Repairing Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the most fragile of all siding materials.  In extreme heat, it can melt, and in freezing temperatures it is prone to impact damage because it becomes brittle.  To save yourself a lot of money by hiring a technician to do repairs, we discuss in this article ways to repair vinyl siding on your own.

What You Need:

In newer homes, you often have siding left over from a previous job.  If not, take a sample of the siding to a dealer and get replacements. Here’s the tools needed:

  • Zip tool to unlock panels
  • Pry bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Galvanized nails
  • Tin snips

Remove The Damaged Siding

Vinyl siding installs with an interlocking system, and is originally installed with nails driven through elongated holes in the nail hem.  On installation, the nails should have been driven with a 1/32" gap between the nail head and the siding.  A zip tool, a device with a specially shaped curved blade, is used to remove the damaged siding.  Here’s how it works:

  • Wedge the curved end of the tool underneath the overlapping panel, and hook onto the buttlock, which is the portion that curves under.  Look for a loose spot in the panel to get the tool positioned properly.
  • With the tool, pull downward to expose the nail row in the siding you wish to replace.
  • With the pry bar, remove the nails from the siding directly above the damaged area, which should now be floating free of the house and nail hem exposed.

Making The Repair

  • With the tin snips, cut out the damaged area of the vinyl siding.  Take care here – you don’t want to damage the upper and lower edges of the siding adjacent to the piece you are working on. 
  • Measure the area that needs to be replaced.  When you make your measurement on the replacement siding, you want to allow at least 3 extra inches to insure that the siding overlaps at least 1 ½ inches. 
  • After the measurement is made, transfer it to the new siding panel.  Using the carpenters square to insure a straight 90 degree angle, mark the cut.
  • Make the cut with the utility knife, using a new blade to insure a clean cut.
  • Trim back the nail hem on the replacement panel about 2 inches each end, again using the utility knife.  Doing so will insure that the panel will fit correctly in the space removed from the old siding.
  • Next, slide the replacement panel into place, insuring that you snap the buttlock and top lock snap into place. Push into place.
  • Nail replacement panel in place, locating the nails about 12 inches apart, and insuring that they are not driven all the way in.  Nails should penetrate the framing or furring strip by at least ¾ inch.
  • With the zip tool, insure that the replacement panel is locked into place

Replacing damaged siding is relatively easy.  Save money by doing the repairs yourself.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.