Siding is installed in order to protect your home from the outside elements, raise your home’s energy efficiency, and it even looks great too. Although a lot of good comes from residential siding, there are also a lot of reasons it might need to be replaced, such as:
- Cracks and dents
- Mold or mildew
- Missing siding boards
- Storm damage
- Old age
When your siding is damaged in a storm, reaches the end of its lifespan, or your style aesthetics change, you might be inclined to install new siding. With that said, many homeowners wonder if they can tackle a DIY siding replacement project or if hiring a professional siding company will be preferred to complete the job properly.
Fortunately, if you’re unsure of the best course of action for your own home, this step-by-step guide should help you decide if going the DIY route is right for you.
Start Your DIY Siding Replacement Job
You can’t start your siding project without gathering the proper tools and materials first. An experienced DIYer should have most of the required tools on hand without having to run out to the hardware store or a big-box home improvement center like Lowe’s or Home Depot, so that’s something to consider when deciding whether you can handle a DIY siding replacement or if you should call a siding contractor.
These are some of the basic tools you’ll need for installing new siding:
- Fine-tooth saw
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
- Power saw
- Utility knife
- Tin snips
- Safety equipment (goggles, rubber-soled shoes, hardhat, etc.)
In addition, you’ll need to purchase materials aside from just the siding panels that people will see from the road or sidewalk, such as:
- Utility trim
- Starter strips
- Drip caps/flashing
- J-channel pieces
- F-channel pieces
Working with a professional siding company will often unlock bulk-purchasing discounts on the materials listed above, but with DIY projects, you have to buy all of these items yourself. You’ll also want to have items like a zip lock tool, nail hole slot punch, and snap lock punch on hand to simplify and speed up the process of replacing your siding.
Steps to Install Vinyl Siding Systems
Once you’ve compiled all the tools necessary to complete your new siding installation, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty of the installation process. Follow the steps listed in each section below to ensure everything goes smoothly during your siding replacement project:
1. Removing Old Siding
First and foremost, you’ll need to remove your existing siding boards in order to apply the new ones. Removing your current siding will be easy, but you still want to use caution so that you don’t disturb or damage anything underneath. With enough care and ease, materials like vinyl siding can be removed and reused with virtually no damage.
Like vinyl siding, most siding materials must be installed from bottom to top (think ground to roof). For this reason, you’ll remove the old siding in the opposite direction: top to bottom.
Start by gently prying up the top siding panel right where it starts overlapping with the one below. This allows you to unhook the panel and slide it off to expose the underlying nails.
Next, use a nail puller or hammer to take each nail out carefully, and repeat this process all the way down each panel. After that’s all done, you can remove any remaining trim around windows and doors.
2. Installing Soffit and Fascia
Now that you have a blank slate, it’s best to move onto the soffit and fascia before tackling the main siding walls. So, what are soffit and fascia in the first place? To help you remember, think of the FASCia as what’s facing the front of the house and the sOFFit as what’s on the bottom side of your roof. So, fascia = face, and soffit = bottom.
Although siding is installed from bottom to top, we’ll start at the top to install the j-channel. This is the piece that’s nailed into your house itself to hold the siding in place. Here’s how to prep your home’s soffit and fascia for a siding installation:
- Press the j-channel up to the inner edge of the fascia board tightly. This is the farthest part of the soffit from your house.
- Nail the j-channel into the soffit, placing a nail into the center of each slot. Don’t nail anything down too tightly to allow room for expansion as temperatures fluctuate.
- If your soffit wraps around the corner of your house, you’ll need to install two back-to-back j-channels from the corner of the house to the roof’s corner. This helps keep siding in place wherever it might need to change direction. Doing this requires additional cutting on both the siding and j-channel pieces to ensure a precise fit.
- Once the soffit is appropriately placed, you can remove your gutters to slide in and secure the fascia cover. Carefully nail into the fascia every three-ish feet and make any necessary cuts to customize the flexible material to fit your home. Replace the gutters so you can move on to the next step in your DIY siding installation.
3. Siding on the Exterior Walls
With the soffit and fascia taken care of, you can start tackling the fun stuff: install the siding to your home’s exterior walls! Here’s what to do:
- Prep the exterior walls by removing or loosening lights and detaching address plates, railings, and other features that might fall into your line of fire during the installation.
