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Siding Repair: Tips From the Pros on How To, and How Not To, Repair Your Vinyl Siding, and More

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on May 17, 2024


Siding Repair: Tips From the Pros on How To, and How Not To, Repair Your Vinyl Siding, and More

Learn how to fix damage to your vinyl siding, how the repair process differs from one material to another, and when to call a professional.

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Most home siding lasts between 20 and 40 years, depending on the material. But no home siding material is indestructible. Whether you have vinyl, wood, metal, or fiber cement siding, you could experience damage along the way. Extreme weather with hail can cause impact damage, as can other flying objects. Excessive moisture causes mold or rot, and insects like termites can wreak havoc on wood siding. 

Don't let these unfortunate events detract from your home's curb appeal. Siding repair is less costly than new installation and may be within your DIY skillset.

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Does your siding need repairing or replacing?

When faced with siding damage, you'll need to decide if repairing or replacing it is the best solution. While replacing it may seem like the obvious solution for significant damage, vinyl siding repair can often be a cost-effective and practical alternative. "Every house is different, and every situation is different," says Jose Garcia, siding installer with Premium General Contractors in New York. "We recommend just as many different ways and techniques as there are circumstances." 

Here are a few examples of when to replace all your siding versus when to repair a small section.

When to replace all your siding

Here are signs the siding on your entire home needs replacing.

  • Loss of integrity. You may have one or two cracked pieces of siding you want to replace, but if they cracked from age, you will want to re-side the entire home. 

  • Fading or discoloration. New siding materials are made to withstand the harmful effects of UV rays. But you may want to replace old siding that has faded or shows signs of discoloration.

  • Widespread damage. Hail storms have been known to cause extensive damage to a home's siding and roofing. If your siding has broken in multiple locations, it is best to replace it all.

  • Interior signs. Bubbling paint, peeling wallpaper, and mold growth inside the home could indicate moisture infiltration. If this describes your situation, have a siding contractor determine the extent of the damage and if your siding needs to be replaced.

When to repair or replace a section of siding

Here are a few instances when repairing a section of siding is advisable.

  • Localized damage. If the damage is limited to one or a few pieces of siding, it's easy and economical to replace them.

  • You can't afford a replacement. Homeowners with little in the bank and even less in home equity may have to make do until they can save the money or qualify for a home equity line of credit.

  • You can't find a match. You may have a small area of damage but can't find an exact match to replace the pieces. In this instance, you can use one of the following techniques to patch the breaks until you can replace everything.

Pro tip

When installing new siding, save at least a half-square from any overage. When you need to repair any damage, you'll have a piece to match. – Mike Igo, Klauer Manufacturing

Cost to repair siding on your house

The average cost to repair vinyl siding is from $5 to $9 per 10 square feet, depending on the extent of the damage and the products used.

Siding repair costs vary widely depending on the material. For instance, stone veneer siding costs as much as seven times that of vinyl. On average, repairing the siding on a 100-square-foot area costs $1,280 to $2,380. 

The best way to repair vinyl siding–in 5 easy steps

According to Mike O'Brien, owner of Custom Exteriors, LLC in Colorado, your repair technique depends on a case-by-case basis. "But what would I do if it were my house?" he asks. "Not patch it." 

For one thing, he explains that many siding materials are impressed with a woodgrain texture. You cannot match that texture when you "patch" it with putty, foam, or tape. "It's like putting lipstick on a pig," he says. 

Therefore, he believes replacing the damaged panel is the best way to repair the damaged siding. Since replacing a piece of vinyl is pretty simple, we have step-by-step instructions here. Simply gather your tools and materials, clear the area of any landscaping or other obstacles, and get started.

Tools and materials to repair vinyl siding

Here is a list of the most common tools used to replace a damaged vinyl siding section.

1. Loosen the damaged siding panel

A graphic illustrating how to loosen a damage siding panelUse a siding removal (zip) tool to separate the damaged piece of siding from the one above it. Insert the tool in the joint to gently pry it loose. Then, work your way down the length of the panel to separate the two and expose the nails that fasten the damaged piece of siding to the wall.

Pro tip

Always wear personal protective equipment like a harness when working on elevated heights. – Jose Garcia, Premium General Contractors

2. Remove the nails and damaged section

A graphic illustrating how to remove the nails and damaged sectionUse your pry bar to remove the nails holding the damaged panel in place. Be careful not to damage any surrounding panels.

With the fasteners removed, you should be able to remove the damaged panel from the wall. Be careful not to damage the surrounding panels, especially if they extend under a piece of trim.

3. Cut the replacement piece

A graphic illustrating how to cut the replacement piece of sidingMeasure the length of the panel you removed and cut a piece the same length as the replacement material. Use a utility knife to score the new piece, then snap it along the score line to separate. Alternatively, use a pair of vinyl snips to cut it along the line.

Pro tip

If you don't have siding pieces left from the installation, visit a home improvement retailer like The Home Depot or a building supply company that sells products retail like Lansing Building Products. – Mike O'Brien, Custom Exteriors, LLC.

If you don't have replacement material long enough to replace the entire panel, cut off the damage. Then, cut a replacement piece the size of what you removed plus enough to overlap the adjoining piece. Look at the existing siding to ascertain the correct overlap measurement, which will vary by climate region.

