Broken vinyl siding. Siding Repairs:

Replacing A Single Panel Of
Vinyl Siding

In This Article:

Using a special $4 tool, a section of vinyl siding is pulled up. The nails are pulled from the siding piece below, and the section is replaced.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 2 (Basic) Time Taken: 20 Minutes 

By , Editor

Vinyl siding with small chip broken out. The front of this 9-year-old house had a small chip in the vinyl siding.

Even though the house was fairly new, the original builder did not save any scraps of siding, nor did he leave any indication of what manufacturer made the siding. This is a very common scenario with houses built on speculation... no spare parts and no info.

Removing Vinyl Siding:

Vinyl siding is surprisingly easy to remove. I would dare to say that I could "undo" the siding on a 1500 square foot house in a day, two at most. Once the top-most piece has been removed to expose the nailing strip of the section below, it's just a matter of pulling nails.

This is a vinyl siding removal tool. It costs about $4 at Home Depot. Vinyl siding removal tool.


This tool is simply a flat steel hook, used to grab the lower edge of the vinyl siding panel and peel it away from the panel below.  


How It Works:

At a corner, the siding removal tool is slid under the lower lip of the siding panel. By using a curving motion the hook of the tool can be pushed under even the most difficult to grab panels.

Of course, the lip in question belongs to the siding panel above the section being replaced, as this upper panel covers the nails of the target section.


Remove a piece of vinyl siding with removal tool. It's hard to see, but there is a small notch in the lower lip of the upper siding panel. Most vinyl siding has these notches at the ends of each standard 12½' panel.

This notch makes it easy to insert the siding removal tool.


Then while pulling downward the tool is slid away from the end, thus unlocking the upper panel from the section below.


This action is continued all the way to the other end of the siding panel.


Now the siding is just flapping in the breeze.

The end of the siding panel overlaps (underlaps, actually) the corner post. This interference causes the siding to stay in this position


Now the nailing strip of the damaged siding is exposed.


I used the claw of my hammer to remove the nails. In some cases I had to use a small pry bar to pull the nails. Pulling nails from vinyl siding.


For a few difficult nails I used a pair of carpenter's pincer pliers (sort of like wire cutters) resting against a small putty knife.

When pulling nails from siding that is applied over foam insulation, care must be taken to avoid crushing the foam. My approach is to spread the force by bearing against a wide sturdy device, such as a putty knife or a thin strip of wood.


Once the nails were removed the damaged siding was pushed downward to release it's lower lip from the starter strip.


This is the starter strip. It essentially mimics the snap-together connector strip found on the top of each vinyl siding panel.

In fact, the top-most part of regular siding panels can, in a pinch, be used as starter strip. I've done it a few times, using short scraps to piece together a long starter strip. But this involves a lot of tedious cutting. 

Since the starter strip is completely concealed there is no concern for color. Consequently, starter strips are typically available only in white.

Installing The New Piece:

Once I removed the old siding I visited some local siding dealers to try to find the exact same color, thickness, and embossed wood-grain pattern. One dealer was able to identify the siding brand and style, but it had just been discontinued. This is a fundamental problem with vinyl siding... the day after a big 'ol windstorm rips a dozen pieces of vinyl from your house, you discover that you can no longer get an exact color match.

So I bought a piece of siding that was very close in color and sheen (shininess). Since the replacement piece was down low and mostly hidden by shrubbery, the homeowners did not object.

Using the old piece as a guide, I marked the length of the new panel with a pencil.


I cut the panel to length with a pair of tin snips. A hand saw can also be used. Some people use an ordinary utility knife to cut vinyl, but I find that to be a chore.


The panel was slid into place from below...


...and pulled upward to latch onto the starter strip.


Let's Watch That Up Close:

The lower lip of the vinyl siding panel is placed against the starter strip.


And then the panel is pulled upwards, so the lower lip snaps into place. Although this shows a panel being installed above a starter strip, the rest of the panels go together in the exact same fashion. 

I replaced the nails, using the same holes unless the nail did not seem to hold well.


Proper nailing of vinyl siding is to leave the nail head sticking out by about 1/32". This allows the siding to shift sideways from thermal expansion and contraction.

I read somewhere that a 12 foot long piece of vinyl siding can expand almost 1/2 inch in length from winter to summer. That is an enormous change, and special precautions need to be taken to accommodate it.

If the nails are driven too tight, vinyl siding can develop a nasty waviness as it expands.

Once the damaged section was replaced, I pushed the upper panel into position and used the siding removal tool to stretch the lower lip downward, so it would snap into place.


This re-connection procedure was simple, just dragging the tool across (while pulling downward) and pushing the siding into place with my other hand.


At the end of the line the siding removal tool is extracted from behind the siding panel. This is a little trickier than it seems.


I always tug on the siding to make sure the sections are connected snugly. If not, they might come undone in the wind.



The completed repair.


Trying To Fix Vinyl Siding?

Locating the right shape, color and texture of vinyl siding can be very frustrating.

SidingMatch does this for you for a small fee.




Tools Used:

  • Vinyl Siding Removal Tool
  • Hammer
  • Small Pry Bar
  • Tin Snips
  • Tape Measure

Materials Used:

  • Vinyl Siding
  • Nails


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Copyright © 2005

Written May 3, 2001
Revised January 9, 2005