Does Vinyl Siding Expand And Contract?

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If you’re considering new siding for your home, it pays to explore the ins and outs of every siding material type available. While each one has its strong attributes, each also comes with its own set of caveats. No matter which material you select, the elements will affect it in a unique way, vinyl being no exception. With regard to changes in climate, will vinyl siding expand and contract? We checked with professional sources to bring you the answer. 

Vinyl siding will expand and contract naturally, responding to changes in outside temperatures. Higher temperatures will make the vinyl siding expand, while lower temperatures will make the pieces contract.

Now that you know that vinyl siding does expand and contract, you might have other questions or concerns about this type of siding material. We’ll be able to answer a lot of your questions ahead in this post. What makes vinyl siding bulge? Can you use screws on vinyl siding? For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead.

Contractor popping vinyl siding back in place for a customer., Does Vinyl Siding Expand And Contract?

Why Your Vinyl Siding Expands And Contracts

Vinyl siding is made using a combination of ethylene and chlorine. These organic compounds together form Polyvinyl Chloride, more commonly known as PVC. As this material has some of the same properties as plastic, it will expand during hot temperatures and contract when the temperature drops.

Changes in climate cause your vinyl siding to expand and contract, and it will do so constantly. This is perfectly okay, as the pieces of vinyl siding are made to withstand these changes in temperature. If your siding has been properly installed, this constant cycle of expansion and contraction won’t cause your siding to bulge or buckle. 

If you have ever carefully looked at a piece of unhung vinyl siding, you may have noticed oval slots along one side. These slots are for the nails to be driven through, and they have enough space around the base of the nail that allows for a little movement from the siding pieces. Correctly installed, this movement will cause zero problems.

A worker installs panels beige vinyl siding on the facade of the house

For this type of siding to be correctly installed, the installer will have to pay careful attention to how deeply he or she drives these nails into the slots. You don’t want the nail head to press too tightly against the top of the piece of vinyl siding. Correct installation also means driving the nails directly into the wooden studs underneath, which we discuss later in this post. 

A Note On Warranties

It’s essential that your vinyl siding is correctly installed. Your product warranty may be voided if your siding is damaged due to negligent or incorrect installation. This reason alone is enough to make sure it’s properly installed!

What Causes Vinyl Siding To Bulge?

An African-American man on a ladder and fixing vinyl siding on a house

If you’ve ever looked carefully at someone’s vinyl siding and seen that it is bulging out in places, you might have wondered what caused this to happen. Is it the weather? The way it was installed? Inferior materials?

The reason why vinyl siding bulges out is the result of poor installation practices. As we pointed out earlier in this post, vinyl does expand and contract with temperature changes. This movement is why the nail slots are oval. It allows for freedom for the pieces of vinyl to safely expand and contract with no issues.

If these vinyl pieces are nailed too firmly into the studs, then they won’t be able to freely shift. This will make the pieces expand, all while being held in place. This type of expansion causes buckling and warping. Once this has happened, the pieces will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

If you currently have vinyl siding and are worried if the pieces might be nailed into place too tightly, you can test it easily. Locate a piece of vinyl siding, and place the palms of each hand on it. Try to move the piece of vinyl siding back and forth. If you are able to make it shift a quarter of an inch to a half-inch freely, then your vinyl has enough room to safely expand and contract.

If you can’t move it at all, you might consider having a reputable contractor take a look. 

How Do You Keep Vinyl Siding In Place?

Vinyl siding is kept in place by being attached to the sides of the house with nails or screws. The ends of the pieces around doors, windows, and corners, are fit into deep pieces called j-channels. These j-channels are seated deep enough to allow for expansion and contraction during temperature changes. However, they’re firm and secure enough to work with the nails to keep your vinyl siding pieces in place.

Installation on facade of the house panels beige vinyl siding

Even if your vinyl siding has been properly installed, you’ll still want to routinely inspect it. Once or twice a year, make it a point to walk the perimeter of your house, carefully and thoroughly examining each piece of vinyl. You’re looking for pieces or sections that are warped or bulging, as well as pieces that are too loose. If you’ve just had a heavy wind storm, you’ll want to look at the siding as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Make this inspection part of your routine maintenance, and you’ll ensure that your vinyl will last for years to come. Another way to maintain your vinyl siding is with regular cleaning. It doesn’t have to be a weekly chore, but you should do it a few times each year. 

Click here to see this vinyl siding cleaner on Amazon.

Does Vinyl Siding Have To Be Nailed To Studs?

For the best results, you must nail the vinyl siding directly into the studs. You’ll want at least three-quarters an inch of the nail to penetrate the studs, for optimum stability. Not nailing into the studs will cause the siding to loosen, and eventually fall off the side of your house. This will no doubt cause more time and money to fix. It’s best to do things right the first time to avoid redoing a large part of a project.

Can You Put Screws In Vinyl Siding?

You may have wondered if using screws is safe for vinyl siding. Screws are a great alternative to nails, as they don’t tend to pop out of the material they are screwed into. But are they okay for your vinyl siding?

The right type of screw will work perfectly for vinyl siding, although they will add more cost to your project. If you’re set on using screws over nails, be sure to get stainless steel ones. You won’t want the screws to rust over time and stain your vinyl siding. Vinyl tipped screws are less expensive, and almost as good at avoiding oxidation. Be sure to get Phillips screw heads, as they are much easier to work with.

Like nails, the screw heads will protrude slightly from the slot in the siding that they’re screwed in to. Just like with nails, there will be a little bit of wiggle room left to right, allowing for the vinyl to expand and contract safely. 

In Closing

It’s essential for your vinyl siding to be able to expand and contract as the outside temperature rises and falls. Improper installation can result in bulging or otherwise damaged vinyl siding. So, a regular maintenance check is a great way to ensure that your siding is in good shape.

If you found this post on vinyl siding to be helpful, we think you will enjoy reading the following posts:

How To Keep Spiders And Other Bugs Off Vinyl Siding

Can You Paint Vinyl Siding On A Mobile Home? 

Is Pine Good For Exterior Siding?

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