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What Nails Should I Use For Vinyl Siding?

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It's important to use the right nails for installing vinyl siding. Not only do you need the correct type of nail, but you need to know the best size to use for the job. But what is the right type and size? We have researched the best nails to use when installing vinyl siding, and in this post, we will go over them.

The best nails for installing vinyl siding are galvanized steel, aluminum, or any other type of corrosion-resistant nail. The ideal nail lengths to use are between 1 1/4 inches or up to 2 1/2 inches.

The shank of the nail should be about 1/8 inch, and the head should be at least 5/16 of an inch. Nails of this size will easily penetrate the vinyl material and any typical undercoating.

Galvanized nails are recommended because a home's exterior is constantly exposed to various elements. And the longer the nails last, the longer the vinyl will hold up.

These long thicker nails will also prevent the siding from living off when strong winds blow against the home. Continue reading to learn more about vinyl siding and the best nails to use.

galvanized nails and an old hammer on a wooden desktop, What Nails Should I Use For Vinyl Siding?

Choosing Nails for Vinyl Siding

When installing vinyl siding, the fasteners must be durable, thick, and long. Building codes also recommend certain nails for your locality. For example, suppose you live in a region where the temperatures reach below zero during the winter. In that case, the chances are that there may be more specific requirements for fasteners and their ability to ward off rust.

If you talk to most roofers or contractors, they'll likely state that they use galvanized nails or what is known as "roofing nails." Roofing nails have longer shanks and a flat nail head to help secure vinyl and roofing materials in place. They're also super sharp, which means you don't have to work too hard to nail them into the roofing and siding materials.

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

Some contractors even recommend avoiding aluminum nails, as they may not hold up as well as galvanized nails. In some cases, they have been known to bend easier and faster than galvanized fasteners, which are made from steel.

How many nails per square of vinyl siding?

Man washing vinyl siding by hand with brush

It's best to estimate the square footage of the vinyl siding to determine approximately how many nails you need. You'll also want to consider the space for the nails. On average, you'll need to install about 115 nails per square [or 100 square feet]. 

How to measure for vinyl siding?

Calculating the vinyl siding needed for your home can help you tremendously when it's time to buy materials such as nails, sheathing, screws, and other fasteners. Let's take a look at how to do it:

  1. Start by measuring the width and height of each side where the vinyl will be placed on the home. Then multiply them by one another to get the total square footage.
  2. Next, measure any areas not included directly on the siding, such as dormers, gables, and eaves. For triangle-shaped areas, measure the base of the triangle all the way to the top and then multiply it by half of the base's length.
  3. Then, go back and measure the width and height of every door, window, and any other area that isn't covered by the siding. If you can't reach either of these areas, you can use a simple calculation of 20 square footage for each door and 15 square feet for the windows.
  4. Then, add these areas' square footage with what you calculated for the siding and other areas.
  5. Next, subtract the square footage of any uncovered areas from the previous calculation and then divide this number by 100 to get the total number of squares of siding that you need for the home.

If you run into any trouble, check out an online siding estimate calculator, such as this one

Tips for Measuring Siding Correctly

dark vinyl siding, real estate background

Measuring siding for the first time can be tricky. So here are a few techniques that you can use for extra accuracy if you plan to perform this task yourself.

Make things easy

For easy calculating, divide more oversized or irregular areas into basic smaller shapes. It's best to stick with super simple calculations. If you need to slice a small rectangular portion out of a larger triangular shape, do whatever feels most comfortable for the measurement.

Measure doors and windows first

If it's easier, measure any door or window areas first. And if you have any repairs for these areas, always complete them before measuring so that you don't over or under-measure the new siding that will be needed (damaged framework can often result in bigger measurements).

Account for errors

Always add anywhere from 5% to 10% extra for the siding to account for any measurement mistakes or damage. You can always use the additional siding for future repairs or strips that were cut incorrectly.

Make a material list

Be sure to make a list of all materials needed for the project, such as trim, fasteners, new insulation, sheathing, etc. And note that in some cases, you may not be aware of the specific materials or tools you need until you're performing the project.

Mistakes to Avoid When Measuring Vinyl Siding

Construction workers installing vinyl siding facade on scaffolding system.

If you're taking on the task of installing your vinyl siding, here are a few mistakes that are worth noting. Avoiding these common pitfalls can save you time, money, and the hassle of having to redo any work.

Not ordering enough siding

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when installing their vinyl siding is underestimating how much siding they all need. As stated earlier, it's best to add anywhere from 5 to 10% to the square footage to allow for potential issues with the siding.

Even if you measure everything correctly, you may unknowingly order siding that is more prone to breakage than you anticipated, or you may cut several pieces incorrectly, resulting in using more than you needed originally. It's always best to order more than required than too little.

Not measuring correctly

One of the most challenging parts of installing siding for the first time is measuring correctly. It's also recommended that you measure the house on several different occasions to ensure that you haven't missed any areas or measured incorrectly.

Also, pay special attention to large or irregular-shaped areas, as they can account for miscalculations. Be careful how you measure these areas, and don't be afraid to slice them up into smaller sections to make them easier to measure.

Not considering the extra or additional cost

Another common mistake is not considering the additional costs that it will take to install the siding. These costs can often go unnoticed by new timers.

They often include sealant or caulk, trim, siding shears, flashing, sheathing, special tools, and other miscellaneous items. It's best to set aside a small budget for tools and materials that you may need to purchase at the last minute.

Buy siding shears on Amazon.

Can you hammer a nail into vinyl siding?

Yes. The nails used for vinyl siding make it easier to penetrate the surface. However, most experienced contractors are roofers who typically use a nail gun to attach the siding to the home. This saves you a ton of time with the project, making it less laborious.

However, if you choose to hammer the nails into the siding manually, be sure to drive the nails straight and level to prevent any buckling or distortion of the siding.

Find this nail gun on Amazon.

How tight do you nail vinyl siding?

It's best to leave 1/32-inch of space between the nail head and the top of the siding. You don't want the siding to be too tightly pressed against the nail, as this can cause the siding to buckle with weather and humidity changes.

It's also best to leave additional space for any accessories that you plan to add to the siding, such as window covers or exterior lights.

Find these exterior lights on Amazon.

How far apart should nails be on vinyl siding?

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

Most contractors recommend spacing the nails about 1 1/16 inches apart (from the nailhead). This will allow the vinyl siding room to expand and contract, and it'll prevent any dimpling and buckling in the siding.

Wrapping Things Up

Installing vinyl siding for the first time can be a fairly challenging task. It's important to use the long galvanized nails and space them correctly.

Doing so will prevent buckling, dents, and other issues that can come with badly installed siding. If you run into any problems, it may be best to reach out to an experienced roofer for guidance.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Should A Garage Door Match Siding Or Trim?

Should You Replace Windows Or Siding First?