15-minute fix with a zip tool
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Photo 1: A zip tool is the key
Slide the zip tool along the bottom
edge to release the vinyl siding from
the piece below it.
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Photo 2: Remove nails
Slip a flat bar behind the vinyl siding
and lever out the nails.
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Photo 3: Install new siding
Install the replacement piece and
hook the lip of the upper siding piece
into the slot to lock it into place.
Vinyl siding is tough, but not indestructible.
If a falling branch or
a well-hit baseball has cracked a
piece of your siding, you can make it as
good as new in about 15 minutes with a
$5 zip tool (available at any home center)
and a replacement piece. It's as simple as
unzipping the damaged piece and snapping
in a new one.
Starting at one end of the damaged
piece, push the end of the zip tool up
under the siding until you feel it hook the
bottom lip (Photo 1). Pull the zip tool
downward and out to unhook the bottom
lip, then slide it along the edge, pulling the
siding out as you go. Then unzip any
pieces above the damaged piece. Hold
them out of the way with your elbow
while you pry out the nails that hold the
damaged piece in place (Photo 2).
Slide the replacement piece up into
place, pushing up until the lower lip locks
into the piece below it. Drive 1-1/4-in.
roofing nails through the nailing flange.
Space them about every 16 in. (near the
old nail holes). Nail in the center of the
nailing slot and leave about 1/32 in. of
space between the nail head and the siding
so the vinyl can move freely. Don't
nail the heads tightly or the siding will
buckle when it warms up.
With the new piece nailed, use the zip
tool to lock the upper piece down over it.
Start at one end and pull the lip down,
twisting the tool slightly to force the leading
edge down (Photo 3). Slide the zip
tool along, pushing in on the vinyl just
behind the tool with your other hand so it
snaps into place.
It's best to repair vinyl in warm weather.
In temperatures below freezing it becomes
less flexible and may crack.
The downside of replacing older vinyl
siding is that it can be hard to match the
style and color, and siding rarely has any
identifying marks. The best way to get a
replacement piece is to take the broken
piece to vinyl siding distributors in your
area and find the closest match. If the old
vinyl has faded or you can't find the right
color, take the broken piece to a paint
store and have the color matched. Paint
the replacement piece with one coat of
top-quality acrylic primer followed by
acrylic house paint—acrylic paint will
flex with the movement of the vinyl.