How to Repair Vinyl Siding

Fixing damaged siding doesn't have to be expensive. Follow these steps to make a small patch or replace a panel yourself.

house exterior

Keeping up with siding repairs is a guaranteed way to prolong its longevity. And luckily, most repairs are fairly simple to make. This piece walks you through two common projects: patching and replacing panels.

If a vinyl piece has come apart from its neighbor, the solution is often to simply push it back up until it locks in place. But if you need to replace a vinyl panel or a part of a panel, check your garage or basement to see whether the installer left extra pieces for repairs. Otherwise, take a sample to a siding supplier and look for a close match.

Even if you find an exact replacement, the siding on your walls may have faded, so that the new pieces will be noticeably darker. If the repair is on a highly visible portion of the house, you may want to remove a piece from a less-visible part of the house (perhaps in the back or behind a bush) and use that as the patch—then install the recently purchased piece in the less-visible location.

If many of the pieces are coming apart or buckling, they may have been installed with nails driven too tightly. Nails should be loose, so the material can expand and contract. If that's the case, you may need to remove the siding from an area and reinstall it.

You'll need less than an hour to make most repairs, and the only required skills are simple cutting and measuring. Before you begin, check the siding closely for further damage and to determine how large a section needs to be replaced.

What You Need

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Zipper tool
  • Flat pry bar
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Caulking gun
  • Replacement siding panels
  • Butyl caulk (or gutter caulk)
  • Duct tape
  • Materials for bracing a patch temporarily

How to Patch a Small Area

Step 1: Cut Around the Damage


Use a utility knife to cut around the damaged area. If possible, leave at least 2 inches of siding along the top edge of the damaged piece. Use a zipper tool to remove the cutout.

Step 2: Cut a Patch


Use a square and a utility knife to cut a patch piece that is about 4 inches wider than the area you cut out. Slice off the nailing strip or upper part of the patch.

Step 3: Test Patch


Mark and cut away the side portions of the snap-in flange. Test the patch for fit; it should just slip under the piece above, once it has been snapped into place at the bottom.

Step 4: Apply Caulk


Apply a generous bead of butyl caulk all around the cutout. Press the patch into place and push it up to snap into place. Use a temporary brace, or duct tape, to hold the patch in place for about a day. Remove the brace or tape once the caulk has dried.

How to Replace a Panel Section

Step 1: Pry Out the Panel


Use a zipper tool to pry out the panel above the one you want to remove. Slip shims all along the disassembled joint.

Step 2: Cut Through the Panel


Use a square and a knife to cut through the panel on one, or both, sides of the damage. Cut carefully so you do not damage the building paper underneath.

Step 3: Remove the Damage


Use a flat pry bar to remove the nails and the damaged section of siding. Cut a replacement panel that is 4 inches longer than the damaged section.

Step 4: Apply Caulk


Apply generous beads of butyl (or gutter) caulk on the adjacent siding, about 1/2 inch from the edges of the cutout area.

Step 5: Press in Replacement Panel


Press the replacement panel into the caulk and slide it up. Press on the bottom to snap it in place.

Step 6: Check for a Seal


Remove the shims and use a zipper tool to snap it onto the flange of the replacement panel. Press the panel into the caulk, making sure that it seals at all points.

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