How to Nail Vinyl Siding Correctly

Updated: Feb. 28, 2023

Rule #1: Let it move

FH05SEP_NAILVIN_01-3Family Handyman
Vinyl siding will pop and crackle with every change of sunlight and temperature if nailed incorrectly. Here's how to fix the problem if you have it, and how to nail (or renail) siding so that it moves freely and silently for the life of your house.

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Diagnosing and fixing noisy siding

Photo 1: Test each piece

Each piece of siding should move back and forth at least 1/4-in. if it’s been nailed correctly. Test all the pieces on the noisy wall, and mark pieces that don’t move.

Photo 2: Unzip the siding

Unlock the course of siding above the tightly nailed piece, sliding the unlocking tool along underneath the lap.

Photo 3: Expose the nails

Lift the siding up and look for nails that have been hammered in too tightly.

vinyl siding screws

Photo 4: Cut the nails

Loosen the tight nail, or cut it with a hacksaw. Renail the siding, keeping the new nail in the center of the nailing slot and leaving it about 1/16-in. up off the siding.

If your siding sounds like rodents running inside the walls whenever the sun shines on it, you may have one or more pieces that were nailed too tightly. Vinyl siding tends to expand and contract considerably with temperature changes. For this reason, manufacturers design it to hang loosely on the nails rather than to be tightly nailed like wood siding. Learn how to replace vinyl siding.

The problem should be easy to diagnose. Simply go outside, grab the lower edges of a siding course and try to slide it back and forth (Photo 1). Manufacturers require about 1/4-in. play at both ends, so if it’s nailed properly (loosely), you should be able to slide it 1/4 to 1/2 in. If all the siding is tight, it was installed wrong and should be redone. If only a few pieces are tight and you can’t find the contractor who installed it, buy an unlocking (“zip”) tool and unfasten the section above, exposing the nails (Photos 2 and 3). Find the tight nails and cut them (Photo 4). Renail right next to the old nail, leaving at least a 1/16-in. gap between the nailhead and the vinyl to allow easy movement.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Handsaw
  • Pry bar

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1-1/4-in. roofing nails