the exterior cladding installed on homes is vinyl. If having a new siding is something you consider, here are some great advantages as to why you should think about getting vinyl:

1. Aesthetics

Vinyl siding comes in a range of styles, colors, and textures. It is usually chosen as an alternative for wood – it can imitate its look, but without the cost and maintenance, you have to deal with real wood siding. It’s manufactured with the color all the way through the material, so it won’t fade or turn yellow over time. The panels look beautiful up close, and they won’t flake, chip, or show scratches.

2. Low cost

You will have to spend low to moderate costs for vinyl siding. It’s usually less expensive than aluminum or steel.

3. Low maintenance

Unlike natural wood, vinyl siding doesn’t need painting or scraping to keep its appearance. You just need to rinse it with a garden hose to clean up the dust and dirt that may accumulate over time. And if you encounter hard-to-remove soiling, you can simply use mild soap and water and scrub it a little bit. Cleaning vinyl siding  is easier than cleaning up wood siding.

4. Long-lasting

Vinyl siding is reliable, strong, and dent-resistant. Since it’s made of a tough PVC material, it won’t rot, break down or deteriorate over time. It can withstand harsh weather conditions like cold, heat, winds, and moisture. You don’t have to worry about warping, rotting, splitting, or getting infested by insects. And since it allows moisture to escape, you don’t have to worry about preventing mold and mildew.

5. Easy to install

This type of exterior cladding is one of the easiest to install. It comes with a nice, uniform look, and it’s lightweight and easy-to-carry material will help you save on labor costs. You can even do the installation yourself if you are skilled!

Vinyl Siding Styles

Vinyl siding comes in different styles. You can choose from textured or smooth panels – those with simulated wood grain are popular. There are also different kinds of widths. You can find 8”-wide panels, those that look like two 5” panels, or three 3” courses of siding.

While there are countless style specifics for vinyl siding, here are some major styles:

1. Horizontal

Horizontal siding is the most popular cladding for homes. Traditional lap siding gives off a classic look, with so many ways to customize through colors, textures, and shadow lines. It’s possible to choose from a selection of wood grain textures that imitate the look of natural wood realistically without the hassles that come with maintaining real wood siding.

2. Vertical

Vertical siding is an excellent choice for low porch walls, gables, entryways, and dormers. There are also a lot of styles to choose from, like traditional vertical panels or a board and batten style that recreates the classic look often associated with historic homes.

3. Shakes and Shingles

Vinyl shakes and shingles offer the authentic appearance of real wood that has been incorporated into home exteriors throughout America’s history. This style works well both as a whole-house siding and as a decorative accent. If you combine shakes and shingles with other materials like stone, you can create a naturally beautiful look that will add a lot of curb appeal to your house.

4. Insulated

Since insulated vinyl siding has been introduced to the market, it has been a hit with homeowners. It’s basically a regular vinyl siding laminated with a foam core backing. It’s popular because it offers an air and moisture infiltration barrier and a thermal break to stop heat transmission. This style is designed with energy efficiency in mind, making it a superb choice for those looking for a greener, more sustainable option.

What Should I Consider Before Installing Vinyl Siding?

Most vinyl sidings have low-gloss finishes that closely resemble painted wood. Most manufacturers offer realistic grain patterns and improved trim pieces. With modern vinyl siding products, you don’t have to worry about fading and yellowing and its rigidity if they are installed correctly. But still, there are things to consider before installing vinyl siding in your home.

1. Cost

According to Home Advisor, vinyl siding costs an average of 11,190 to install, with homeowners paying around $6,000 to more than $16,000 for the entire home. On average, installing vinyl siding costs $7.50 per square foot, with $3 per square foot on the cheapest and $12 per square foot on the priciest. Vinyl is the most affordable siding material after metal.

2. Quality

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the vinyl used in siding. It includes additives that help the material resist fading, protect it against damage from ultraviolet rays, and provide lots of color choices.

Here’s how you can judge if the vinyl siding is of good quality when you shop:

  • Vinyl siding standards are covered by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard 3679. The sidings you buy must have this designation on the packaging and the product manual.
  • The panels must be at least .040 inches thick. ASTM standard only requires .035, but up to .045 is better.
  • Look for anti-weathering protection because direct sunlight is deadly to raw vinyl.
  • Check the warranty. Fifty years warranty is standard, while some even come with a lifetime warranty that can be transferred to the next owner of your house. However, some warranties are pro-rated, so make sure you read the fine print.