- Carefully measure each wall’s height, length, and width and decide where you’ll want to place seams since you’ll have to cut short other pieces besides your starter siding panels. The less visible the seam, the better your siding will look, so take time to decide where the cut edge of each panel will meet. Most contractors will lay panels on side walls with the cut edge underneath, so it’s not seen from the front yard, while street-side walls should be layered in the direction with the highest levels of foot or vehicular traffic.
- Next, install a starter strip wherever you’ve found will be the best fit. Mark this spot along every wall you are siding, so it is even and level everywhere. Then, install some plywood underneath to hold up the bottom siding and prevent it from lying flat against your house.
- Now you can nail down a 1/2 inch thick foam sheathing at every corner and nail corner molding and trim pieces over that. This helps each row of siding line up perfectly.
- Continue nailing the sheathing down along the first few feet of your exterior walls to further prep for installation. This provides a nice flat surface and enables you to add more insulation to your home.
- To install your first row, snap the first siding piece in place beneath the starter strip and begin nailing it down every 14-18 inches. Again, use the center slots as a guide for your nails, and give enough room for expansion as we did with the soffit.
- Keep overlapping the various lengths of siding about an inch over the previous one and nail it in place. Remember which way you want your siding seams to flow, and stay on top of it throughout the installation to ensure everything looks smooth and uniform from the street.
4. Avoiding Obstructions
You’ll need to utilize your tin snips, or a circular saw to cut your siding panels down and apply utility trim to fit around any obstructions perfectly. For example, you might need to exercise extra caution and precision around items like:
- Decks and balconies
- External conduits
- Faucets and spigots
- Utility lines
- Outdoor lighting fixtures
You can use a firm foam backing or plywood to create a base around these obstructions, then apply the j-channels, siding, and any drip caps that might be required, and add durable caulking or household cement around the area.
5. Working Around Window Trim
Of course, you’ll also need to consider any windows and doors that might meet the siding. Remove any caulk around the window or door to ensure each siding panel lies flat before measuring and cutting your channels and trim to match the length of the window or door sides. Leave a bit of extra material to ensure the cut edges will meet, and you can trim off any excess after the siding is secured.
6. Meeting the Soffit
As we said, you’ll be working from the ground up when installing siding, so the last step is to join your new siding to the soffit near your roof. To do this, you’ll stop adding panels just below the last row to install the utility channel or trim.
Once that’s done, you can cut down your final panel to fit the smaller space exactly and attach it using either 3D painted nails or a specialized crimping tool to secure the panel with aluminum fasteners every 12 to 16 inches.
7. Cleaning Up
Upon completing your siding installation, it’s time to clean up. If you reused your siding material, you won’t have much to worry about, but if that’s not the case, you could have added costs associated with clean-up.
That’s because cities only collect bulk items or construction waste sporadically. Instead, you might need to rent a roll-away dumpster and hire professional waste disposal services to ensure your old siding is removed and discarded correctly.
Take time to reorganize your tools, inspect around your home’s foundation for anything that fell, and pick up all of the old or broken siding panels remaining after your project. Once your yard is put back together, your home’s exterior will look even more beautiful than it ever has before.
Pros and Cons of a DIY Siding Replacement ⚖️
Now that you know how the process of installing siding is supposed to go, let’s see if you actually have what it takes to tackle this project. Look at some pros and cons to decide if you can go the DIY route or if you’re better off reaching out to an experienced siding contractor.
✅ Pros ✅
- You’ll save money (for the most part)
- You can work around your own schedule
- You can tackle smaller repairs as they arise
- It’s ideal for an experienced DIYer
- You’ll feel proud of the finished product
- Minor mistakes can become bigger and costlier issues
- It’s not a job you can tackle alone (two or more people are typically required)
- You’ll need working knowledge of the kind of siding you’re installing and specialized tools
- Making mistakes is much easier than finding, identifying, and fixing them
- Any project that requires a ladder and power tools can pose a hazard
- You could cause more damage to other parts of your home’s exterior
Overall, if you don’t have a solid handle on how to install siding or lack the special tools and knowledge to succeed at a DIY siding replacement job, you’re better off getting help from someone who specializes in home siding. Search for a local siding contractor in your area to complete the project properly the first time to avoid any added costs and unnecessary frustration.
Look to the Professionals for Your Next Siding Project
Are you debating between a DIY siding replacement and hiring a professional to take on the project? If you’re feeling even an ounce of uncertainty about your own abilities, don’t take the risk and make an expensive mistake that will end up costing you more.
Instead, opt for help from an experienced siding contractor so you can guarantee the job gets done right. Contact Dreamworx Exteriors to learn more about our siding services and start your new siding installation today.