Vinyl Siding: The Misunderstood Finish


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For the last 20 years vinyl siding has been the exterior finish of choice, ahead of wood, aluminum, and steel. Besides being virtually maintenance free, it is also chosen for its colors, style choices and durability.

Many of the myths about vinyl siding stem from its early years when cracking, fading, and buckling were part of its characteristics. Technology quickly caught up with these faults and made it a more viable product for an exterior finish.

Another false read that people may have gotten about vinyl siding is seeing a poor installation on a new or re-sided house. Installers not knowledgeable or not following the manufacturers recommended installation instructions could produce a poor job making one think its typical of all vinyl siding jobs.

One of the most common mistakes made when installing vinyl siding is not allowing room for expansion. During warm weather a 12 foot panel can expand up to 1/2 inch. Because of this, the siding is installed 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch short of J-channels and corners depending on the temperature its installed in.

Another no-no is nailing the siding tight to the wall. Vinyl siding has a slotted nailing strip along its top edge. When nailing the siding on, one must drive the nails as close to the center of the slot as possible and leave the nail heads no closer than an 1/8 inch away from the strip. This will allow the siding panel to slide left to right and expand without buckling.

Another complaint is not being able to match and replace a damaged panel. If one installs or has installed a reputable brand name vinyl siding chances are it will be available should the need arise. After installation its a good idea to keep a small piece of the siding and to write the color and brand name on the back with permanent marker.

Whether installing or having vinyl siding installed, do your homework. Research some of the different makers of vinyl siding and their products they have available. If you are installing the siding yourself, follow the manufacturers installation instructions. If you hire a contractor to do the job, ask for addresses of jobs he's done so you can see his work.

Mike Merisko (c) 2007

About the Author: Mike Merisko has been a carpenter for 26 years. Most of those years were spent in the homebuilding and remodeling industries. He was also in business as a carpentry and general contractor. While that is his forte, he also has experience in bridge building, commercial construction, and exhibit building which is how he earns his living these days. You can browse through articles by him and others at his website or visit his blog at


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