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What Kind of Nails To Use for Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding we installed on the facade of our house a few years ago

When it comes to home improvement projects, attention to detail is key, and that includes choosing the right materials for the job. Whether you’re considering a complete siding makeover or tackling a siding repair, one factor that can often be overlooked but holds immense importance is the selection of nails. The nails you use can make a significant difference in the durability, stability, and overall appearance of your siding. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of siding nails, providing you with insights into why their selection matters and how to choose the best nails for your specific siding project.

The wrong choice of nails can lead to a range of issues, from siding panels that don’t hold up well over time to potential water infiltration and costly repairs down the road. By understanding the factors that determine the appropriate nail type, size, and installation techniques, you’ll be equipped to make informed decisions that contribute to the success of your siding project.

Choosing the Right Nails for Siding: Factors to Consider

Metabo Siding Nails

Selecting the appropriate nails for your siding project is far more than a mere technicality; it’s a critical decision that can significantly impact the performance and longevity of your siding installation. The right nails contribute to the overall stability and resilience of the siding, preventing issues like warping, buckling, and water infiltration. Let’s explore the essential factors to consider when choosing the right nails for various siding materials and why making the right choice matters.

Nail Material and Durability

The choice of nail material can make a world of difference when it comes to the longevity of your siding. For instance, galvanized nails, which are coated with zinc, offer a protective layer that prevents rust and corrosion. This is especially important for siding that’s exposed to the elements, where moisture and weather conditions can pose a significant threat to the integrity of the installation. Opting for galvanized roofing nails, for instance, ensures that your siding remains secure and visually appealing for years to come.

Nail Size and Holding Power

Nail size is another critical consideration that directly affects how securely your siding is attached. The length of the nail determines how deeply it penetrates into the sheathing and framing of your home. For vinyl siding, it’s recommended that nails be between 1 1/4″ to 2″ in length, with at least 3/4″ of the nail penetrating into the wood sheathing. This ensures a secure hold that can withstand the forces of wind, temperature changes, and the natural expansion and contraction of the siding. Choosing the right nail size is essential to avoid siding that becomes loose, buckled, or otherwise compromised.

Corrosion Resistance and Longevity

One of the most significant threats to the integrity of siding nails is corrosion. Over time, exposure to moisture and outdoor conditions can cause nails to rust and deteriorate. Corroded nails not only compromise the structural integrity of the siding but also detract from the appearance of your home’s exterior. By opting for corrosion-resistant nails, you ensure that your siding remains secure and retains its visual appeal over the years. The investment in quality nails pays off in the form of long-term durability and reduced maintenance.

Preventing Movement and Expansion

Siding is subject to natural movements due to changes in temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors. To accommodate these shifts, it’s crucial to select nails that allow for some degree of movement without compromising the overall integrity of the installation. Using nails with a wide head, such as roofing nails, helps provide a secure hold while still allowing for a slight range of movement. Properly placed nails, positioned in the center of the slot on the vinyl siding, enable the siding to move side to side and expand and contract without buckling or warping.

Best Nails for Vinyl Siding – Galvanized Nails

Bostitch Galvanized Nails for Vinyl Siding

When it comes to securing vinyl siding, one type of nail stands out as a top choice: Galvanized Roofing Nails. These nails have earned their reputation as the go-to option for vinyl siding installation, and for good reason. Let’s delve into why Galvanized Roofing Nails are considered the best choice and how their unique properties contribute to the success of your siding project.

The Galvanized Advantage

Galvanized Roofing Nails are specifically designed to resist rust and corrosion, making them an ideal choice for outdoor applications like vinyl siding installation. The nails are coated with a layer of zinc, a process known as galvanization. This zinc coating acts as a protective barrier, forming a barrier between the nail and the elements. The result is a nail that can withstand exposure to moisture, rain, humidity, and temperature fluctuations without succumbing to the rust that can compromise the integrity of the installation.

