How to Install Vinyl Siding

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 13, 2024

If you’re looking to refresh your home’s exterior, consider replacing your old siding and installing new vinyl siding. Vinyl siding provides great curb appeal and adds resale value to your home.

While you can hire a professional to install vinyl siding, you can complete this do-it-yourself (DIY) project on your own with the right tools and knowledge. In this guide, we’ll review the materials you’ll need and provide a step-by-step process for installing vinyl siding.

Why Choose Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding is a popular material for homes of every style, size, and region. The material is versatile and produced in a variety of styles, such as Dutch lap, beaded seam, traditional lap siding, shiplap, shake-style, and more. The material is extruded during the production process so it can be made in virtually any style, texture, color, or size.

Many homeowners prefer vinyl siding because it’s durable and cost-effective. The initial material cost is more affordable than other materials, such as stone or wood. It’s also durable enough to last through years of sun exposure, hot and cold seasons, and heavy rains. Insulated vinyl siding can even help reduce your energy bill by limiting drafts and energy loss.

Vinyl siding also requires little maintenance. You may need to clean it periodically with mild soap and water and repaint it every 10 years.

Alternatives to vinyl siding include wood, brick, stone, and metal. These siding materials are less popular because of their costly material and installation costs. Some neighborhood homeowners associations (HOAs) will also have stricter rules regarding these materials.

How Long Does It Take to Install Vinyl Siding?

Depending on the size and complexity of your home, it could take seven to 14 days to install new siding. If you’re entering the rainy season, wait to schedule the project for dry weather; if not, water could get trapped under the siding and cause warping or wood rot.

Necessary Tools and Materials

Successful vinyl siding installation projects require a variety of tools and specialty materials. Make sure you have the following tools before you begin:

Along with these tools, you’ll need to purchase the siding materials. This includes the starter strip for the first row of siding, the inside and outside corner posts to fit your home’s exterior layout, and the proper volume of siding panels. Depending on your home’s design, you may need window or door framing pieces and matching soffit and fascia boards. Additionally, make sure you have plenty of roofing nails on hand—these are fabricated and coated to be corrosion-resistant.

Preparations Before Installing Vinyl Siding

Here are a few things to do before installing vinyl siding:

  1. Check signs for damage: Check your current siding for signs of moisture, rot, and damage. If you notice moist areas or other signs of damage, remove the affected materials or have a professional inspect the area.
  2. Measure your home and select siding: Measure the square footage of your home’s exterior that you plan on covering with new siding. Choose vinyl siding based on its longevity, style, price, and color.
  3. Let your materials breathe: Unbundle the siding after it arrives at your home. You should also let it sit in a moisture-free environment for 10 to 14 days to prevent movement.

The Installation Process

Once you’ve gathered your materials and scheduled time for the installation, you’re ready to get started. Below, we’ll review how to remove old siding and install new vinyl siding.

1. Remove the Old Siding

The process for removing old siding will vary depending on what material already exists. If your home has vinyl siding or horizontal siding panels, start at the top of the wall and work your way down.

  1. Unzip the bottom edge of the topmost piece of siding. This requires a specific zipping tool for vinyl siding, or you can use a utility knife if the siding has caulk or is held down with a bead of adhesive.
  2. Remove the nails holding the top edge of the panel in place. Do your best to remove the nails without cracking the old siding, as this will make cleanup easier. It also minimizes the risk of damage to the underlayers of material, such as insulation or wood.
  3. Remove gutters and downspouts, as well as any other installations (such as exterior lights) that the siding will sit under.

2. Install House Wrap

This step is optional but highly recommended for every property. Under your home’s original siding sits a house wrap or a thin layer of material that acts as a moisture barrier and insulation. If you’re replacing your home’s siding due to water damage or degradation over the years, consider removing the house wrap and installing new material.

Install the material in horizontal rows. Begin at the foundation level, and attach each course with plastic-capped nails. Create at least a foot of overlap between the layers and around corners so there’s no risk of moisture getting past the barrier. Make sure the house wrap is pulled taut before you nail it into place. Once the whole exterior is covered, use seam tape over all edges to secure the house wrap.

