There’s a lot of vinyl siding keeping weather out of cottages, and there are many reasons you may need to replace a piece of it. A falling branch could crack your siding, a nearby barbecue could melt it, or your neighbour’s potato gun could pop out a chunk.
Tip: When there’s siding damage in a prominent spot and you don’t have a few lengths saved from the original installation, you may be able to remove a piece from a less visible spot on the building to replace the damaged section. If you have to buy new siding, pay more attention to matching the profile than the colour. A paint shop can match the colour of your existing siding and provide acrylic primer and paint designed for vinyl siding.
First, you need something that can detach the damaged siding. You could use a flat screwdriver or a small pry bar, but you risk damaging surrounding pieces. An inexpensive gadget, commonly called a siding, zip, or unlocking tool and available at most hardware stores, will make the job easier.
Each piece of siding hangs from fasteners at its top edge and is locked to the piece below at its bottom edge. To remove a piece, you have to first unhook the panel above it. Slide the zip tool up underneath the bottom edge of the upper piece and pull down to unhook it. Work along the panel until the whole length is unhooked.
Next, lift the bottom edge of this upper piece up and away from the wall so you have access to the nails that secure the lower piece. It’s easier to reach the nails with a pry bar, but a claw hammer will work in a pinch. After pulling the nails, slide the piece of siding down to unhook it from the piece below.
Cut the replacement piece to length. Measure between the insides of any trim pieces into which it fits (such as J channel) and subtract 1/2" to allow for expansion (subtract up to 3/4" if you are working in weather below 5°C). The secret to a good job is to allow the siding to expand without buckling.
To replace the piece, simply work it into the trim channel on either end, and push up on the bottom edge to lock it to the piece below. Then, without stretching it, drive galvanized roofing nails into the nailing slots at the top edge at 16" intervals. Centre the fasteners in the slots, and don’t drive them all the way home—there should be a gap of about 1/32" between the head and the vinyl. Remember, you’re hanging the siding, not nailing it down.
The last step is to lock the upper piece to the one you just hung. Using the zip tool again, start at one end, hook the lower edge of the upper piece, and pull it down so that you can clip it around the locking flange of the replacement piece. Again, work along the length of the panel until the whole section is locked together.