Zinc Coating: A Rust-Resistant Shield

The zinc coating on Galvanized Roofing Nails is the key to their durability. When moisture comes into contact with the nails, the zinc sacrifices itself through a process called sacrificial corrosion. In other words, the zinc corrodes instead of the nail. This prevents rust from forming on the nail’s surface, maintaining its structural integrity and preventing unsightly stains on your vinyl siding.

Nail Length and Head Size

Proper nail length and head size are crucial to secure vinyl siding installation. Galvanized Roofing Nails typically range between 1 1/4″ to 2″ in length, ensuring that they penetrate the wood sheathing deeply enough to provide a secure hold. The wide head of these nails, measuring around 5/8″, is designed to firmly grip the siding, preventing it from shifting or becoming loose over time.

Avoiding Over-Driving and Allowing Movement

The installation process for Galvanized Roofing Nails is just as important as their material and design. It’s important not to drive the nail too tightly against the vinyl siding nail hem. Leaving a small gap of approximately 1/32″ between the nail head and the vinyl allows for necessary expansion and contraction of the siding due to temperature changes. This movement-preventing approach ensures that the siding remains securely in place while still accommodating the natural shifts that occur.

Ensuring a Secure Installation

Galvanized Roofing Nails offer a combination of strength, durability, and rust resistance that make them the ideal choice for securing vinyl siding. Their ability to withstand the challenges of outdoor exposure, combined with their appropriate length, head size, and consideration for movement, results in a secure installation that can stand the test of time. By choosing Galvanized Roofing Nails for your vinyl siding project, you’re not only ensuring the immediate success of the installation but also setting the stage for a beautiful, long-lasting exterior that enhances your home’s appearance and value.

What Nails for Engineered Wood Siding

The front view of the house with engineered wood siding

When it comes to engineered wood siding, the choice of nails plays a pivotal role in the overall success of your siding project. Engineered wood, such as LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding, offers a versatile and durable option for enhancing the exterior of your home. To ensure that your siding is not only visually appealing but also securely fastened, it’s crucial to select the right nails that align with the unique properties of engineered wood.

The Importance of Nail Selection

Engineered wood siding requires specific nails that are compatible with its composition and structure. Using the wrong type of nail can lead to issues such as compromised integrity, reduced longevity, and even the possibility of siding panels coming loose. By understanding the recommended nail specifications for engineered wood siding, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and achieve a successful installation.

Recommended Nail Specifications for LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding

For LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding, which is a popular choice in engineered wood siding, the nail specifications are critical for ensuring a secure and lasting installation. To achieve optimal results, it’s recommended to use nails with a shank diameter of 0.113 inches. These smooth shank diameter nails provide the necessary strength and grip to hold the siding panels firmly in place.

Shank Diameter and Nails for Wood Strands

The shank diameter of a nail refers to its thickness, and this factor is particularly important when it comes to engineered wood siding made from wood strands. The choice of a 0.113-inch shank diameter is carefully determined to provide an appropriate level of grip without causing damage to the siding material. The smooth shank design ensures that the nails penetrate smoothly without causing splits or cracks in the engineered wood.

Nail Substitution and Wind Pressure Considerations

Depending on factors such as wind pressure, wind speed, and wind exposure category limitations, a minimum shank diameter of 0.092 inches may be substituted for LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding. This flexibility allows for adjustments based on specific project requirements while maintaining the integrity of the installation.

Proper Installation Techniques for Siding Nails

Proper installation techniques are crucial when it comes to achieving a secure and long-lasting siding project. Whether you’re working with vinyl siding or engineered wood siding, understanding the right nail length, penetration depth, and spacing is essential for ensuring the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of your home’s exterior.

Nail Length and Penetration into Structural Framing

The length of nails used for siding is directly linked to their ability to securely anchor the siding material to the structural framing of your home. For vinyl siding, it’s recommended that nails penetrate into the home’s wood sheathing by at least 3/4 of an inch. This depth provides a strong connection while allowing the siding material to expand and contract with changing temperatures.

For LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding, nails should penetrate structural framing or wood structural panels by a minimum of 1-1/2 inches. This penetration depth ensures a stable attachment that can withstand the forces of wind, weather, and time.

