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nails for vinyl siding

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  • nails for vinyl siding

    which nails should be used to attach vinyl siding: galvanized or electro-galvanized? Also, why use 1-1/2 nails, as I've seen recommended, when most of the time the sheathing is 1/2 to 7/16 inch...are you supposed to hit the studs everytime (wouldn't that be hard when the sheathing is covered with house wrap?. And, are there any special tricks to keep the nails spaced fromt he vinyl by 1/16 inch or so?

  • #2
    Re: nails for vinyl siding

    Your best bet is to use hot dipped galvanized roofing nails. The electro-plated nails are easier to handle and work with, but they are more likely to rust. Keep in mind that the siding has weep holes drilled in it becasue moisture and vapor do get behind the vinyl. Hammer the nails as you normally would, but on the last hit, allow the bottom edge of the hammer head to hit the hem lock. That will prevent the hammer from driving the nail home. It takes practice to get used to, and you need to be careful in the winter so that you don't crack the siding.

    Vinyl Siding Institute


    • #3
      Re: nails for vinyl siding

      According to manufacturers' instructions, nailing vinyl siding into the sheathing, without hitting the studs, is not acceptable. Vinyl siding should be nailed at 16 inches on center, into the studs. Most manufacturers require that nails penetrate at least 3/4 inch into a nailable substrate.


      • #4
        Re: nails for vinyl siding

        Hi Bob,

        Hmmm, sort of a Materials and Techniques or Exterior Details forum question isn't it? To tell you the truth, I've never attached so much as 1" of that stuff. So, here it is, straight from the Vinyl Siding Institute's VINYL SIDING INSTALLATION GUIDE, which you can download from their site:

        FASTENER CHOICES(Page 13)

        Use aluminum, galvanized steel, or other corrosion resistant nails, staples, or screws when installing vinyl siding. Aluminum trim pieces require aluminum or stainless steel fasteners.


        - Nail heads should be 5/16" minimum in diameter. Shank should be 1/8" in diameter. Minimum nail lengths are as follows:

        - 1-1/2" for general use

        - 2" for residing

        - 2-1/2" minimum for going through siding with backerboard

        - 1" to 1-1/2" for trim

        Screw Fasteners

        Screw fasteners can be used if the screws do not restrict the normal expansion and contraction movement of the vinyl siding panel on the wall. Screws must be centered in the slot with a minimum 1/32" space between the screw head and the vinyl. Screws should be:

        - Size #8, truss head or pan head.

        - Corrosion-resistant, self-tapping sheet metal type.


        Vinyl siding can expand and contract 1/2" or more over a 12'6" length with changes in temperature. Whether using a nail, screw or staple to fasten the siding, the following basic rules must be followed:

        - Make sure the panels are fully locked along the length of the bottom, but do not force them up tight when fastening.

        - Do not drive the head of the fastener tightly against the siding nail hem. Leave a minimum of 1/32"(the thickness of a dime) between the fastener head and the vinyl. TIGHT NAILING, SCREWING, OR STAPLING WILL CAUSE THE VINYL SIDING TO BUCKLE WITH CHANGES IN TEMPERATURE.

        - When fastening, start in the center of the panel and work toward the ends.

        - Center the fasteners in the slots to permit expansion and contraction of the siding.

        - Drive fasteners straight and level to prevent distortion and buckling of the panel.

        - Space the fasteners a maximum of 16" apart for the horizontal siding panels, every 12" for the vertical siding panels, and every 8" to 10" for the accessories. Start fastening vertical siding and corner posts in the otp of the uppermost slots to hold them in position. Place all other fasteners in the center of the slots.


        If staples are being used instead of nails or screws, them ust be:

        - Not less than 16-guage semi-flattened to an elliptical cross-section.

        - A minimum of 1" long

        - Wide enough in the crown to allow free movement of the siding (1/32" away from the nailing hem.)

        It sounds like Fred is well aquainted with installing this stuff. I'll defer any other comments in favor of his superior experience with the product.

        ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

        Mike O'Handley

        The Vinyl Siding Institute


        • #5
          Re: nails for vinyl siding

          i was going to say the best choice is aluminum nails( yeah i know spelled it wrong )shoot me,but mike pretty well answered your question.or rather the vinyl institute did.the trick i use i have an estwing hammer and the lenght of it is approx 16 so usually 98% hit a stud


          • #6
            Re: nails for vinyl siding

            Certainteed makes their siding with an interesting feature that allows the nail slots to align in a pattern of 16" on center. They call the feature studfinder. It really works well. Check with a siding dealer to allow him to show you the feature. How simple and more importantly it makes for a safe siding installation.


            • #7
              Re: nails for vinyl siding

              This may be a bit late, but here's some input from someone that gets regularly sent out to evaluate applications during claims... As several have mentioned, electro-galvanized weather better, but also watch the diameter of the shank - if the diameter gets too big (rare, but I've measured some), the panel can be restricted despite proper head clearance once nailed. Also check for excess material under the nail's head caused during manufacture - there shouldn't be any.
              John's comment on knowing your hammer length is a great trick - I don't use an estwing, but mine works the same.
              By the book, you must hit every stud, and do so with a centered nail. CertainTeed's Stud-Finder is a great concept, but not if you don't start centered over a stud ('cause then they're all off). Plus it’s unlikely to have absolutely perfect stud spacing.
              To get a centered nail every time, there's a special tool called a "nail slotter" available where vinyl is sold (although I've almost never seen it used). Going over a fully nailable substrate "with the holding power equal to 3/4" penetration into solid wood" works for every company I've represented as well. Should you miss a stud here and there, I don't think it would be an issue, unless you're going for a specific wind load. Miss several in a row though, and you'll likely see a several foot long 'bulge' in that area. I see it often when rigid foams are used as the only sheathing.
              Light colored sidings are far more resilient to application errors, too. Lighter color equals less heat build and less thermal movement. I've seen many white jobs hard nailed with little if any obvious problems.
              Hope it helps.
              - rick


              • #8
                Re: nails for vinyl siding

                rick have been in the business for 20+yrs.I have never even heard of a nail slotter let alone used one.if you could give a little more info i would appreciate it


                • #9
                  Re: nails for vinyl siding

                  Hi John,

                  Malco makes a slotter - you can see it at Here's their description: "The NHP1 punches a generous 5/32" x 3/4" horizontal slot for adding or elongating nail holes in vinyl and .019 aluminum siding to accommodate irregular stud spacing." I commonly see them right next to the vinyl siding in home improvement stores.

                  I've been involved with building since 1985 myself, and I can count on one hand the number of slotters I've seen used (beside mine). Thankfully, the light colors vinyl typically comes in allows a great deal of forgiveness in securing. That forgiveness dissipates quickly the darker the color gets though. Proper securing becomes critically important - that's where the slotter comes in handy.

                  - rick


                  • #10
                    Re: nails for vinyl siding

                    thanks for the info will check it out-don't buy my stuff from home improvement stores maybe thats why i have never seen one.sounds like it may be a good thing though,maybe save on straight blades for my knife lol