Do It Yourself Installation: How To Install Exterior Log Look Vinyl Siding

If you are tired of painting, patching, and repairing natural siding materials on your home vinyl siding might be the answer. Save money by installing it yourself with this list of materials, tools and instructions.

Vinyl siding is still expensive and especially for the more realistic styles such as log cabin siding, Dutch lap, etc. but you can cut that cost nearly in half doing the install your self. When vinyl siding first hit the market you could only get it by having siding companies install it. Now most home improvement centers sell all the necessary supplies and materials.

The first things you will need to do is measure your house and count the number of openings you have (windows and doors) and decide if you are going to do the soffit and fascia also. If your home were 16' by 80' by 10', you would have two sides at 16 by 10 or 160 square foot per side, and two sides at 80 by 10 for 800 square foot per side giving you 160 + 160 + 800 + 800 = 1920 square foot. Now you will take the measurements of the gables, dormers, windows, and doors. If you have two gables, measuring 20' by 16' you would multiply 20' by 8' because the gable is triangular giving you 160' times 2 for 320 square foot added to 1920 for 2240 square foot. Two doors measuring 36" by 82" gives you 3' times 6.8' or 20.4 times 2 for 40.8 square foot. 8 windows measuring 30" by 48" gives you 2.5' times 4' for 10 square foot times 8 for a total of 80 square foot. Next, add these two figures together and subtract from total square footage. 2240 minus 120.8 equals 2119.2. Siding comes in two square boxes (200 square foot). So, you will divide 2119.2 by 100 = 21.192 squares of siding needed then round that off to 22 squares or 11 boxes of siding. You will measure the same way to determine the amount of soffit needed. The next thing will be to determine the number of trim pieces needed. Taking your existing measurements add and subtract to get the number of pieces of each trim needed. Siding comes in 12' or 10' lengths generally. J-channel and window-door trim comes in 12' lengths. Starter strips come in 10' lengths. Outside corners are 10' and inside generally 12'.

The next thing you must do is prepare the surface of the home. The walls must be flat. You do not want ripples and bumps on the surface because this will show up eventually on the siding panels. The best way to do this is with foam insulating boards or sheets. These can be bought in various thicknesses from 1/8 inch up.

Tools needed for installation:

* Tool belt (leather, cloth, or nylon)

* Hammer, Screw drivers (Philip and standard), Wood chisel, Pry bar and nail puller, Utility knife, and Tin snips

* Circular saw is not necessary but can be used with a plywood blade.

* Caulking gun

* Crimping tool

* Step-ladder, extension ladder, and possibly a board to stretch between two step ladders to walk on

An important thing about vinyl siding is the expansion and contraction factor. On cold days, it contracts and hot days it expands. You can have a difference of one-half inch to five-eighths of an inch. When you cut your pieces always cut them according to the weather conditions at time of installation and nail them loose so they can expand and contract.

You can begin with the fascia and soffit or with the siding. It all depends on the style of existing soffit. With some, you will put up soffit last because your finish piece of trim will be the concealing edge for the soffit.

We will begin instructing with the soffit. You will be using J-channel to support the soffit against the house. Nail your channel tight against the house. Once this is done insert cut lengths of soffit putting one to two nails per piece. All siding, soffit, and trim have nail slots. Soffit also comes in solid and vented. It is good to have a mixture of vented and solid soffit for airflow. Try to nail in the center of the slots to allow for expansion and do not nail tight. Once all soffit is in place put up the fascia pieces making sure they cover all exposed soffit ends. Use aluminum trim nails to hold in place.

Some homes have decorative trim work around windows and doors and will require special cut or formed pieces. It is up to you to decide on whether you want to try bending them your self, hiring some one to bend them and put them up, or removing them and going with straight cuts and angles using pre-made pieces.

Next, you will begin taking all things off the house that can be removed or loosened up including siding if you cannot nail to it. Now you will want to find the lowest wall to begin your siding. Put your starter strips up by measuring down from the soffit edge and chalking a line around the house. Your starter strips can usually be raised or lowered a bit to make the final pieces fit with less cutting. Sometimes you will find it necessary to put a furring strip behind the starter strips to hold them out so the first piece of siding does not bend under. Then put up your insulation and nail the outside and inside corners up on top of the insulation. You will put up the window and door trims as you get to the windows and doors.

When you begin siding, use a full length of siding if possible and with each row use a shorter piece as the starter piece to stagger the seams. Also, remember not to but siding tight into corners or channel. Snap your first pieces so they hook under the starter strip. Put a nail every 14 to 16 inches in the center of the nailing slots remembering not to nail tight but also not too loosely. You don't want the siding to buckle because of a tight nail and don't want a dimple because of a loose nail. Overlap each piece of siding about an inch. The siding comes with two factory lap cuts for this purpose. Decide which direction you want your laps. Do you want the laps visible from the street or from the backyard? Generally, folks want the laps hidden from the street.

If your home has a deck, you will need to use a piece of J-channel and possibly finish trim to go across the top of the deck. It depends on where the cut is. If the siding doesn't have to be cut horizontally to come across the deck, you need only place it in the J-channel. If you have to trim an inch or so off then putting a finish trim piece will give it more stability. It is easier to make sure you have the first rows of siding up on both sides of the deck before going across the deck. That way if the deck is not level across you can compensate for that with your cut to the siding pieces. Always use a chalk line to mark for your first siding runs and when going across decks etc.

To side under utility boxes and lines you will either trim around them or call the utility company to come out and move the box and lines when you are ready to side that area. Generally, the utility companies will do this at no charge. To side under a water faucet, remove the mounting screws and carefully pull the faucet out from the wall. If yours won't pull out, check in the basement to see if it is blocked from inside and if so loosen that clamp also so you can slide it out some. Most of the time they will easily come out an inch or so from the wall so you can place a board or insulation board behind the faucet for support of the siding. In some cases you may be able to overlap pieces at the faucet other times you will have to notch the top or bottom of the siding piece to slip under or down on the faucet.

Windows and doors will need J-channel and in some cases, you might have to remove the facing boards and butt the insulation to the J-channel. Other times your insulation board will even out the depth and facing board can be left on. If the window has a lot of caulking around it remove it you will caulk again at the end of the job. Putting a bead of caulking on the J-channel before nailing it to the sides of the windows helps give a better seal. When making your corners with J-channel you can butt lap, overlap, or miter cut. It is really your preference! When cutting the pieces for the top and bottom they must be two inches longer because of the width of the J-channel on the sides. You will have to cut the top and bottom piece in an inch at both edges and then bend that tab down to fit into the side pieces. This also works as a drip guard so water does not drip behind the channel.

Now it is time to cut around the window or door. Install your last piece below the window and take measurements at each edge and then mark that on the siding piece and cut out the notch and install the piece under or over the window or door. It is always neater to cut a piece of finish trim also and put it on the cut edge to keep it secure while resting in the channel since there will be no nails in it.

Depending upon the style of home, gable roof or hip roof you will have to install J-channel up sides of gables. If it is a hip roof you will install finishing trim and use a crimper tool to crimp last row of siding so it will catch in the trim and no fall back out with expansion and contraction.

The final step is to do all your caulking and cleanup. Saving the siding boxes to put scraps in is a good idea. You can also purchase good silicone caulking in colors to match your siding.