Laying out a Vinyl Siding Project
There are certain guidelines for layout on a siding job.
The rows, or courses, should line up all the way around the house, around every corner.
The courses of siding should be level. However, if the house has settled or there are parts of the house that that aren't perfectly level (such as soffits), it
might be better have the siding be parallel to the house (even if this means the siding won't be perfectly level.)
Try to avoid having thin pieces of siding under windows, doors or soffits.
Houses that change levels—such as walk-outs or split-levels—pose particular layout challenges. If you start with a full course along the bottom in one area, as the level changes up or down you may end up with less than a full course along the bottom in other areas. In this case, you'll want to pick the most prominent, visible area of the house and start with a full course there, and let the cuts fall where they may in other areas.
Cutting Vinyl Siding
One of the beauties of vinyl siding is that you can cut it with inexpensive hand tools. Large-bladed tin snips can be used to cut the pieces of siding to length. Smaller aviation snips are best for cutting trim pieces to precise lengths and shapes.
That's not to say that there aren't power tools for the job, too. A standard circular saw fitted with a fine-toothed plywood cutting blade will cut vinyl cleanly and quickly. (It works best to put the blade in the saw backwards.) Professional siding contractors usually have a power miter saw on a large stand to make cutting go faster. Amateurs can build something similar on top of a sheet of plywood or OSB with some scrap 1-by and 2-by.
Long, horizontal cuts in vinyl are made by scoring the cut with a utility knife and bending the piece back and forth until it breaks along the score mark.
Nailing Vinyl Siding
Vinyl expands and contracts with changes in temperature, so how the vinyl is secured to the house is important. It can't be secured firmly—it has to be able to move. So you don't really attach the vinyl to the house—essentially, you hang it.
You generally need galvanized roofing nails, at least 1-¼" long (or long enough to penetrate ¾" into solid wood studs.
All vinyl siding and accessories come with slots to nail through. When you nail, you don't drive the nail tight. Some manuals specify that there should be a 1/32" between the head of the nail and the siding, but there's no need to check each nail with a micrometer. If, after you've nailed it, the piece of vinyl will slide back and forth, then you're OK. If not, you've pinned it too tight to the house.