3. Create Chalk Lines

Chalk lines allow you to mark out level lines around the entire perimeter of your home so you have a laid-out pattern for installing your vinyl siding. This helps ensure every row is straight and the finished product looks seamless. Follow these steps to create chalk lines around your home:

  1. Find the lowest point of your home or wall that will have new siding installed.
  2. Partially drive a nail just slightly above this point and attach a chalk line to it. From there, go to the corner of that same wall, hold the chalk line level, and snap it against the side of the wall. It should leave behind a clear, straight line.
  3. Continue to create that chalk line around the entire bottom row of the exterior walls to which you’re adding siding. This may be continuous if your whole home has siding, or you might move section by section.

4. Install the Starter Strip

Place the starter strip along the bottom of the wall, with the installation nail slots oriented along the top. Partially tap nails through the holes and into the wall approximately every 12 inches across the length of the strip. Then, install the next starter strip, leaving approximately a 1/2-inch gap between the two strips.

Continue this process until the entire bottom has starter strip in place. Make sure the nails aren’t pushing the strips tight against the wall—the starter strip should be able to move slightly.

5. Place the Inside and Outside Corner Posts

Before you start installing the siding panels, install the corner posts. These V-shaped posts cover the exterior and interior corners of your home.

Hold the corner post in place against a corner of your house, and make sure the vertical sides are level. While holding the post in place, snap a chalk line on either side to act as a guide as you work.

Next, nail the corner post in place from the top, and continue driving nails into the trim every 12 inches. This will hold the trim in place while allowing it to move just enough for you to press the horizontal siding panels into place under it.

6. Install the Siding Panels

Take the first siding panel, and place it on top of the starter strip. Slide it upward until you feel the bottom lip lock into place against the top of the starter strip. Once it’s engaged and level, nail roofing nails through the top slots, placing one nail within 4 inches of the start and end of the slots and approximately every 16 inches across the length of the panel. Run your zipping tool along the bottom edge to firmly slot the panel in place.

Continue this process until the entire first row is complete. Then, start the second row using the same process: Slide the siding panel against the previous row’s panel until the lower lip engages, then nail it into place.

This stage requires the most time and effort. Continue until all of the siding is in place, and check it intermittently to ensure it’s still level.

Once the siding is installed, nail any trim pieces, such as the undersill trim, into place around your windows and doors.

When to Call a Professional

Some homeowners may opt to hire a professional vinyl siding installation service instead of handling the job on their own. This makes the project much more convenient, ensures the job is completed to code, and mitigates the risk that the siding will be installed crooked.

We recommend calling a professional if you encounter the following challenges:

Even if you’ve started the project, it’s never too late to call a professional to handle some or all of the remaining work.

Our Recommendation

Installing vinyl siding around your home is a cost-effective option for refreshing its exterior, protecting it from the elements, and giving it more curb appeal. If you have experience with DIY home improvement projects, consider installing the siding yourself. We recommend reserving several days for the project so you don’t feel rushed and can focus on the details.

If you don’t want to install your own siding, we recommend requesting quotes from at least three reliable contractors. Compare the services and prices of each company before moving forward with your final decision.

Installing Vinyl Siding FAQ

What is the most common mistake when installing vinyl siding?

The most common mistake when installing vinyl siding is to nail it too tightly to the wall. Only partially drive the nails into place so there’s room for the siding to move and lock.

Can I install vinyl siding myself?

You can install vinyl siding yourself. However, it’s best to have someone else help you carry any heavy loads.

Do you put anything under vinyl siding?

Put a house wrap under vinyl siding. This thin material is a moisture barrier and provides some insulation and protection from the elements for the insulation battens inside your walls. Cover the entire surface of your home’s exterior under the siding, and use sealing tape to seal the edges.

How long does vinyl siding last?

Vinyl siding lasts between 20 and 40 years. The life span of your vinyl siding will depend on the quality of the material, your area’s climate, and the maintenance it receives.