Exterior Siding Repair

Siding is your home’s skin. This Fix-It Guide on exterior siding repair tells how exterior siding works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an exterior siding problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to repair bowed wood siding, how to replace damaged wood siding, how to repair popped nails, how to repair clapboard siding, how to repair vinyl siding, and how to repair dented aluminum siding

How Does Exterior Siding Work?

 Exterior Siding Repair

Exterior siding can easily work loose, especially around window and door openings.

Siding is the wall covering of boards fastened to an exterior building frame or sheathing. Siding can be made of numerous natural and man-made materials including wood, vinyl, and aluminum. Most are either overlapping or interlocking, depending on their design, to keep moisture from easily penetrating the wall sheathing. Brick, stone, and stucco are also used as siding material.

What Can Go Wrong with Exterior Siding?

Siding boards can bow. Shingles can be damaged. Nails in vertical panels can pop out. Pieces of clapboard siding can split. Vinyl siding can be punctured or torn. Aluminum siding can suffer dents.

Fix-It Tip

Maintaining vinyl and aluminum siding is relatively easy. Simply wash it once a year with a mild soap solution. Remember that harsh cleaners can damage nearby plants.

How Can I Identify an Exterior Siding Problem?

  • If a siding board bows out from the house, you can reattach it to flatten it (see below).
  • If shingle siding is damaged, you can easily replace the damaged pieces (see below).
  • If nails in vertical panels pop out, you can replace the nails with screws for a solid repair (see below).
  • If a piece of clapboard siding is split, you can close up the split (see below).
  • If a piece of vinyl siding is damaged, you can patch it (see below).
  • If aluminum siding is dented, you can repair it (see below).

What Do I Need for Exterior Siding Repair?

Replacement parts are available from local home improvement outlets. The tools you will need to fix exterior siding include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Drill
  • Caulking gun and weatherproofing caulk
  • Galvanized nails
  • Galvanized screws
  • Wood stain
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Exterior paint
  • Paint brush or pad
  • Wood chisel
  • Wood adhesive
  • Mini-hacksaw blade
  • Pry bar
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Zip tool
  • Metal snips
  • Utility knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Metal primer
  • Wedges
  • Automotive body filler
  • Sheet metal screws

What Are the Steps to Exterior Siding Repair?

Repair bowed wood siding:

  1. Drill pilot holes through the siding and into underlying wall studs to avoid splitting the wood.
  2. Install long galvanized screws through the siding and into the studs.
  3. Recess the screw heads and cover them with weatherproofing caulk.

Replace damaged wood siding:

  1. Insert wedges under the course directly above the damaged shingle.
  2. Remove the damaged shingle with a nail puller or other tool, or by cutting it into pieces with a chisel.
  3. Drive in or remove nail heads that will be in the way of installing the new siding.
  4. Install the new shingle, cutting as needed to make sure that it fits snugly.
  5. Use galvanized nails or screws to fasten the new shingle firmly in place.
  6. Recess the screw heads and cover them with weatherproofing caulk.

Repair popped nails in siding:

  1. Identify which nails are above the surface and look for a probable cause. If replacement or repair to the siding is needed, see above.
  2. Use a nail puller or pry bar to remove the popped nails.
  3. Replace the nails with longer galvanized nails or screws of the same or slightly wider shanks.
  4. Recess the screw heads and cover them with weatherproofing caulk.

Repair clapboard siding:

  1. If clapboard siding is cracked, insert a putty knife or pry bar into the crack to widen it, then inject exterior (waterproof) wood adhesive.
  2. As possible, nail each side of the split so the crack will close around the adhesive.
  3. Recess the nail heads and cover them with weatherproofing caulk.
  4. Touch up the repair with matching exterior Paint or wood stain.

Fix-It Tip

Paint and stain aren’t just makeup, they’re foundation. Make sure that siding is protected from moisture and pests by keeping it well painted to seal it.

Repair vinyl siding:

  1. Use an installer’s zip tool to unlock siding above the damaged piece. These tools are available at larger hardware and building material stores.
  2. Pry down and slide the tool along the edge to free it.
  3. Insert temporary wedges under the loose siding course.
  4. Remove nails above the damaged section with a nail puller or claw hammer.
  5. Remove the damaged area with snips or a utility knife.
  6. Cut a replacement section 2 inches larger than the damaged piece.
  7. Install the replacement through the top flange, centering it in the opening.
  8. Re-lock the siding edges with the zip tool.

Repair dented aluminum siding:

  1. Drill a small hole at the center of the dent.
  2. Install a screw partially into the siding to give you something to grip.
  3. Use pliers to pull on the sheet metal screw and pop out the dent.
  4. Remove the screw.
  5. As needed, sandpaper the dent, clean, and fill with automotive body filler.
  6. Once the filler is dry, apply a metal primer.
  7. Paint the surface with two coats of a similar color in an area significantly wider than the dent.

Fix-It Tip

Wood siding’s worst enemies are moisture and wood-boring pests. You can minimize damage by making sure that Gutters are keeping water from the surface, and that nearby plants aren’t giving moisture and bugs a clear path to the siding. A once-a-year walk-around inspection of wood siding is a good idea.