3. Other houses in the area

Purists scoff at the idea of “wrapping houses in plastic,” especially for older homes that have significant architectural detail. If you live in a historic neighborhood, the house sided in vinyl will most likely look the odd one out. But that doesn’t mean older houses can’t be sided with vinyl – manufacturers today create period patterns that are found on older homes.

If you’re not sure that you will like the look of vinyl in your house, see how it looks on other houses in the area. If others have vinyl siding, it’s less likely to diminish the value of your house.

How to Install Vinyl Siding

If you decide to install vinyl siding yourself, here’s what you need to do:

1. Purchase the right amount of siding.

Ordering too little siding will make you end up with delays while having too much will give you a storage problem. To make sure you buy the right amount of siding, estimate the square footage of your house’s exterior. Take the length and width of each section where you want to install the siding. Multiply the two measurements together and divide them by 144 to get the total number of square feet for every section. Round it off to the nearest whole number, then add up all the various sections.

Then, take the measurements of your windows and doors and do the same to get the square feet measurement. Subtract this number from your total square footage earlier to get an accurate measurement. You may want to put in an additional 10 to 20 percent to your final numbers to account for potential mistakes.

2. Make some repairs.

Vinyl siding can be installed directly over an existing wood siding, but only if the wood is still in good condition. In some instances, it’s best to remove the current siding to install vinyl. Sometimes, there is rotting siding, so make sure to check for soft spots and moisture problems and address them properly. Remove any downspouts and gutters and any trim. Before installing the vinyl, make sure that the exterior is in its best possible condition so it would last longer and not cause issues later on.

3. Prepare.

Vinyl is an easy siding material to work with, but it’s still a good idea to make sure that you prepare the area so you can work smoothly. Remove any obstacles so you can easily carry the siding from the cutting station to the place where you want to install it. Gather your tools and double-check the style, color, and amount before starting your project.

4. Find the right timing.

Wait for a temperate day to install to make your job go more smoothly. It’s best to select a day when the temperatures are moderate to install vinyl siding. Extreme cold can make your siding slightly brittle, which makes cutting it a more difficult task. Meanwhile, extreme heat can soften the siding and make it harder to handle.

5. Gather your tools and materials for the job.

Besides the vinyl siding itself, there are other tools and materials you need to install it successfully. While vinyl can be cut and installed with different tools, you can get the best results, faster installation, and fewer issues if you use tools and materials specially designed to be used with vinyl.

Tools:

  • Vinyl saw blade
  • Power saw
  • Metal square
  • Measuring tape
  • Galvanized shingle nails
  • Tin snips
  • Snap-lock punch
  • Ladder
  • Pry bar
  • Level
  • Pliers

Materials:

  • Soffit and fascia covers
  • Starter strip
  • J-channel
  • Flashing
  • Corner moldings
  • Rigid foam board (if you’re going over existing siding)

If you are going to install the vinyl siding over the old siding, you need to install rigid foam board insulation over the existing siding first. Ensure that none of the old sidings are rotting or pest-infested because if it does, you need to remove them first.

6. Install.

Before installing the siding, install window and door trims. Put the J-channel at the soffit, then overlap to prevent moisture and rain from entering the back of the siding.

After securing trims on the windows and doors, begin installing the vinyl siding from the bottom up. Set up a level starter strip about six inches off the ground, and use a chalk line to make sure you are doing it level from corner to corner. The first set of siding panels will be installed on the starter strip.

As you install, set each course of siding to overlap the one below. Lift it up slightly as you nail it into place – this will prevent it from loosening over time due to the wind and weather. As you finish each section, cap the corners of the house before installing the trim. A vinyl siding with locking technology can make installing easier and more efficient.

Dry-fit each new course before cutting to get the best fit. Also, make sure that each course is level as you go to account for any irregularities in the exterior. Plan out in advance where your seams will be, and try to create a pattern that can stagger the seams so you won’t have lots of seams lining up in the same place.