Spacing for Expansion and Contraction

Vinyl siding, in particular, experiences expansion and contraction as temperatures fluctuate. To accommodate this natural movement and prevent warping or buckling, it’s crucial to space nails appropriately. Vinyl siding nails should be placed to allow for a small amount of movement—usually less than 1/16 of an inch.

When installing nails for vinyl siding, position them in the middle of the siding slot. This positioning allows the siding to move side to side as needed, helping to prevent future issues like buckling when the material expands and contracts.

Roofing Nails, Brad Nails, and Screw Fasteners

While some may wonder if roofing nails, brad nails, or screw fasteners can be used for siding installation, it’s important to understand the compatibility of each type.

Roofing Nails: Roofing nails are not ideal for siding due to their shorter length. Siding requires nails that can penetrate deep into structural framing or sheathing, ensuring a secure hold over time. Roofing nails lack the necessary length for this purpose.

Brad Nails: Brad nails, while suitable for certain applications, are generally not recommended for siding. They are thinner and have smaller heads, making them less effective in securing thicker siding materials and providing a stronghold.

Screw Fasteners: Screw fasteners can be used for siding installation, but specific considerations apply. Screws should not impede the natural expansion and contraction of siding panels. They must be centered in the siding slot with a small gap between the screw head and the vinyl or wood. The screws should be corrosion-resistant, self-tapping, and penetrate at least 1-1/4 inches into structural framing or sheathing.

Prioritizing Secure Attachment

Regardless of the type of fastener you choose, the key is to prioritize secure attachment. Nails, screws, or staples must be driven straight and level to prevent distortion or buckling of the siding panels. Proper spacing and positioning allow for the material’s movement while ensuring its stability.

Fastening Procedure for Vinyl Siding Installation

Following the correct fastening procedure helps prevent damage, buckling, and other issues that can arise over time.

Avoid Overdriving and Maintain Clearance

One of the key aspects of a successful vinyl siding installation is to avoid overdriving the nails. Overdriving occurs when the nail head is driven too tightly against the siding’s nail hem. This can lead to buckling, warping, or even breakage of the siding material, especially when it expands and contracts due to temperature changes. To prevent this, it’s important to maintain a small clearance between the nail head and the siding—approximately 1/32 of an inch, roughly the thickness of a dime.

Proper Fastening Technique

Start the fastening process from the center of the siding panel and work towards the ends. This technique ensures that the panel is secured evenly and prevents distortion during installation. Centering the fasteners within the slots is essential to allow the siding material to expand and contract without restriction.

Spacing for Horizontal and Vertical Siding Panels

The spacing of fasteners varies based on whether you’re working with horizontal or vertical siding panels.

  • For horizontal siding panels, fasteners should be spaced a maximum of 16 inches apart. This spacing provides adequate support along the length of the panel while allowing for the expansion and contraction that occurs with temperature changes.
  • Vertical siding panels require a slightly closer spacing. Fasteners should be placed every 12 inches to ensure the secure attachment of the vertically oriented panels.

Keep in mind that these spacing guidelines may be adjusted based on the manufacturer’s recommendations or local building codes. Additionally, if the manufacturer permits greater spacing due to wind load testing, it’s important to follow those guidelines for a safe and effective installation.

Nail Placement for Accessories

When working with accessories such as corner posts, J-channels, and trim pieces, the same principles of proper nail placement apply. The fasteners should be centered within the slots to allow for expansion and contraction. For corner posts, nails are typically placed in the uppermost slots to hold the post in position, allowing for movement at the bottom.

Using Nails vs. Other Fasteners For Siding

When it comes to fastening siding materials, the choice between nails, screws, and staples is an important consideration. Each type of fastener has its own advantages and suitability for specific applications. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using nails, screws, and staples for siding installation.

Nails: Balancing Strength and Flexibility

Nails are a popular choice for siding installation due to their combination of strength and flexibility. They provide a secure hold while allowing for the natural expansion and contraction of siding materials. This flexibility is crucial to prevent buckling, warping, and other forms of damage that can occur when siding panels are restricted during temperature changes.

