Vinyl siding has many benefits: It is clean, easy to maintain, and does not need to be painted. It is, however, relatively fragile. Vinyl siding turns brittle in cold weather and can break, crack, or shatter easily if it is bumped or struck. Repairing vinyl siding is an easy task for the experienced do-it-yourselfer, requiring only one special tool that can be found in many hardware stores and home centers. It is called a zip tool. It is simply a handle with a bent blade that has a J-type hook on the blade end. The hardest part of repairing vinyl siding is finding the proper color to replace the broken or damaged piece. If your vinyl siding is relatively new, this may not be a problem, especially if you have extra siding left over from the initial installation. If, however, your siding is older, you may have a good bit of trouble finding the proper color material to make your repairs. There are companies that specialize in finding color matched vinyl siding in these instances. You can also remove a piece of siding from an inconspicuous place on your building for the repair, and then replace that piece with vinyl that is as close a match as you can find.
Removing damaged vinyl siding panels
- Vinyl siding has a locking channel along the bottom, another locking channel along the top edge, and a nailing hem along the very top edge of each panel.
- Cut the siding on each side of the damaged area with a sharp razor knife and a square.
- Cut the bottom locking channel, and the upper nailing hem with a straight pair of tin snips.
- Using your fingers, pull the bottom edge of the siding panel free.
- Slide the tip of the zip tool under the locking channel along the upper edge of the siding panel you want to replace. Disengage the locking channel by pulling the zip tool down and out as you slide it along the joint. You may need to use the zip tool on the bottom locking channel too.
- Now the siding panel is held in place only by nails inserted in the nailing hem. Pull those nails and the damaged panel will come free.
Replacing the siding panels
- Cut a new section of siding that is about 3″ or 4″ longer than the damaged section.
- Trim a couple of inches off the nailing hem on the new panel.
- Trim an equal amount off the bottom locking channel on the replacement piece.
- Slide the new piece into position and push up on it to lock the bottom channel in place.
- Nail through the nailing hem into the sheathing. Be sure not to seat the nails. Leave enough room under the nail heads so the siding can expand and contract.
- With one hand, slide the zip tool under the bottom locking channel of the upper siding panel above your repaired piece. With the other hand, press the upper panel against the wall until it snaps into the upper locking channel of your repaired piece.
Be careful when working with older vinyl siding that you do not accidently crack or break surrounding panels as you lift and separate the damaged one.
Choose a warm day to do a vinyl repair. The heat will help to soften the vinyl making it somewhat less likely to be further damaged.
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