Installation success in two steps
Now that you’ve researched and planned your exterior remodeling project, you’re ready to install your vinyl siding. Or are you? Before you begin, a bit of preparation is required to help avoid potential issues in the future.
Premium siding installed over uneven, poorly insulated surfaces, including those with wood rot and mold, is a bad idea. In fact, just covering up issues will result in costly repairs down the road. Instead of ignoring problems, take the time to thoroughly inspect, repair and prepare your home’s exterior for your beautiful new siding. It’s a big investment, so you’ll want to do the job right, from the surface up.
Prepare the walls
- Even out wavy walls and replace if needed
- Fix where eaves, windows, etc. meet walls
- Repair wood rot and remove mold
- Tape and seal joints
- Add insulation to the exterior wall studs
- Seal window and door frames
- Wrap your house with a protective barrier
Consider trim and corners
- Learn why Trim is essential
- Enhance exterior esthetic and curb appeal
- Increase value
Just because you have found a contractor you like does not mean you should simply hire them. Remember, your project’s success is in their hands and their mistakes could end up costing you a great deal of time and money. Asking the right questions and taking the time to interview various professionals is your best defense to against future problems.
A knowledgeable and qualified professional should be able to answer your questions with clarity and confidence. To help you make your decision, here’s what you want to know, how to ask the question, and the kind of responses you’re looking for:
1. How will you install the corners?
Why you want to know: A corner post must hang without being installed tightly; too-tight installation causes warping and is a key failure point in an install.
Right response: An experienced professional will have a plan, and it should include starting at the top, squaring it up and hanging it on a nail at the top of the fastening slot so it won’t bind up. They should assure it’s hung loosely, and true and square on top, center and bottom, before it’s fastened.
2. How will you handle seams?
Why you want to know: Bad seams, or lap joints, are obvious and look bad.
Right response: The installer should take time to orient overlapping seams away from principal traffic, so you don’t see into the joint. Some installers will sacrifice appearance in favor of less product waste. You want one who will choose the panels with care, and take time to lay each out randomly so the eye doesn’t focus on the seams.
3. How will you handle sealing around window and doors?
Why you want to know: If it’s done wrong, or only with trim, water can leak around and behind the siding. You won’t know until walls are damaged.
Right response: There are many ways to do it, but your professional should respond with confidence, and discuss how he will use caulk, flashing or another material to seal the windows and doors.
4. How about details — will you use mitered corners or butt joints?
Why you want to know: Mitered corners offer a true joint, are more reliable and look better.
Right response: Your installer should always attend to details, including mitering corners, and take pride in how he does it. He may even have samples to show.
5. How will you fasten panels in place? Are they using hand-nailed or air stapled?
Why you want to know: If they are randomly fastened, your panels won’t be straight, sturdy or tight and the type of fastener could corrode.
Right response: Your installer should follow an approved fastening schedule, usually with 16” spacing. If hand nailing, they should use high-grade aluminum or highly corrosion-resistant nail. If they’re stapling, they should be using a corrosion resistant fastener. They should also be able to tell you how they make sure panels run straight and the measures they take properly space the fasteners.
6. How will you finish up the top course?
Why you want to know: If there is no or poor planning, the top course may not attach properly and may eventually come loose and fall off.
Right response: They should have a plan for finishing; there are many ways to do it right. Ask if they will use trim pieces such as crown molding to make sure it is fully secured. When installed properly, the top course never falls off.
7. How will you level the siding on different wall elevations?
Why you want to know: It makes no difference in durability, but if siding panels aren’t level, the job looks bad.
Right response: The secret is that they must have a plan. Perhaps they’ll draw a level line around entire house before the first panel goes on. While it may take an extra half hour, it virtually guarantees every wall will line up. What’s their plan?
8. What about joints — will you butt the J-channel or create a blind miter?
Why you want to know: Butting is guaranteed to separate.
Right response: You want a blind miter, which is a false miter that looks like a miter but has solid vinyl trim material behind it so it will never separate when it expands or contracts. This gives the best, tightest fit — and the best look.
For even more information check out our installation guide.