DIY Vinyl Siding Installation
Are you thinking of installing the vinyl yourself? Well, it can be done. The trick is to tackle a very small job at first. One of the best places to practice might be on a community service project. Perhaps a church in your city or town is constructing a house for Habitat for Humanity (I helped build one six years ago....it was a blast!) If so, I believe each of these houses is covered with vinyl siding. You can learn how to work with the material in the presence of experienced people and do a good deed at the same time.
Another great resource to learn about vinyl installation is the actual manufacturer. Most of them publish wonderful booklets outlining the step-by-step process. I have a past edition of Alcoa's booklet. It is easy to follow and contains great illustrations. Heartland Building Products also prints a handy guidebook. You can find these booklets at the local siding distributor in your city. Check the Yellow Pages under "Siding - Materials / Supplies".
Should you decide to tackle the job yourself, you will need some help. Vinyl siding is a two or three person job. The materials often come in lengths of 12 feet or more. On hot days, the material is soft and bends easily. Often, it takes two people to snap and lock a piece into position.
Expansion and Problems
Problems can happen after siding is installed. Vinyl grows or expands as the temperature rises. You need to account for this when you install it. For this reason, you never install it tightly between two other pieces of trim. Vinyl siding overlaps itself and each piece must be allowed to slide past the other. The instruction booklets address this topic in great detail. Do not skip these parts! You will end up with wavy siding.
The primary reason I wrote this vinyl siding column was because of a letter I received from a reader. Her vinyl siding would keep her awake at night as the wind would blow. Her installer/builder told her this was normal! I guess it was on his jobs! Guess what? It is an easy fix. You do not have to tear the siding down and start over. You can purchase a $5 tool and unlock the siding pieces from one another. Upon inspection, the pieces that rattle will be nailed too loosely. You will quickly see that the head of the nail is probably one fourth or more away from the vinyl siding. These nails need to be driven closer to the siding flange. The manufacturers want to see them 1/32 inch away from the flange.
If your siding flaps in the wind, don't despair. Call your installer or ask a professional to renail and re-lock your siding panels. It is a "breeze"!