Screws: A Viable Alternative

Screws can also be used for siding installation, especially when compliance with expansion and contraction is considered. However, using screws requires careful attention to the depth of penetration and the size of the screw head. The screw must be centered in the slot with a small clearance to allow for movement. Additionally, the screw must penetrate framing or furring by at least 1 1/4 inches. The benefits of using screws include their strong grip and resistance to backing out over time.

Staples: Special Considerations

Staples are an alternative to nails and screws, and in some cases, they may be permitted by manufacturers for siding installation. However, the use of staples comes with special considerations. Staples must be 16-gauge semi-flattened, allowing them to create a secure attachment. Similar to other fasteners, staples should allow for expansion and contraction. It’s important to follow manufacturer guidelines and local building codes when using staples for siding installation.

Expansion and Contraction Considerations

Regardless of the type of fastener used, the key consideration is the ability to accommodate the natural expansion and contraction of siding materials. Vinyl siding, for example, can expand and contract by as much as 1/2 inch or more over a 12-foot length due to temperature changes. Fasteners that restrict this movement can lead to unsightly buckling or warping.

Compliance with Siding Configurations

Different siding configurations and materials may have specific requirements for fasteners. It’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and installation guidelines for your chosen siding material. Some siding materials, such as engineered wood siding, have specific nail specifications to ensure proper attachment and durability.

Screws and staples can be suitable alternatives when used correctly. The key is to choose fasteners that allow for expansion and contraction, ensuring the siding’s long-term performance and appearance. Always refer to manufacturer guidelines and local building codes to make the right choice for your siding project.

FAQ – Vinyl Siding Nails

How far apart should I nail vinyl siding?

The spacing of nails for vinyl siding is essential to ensure its stability and prevent buckling. Typically, nails should be placed a maximum of 16 inches apart for horizontal panels and every 12 inches for vertical panels. The manufacturer’s guidelines should also be consulted for specific spacing recommendations.

How many pounds of nails do I need for vinyl siding?

The amount of nails required for vinyl siding installation depends on the square footage of your project. As a general rule of thumb, you can estimate around 0.005 pounds of aluminum nails or 0.01 pounds of roofing nails, staples, or screws per square foot of vinyl siding.

How many nails should be used per square of vinyl siding?

The number of nails per square of vinyl siding can vary based on factors such as the siding’s profile, height, and wind load requirements. However, as a guideline, aim for about 8 to 10 nails per linear foot of siding.

What’s the correct way to nail the starter strip for vinyl siding?

When nailing the starter strip for vinyl siding, ensure that it is level and aligned properly. Use the chalk line as a guide and nail the top edge of the starter strip at intervals of about 10 inches. Leave a gap of 1/4 inch between the ends of starter strips to accommodate expansion.

How can I fill nail holes in vinyl siding?

To fill nail holes in vinyl siding, you can use an exterior-grade caulk or filler that matches the color of your siding. Apply the caulk to the hole and smooth it out. Some vinyl siding manufacturers also offer color-matched plugs specifically designed to cover nail holes.

How frequently should I nail vinyl siding?

Vinyl siding should be nailed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which typically include spacing nails every 16 inches horizontally and every 12 inches vertically. Nailing too tightly can restrict the siding’s expansion and contraction.

How tight should I nail the vinyl siding?

When nailing vinyl siding, avoid driving the nail heads tightly against the siding nail hem. Leave approximately 1/32 inch (the thickness of a dime) clearance between the fastener head and the vinyl. This prevents buckling caused by temperature changes and allows the siding to move naturally.


Choosing the right nails for siding installation is a vital step in ensuring the durability and appearance of your home’s exterior. Opting for corrosion-resistant nails like galvanized roofing nails for vinyl siding prevents rust and deterioration, while proper installation techniques, such as correct nail length and spacing, maintain the siding’s integrity.

While nails are a reliable choice, screws, and staples have their place when used according to manufacturer guidelines. The right choice of fastener, aligned with your siding material’s characteristics, will result in an exterior that stands the test of time and enhances your home’s aesthetic appeal.

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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