Vinyl siding is the highest-volume siding product on the
residential market today. The material is relatively
inexpensive, readily available, and requires few specialty
tools to install. Yet despite the short learning curve, I'm
constantly surprised by the number of installers who just can't
seem to "get it right."
I work for the fourth-largest siding manufacturer in the
country. When our company receives a complaint from a customer,
I'm one of the reps who goes out and inspects the work. Often,
the customer will point out buckled fascia, loose siding
panels, or wavy siding. Over 90% of these problems are because
of fastening methods that do not allow the vinyl and aluminum
products to expand and contract freely. In this article, I'll
explain the methods contractors should use to avoid
Level the Playing Field
In most cases, siding should be installed level. On new homes,
this is seldom a problem — you just snap a level line
around the house by measuring off the foundation sill plate.
But older homes can present a challenge. The foundation may
have settled, or a cobbled addition may be seriously out of
Start laying out courses at the lowest spot on the
structure, and use a transit, water level, or line level to
establish ground zero. Measure up from this low point, and make
a mark that represents the top of the first course of siding.
Carry this mark around the entire house, and use a chalk line
to connect the points.
Foundations that crowd too far up into the siding can
present problems when it's time to apply the siding starter
strip. If the foundation wanders away from the siding plane (a
stone foundation, for example), a plywood nailing band can be
installed to extend a nailing base below the top of the
foundation (see Figure 1).
Starting Out Level
Figure 1.Siding should be
installed level. When foundations are out of level, extend the
nail base with a piece of plywood that matches the thickness of
the existing siding.