4. Install the replacement panel

A graphic illustrating how to install a replacement siding panelSlide the replacement siding piece into place, snap it to the one below, and ensure you have the proper overlap with neighboring panels. Nail it in place, spacing nails every 12-16 inches and keeping them in the center of the nailing slot. Be careful not to overdrive the nails, as that can cause buckling. Leave a dime's thickness under the nailhead.

Pro tip

To ensure you nail the replacement panel at the correct level, look for the old nail holes to ensure proper alignment.

5. Lock the panel in place

A graphic illustrating how to lock a siding panel in placeOnce you've nailed the replacement piece in place, tuck all panels under the adjacent trim. Then, use the zip tool to lock the panels together by inserting the tool into the groove of the upper panel and pulling it down slightly to overlap the replacement panel. Then, slide the tool along the length of the panel to lock them together.

Step back and look at the spot. Make sure the panels are properly aligned. Then, feel the joints to ensure you don't leave any gaps or loose areas. Clean up, and you're done!

Alternative ways to repair vinyl siding

Though siding professionals agree that the only proper way to repair siding is to replace the damaged section, there are alternatives you may hear of, particularly on Reddit. When we perused Reddit for ways homeowners are repairing their siding, we asked siding experts what they thought. Their comments tell all.

But to be fair, O'Brien says we should consider the homeowner's pocketbook before judging. "You don't see vinyl on a high-end, $500,000 home," he says. "Vinyl siding is found primarily on low- and middle-income homes, and those homeowners may not have a rainy day fund for when the lawnmower throws a rock." For those homeowners, these "make-do" alternatives will buy some time until they can save for a more adequate fix or a total siding replacement.

Expanding spray foam

"We would consider that a hack job," says O'Brien. "But to be fair, it is a viable way to plug the hole until you can get a new piece."

Silicone caulk

According to Garcia, there are more viable ways to protect your home than this. "When the homeowner asks us to do something that isn't a best practice, we explain to them the consequences," he says. "If they still want us to continue, we don't take on the job."

Cover with another piece

According to O'Brien, this scenario is the best temporary fix. If you don't have extra pieces lying around or can't find anything to match, he says you can use any vinyl siding that's the same width.

How to repair other types of siding

"We consider vinyl the easiest form of siding to replace," says Garcia. But what about other types of siding? Here are a few tips from the experts.

How to repair wood siding

If you have an older home with smooth wood clapboard siding, O'Brien recommends patching it with Bondo®, a putty most often used in the automotive industry. He says it fills without shrinking and can be sanded smooth.

How to repair fiber cement siding

If you've ruled out any structural causes for your fiber cement siding damage, you can replace the piece or patch it. "If we're talking about replacing one piece of siding, it's pretty straightforward enough for a DIYer to attack," says Chad Diercks, R&D director, North America, for James Hardie®. "But if it extends beyond that, the homeowner should consider calling a professional." 

For scratches or impact damage that don't penetrate the piece, Diercks shared a few ways to repair or patch it.

  • Lightly sand a surface scratch and use touch-up paint to hide it.

  • Fill a deeper scratch with an exterior grade, paintable caulk, and paint it.

  • Use a cementitious filler like Bondo or CrackSHOT to fill larger areas from impact. "Although, I'm sure my son can't hit a baseball hard enough to damage our siding," he says. Then, paint with a matching color and sheen.

Diercks advises thoroughly cleaning the area before applying any product and feathering it with a putty knife before sanding it smooth to hide any seams. James Hardie offers touch-up kits to match their ColorPlus® Technology.

Pro tip

If you're the original purchaser of the siding, retain the following for future warranty claims or repairs: extra pieces of siding, all paperwork and receipts, color codes, and a small container of touch-up paint. – Chad Diercks, James Hardie

How to repair engineered wood siding

Engineered wood siding is not impact-resistant. Though treated to protect from moisture and insect damage, this type of damage happens when the siding is improperly maintained. Garcia recommends replacing the entire panel to repair damaged engineered wood.

How to repair metal siding

Regarding metal siding, Mike Igo, vice president of Klauer Manufacturing, agrees that replacing the damaged panel is the best route. "It's as easy as a vinyl siding repair," he says, "but it's more work." In his opinion, a skilled homeowner could DIY the task if they knew how to use a nibbler, a tool used to cut the metal. 

However, he adds that the corner trim is the most common area for siding damage. "It's not as complicated to replace as a vinyl corner piece," he says. "It simply snaps off and on." And what about scratches? Klauer sells touch-up paint to match all their siding colors.

Additional considerations

  • Asbestos. Homes built pre-1980 may have asbestos siding. Asbestos is a known cancer-causing material that is no longer used in the building industry. Consult with a professional before working with siding you suspect could contain asbestos.

  • Location of repair. House siding is installed from the bottom of the home, working upward. So, for some materials, replacing a piece on the lower half of the wall is more challenging than on the upper half. 

  • Obstacles and workarounds. If you need to repair or replace siding that runs under a downspout, is in the gable, or around a dormer, the work may require removing other materials to gain access.

  • Hidden damage. If you have insect or water damage behind the siding, someone must repair that hidden damage. This repair will add to the project's total cost and may not be something you can DIY.

DIY vs. professional siding repair

We just made repairing your vinyl siding look like a straightforward DIY project, but if you have any doubts about your ability to pull off this home improvement task, call a professional. Of course, if you want to apply duct tape and caulk to make it until spring, that's your call. But if your siding isn't vinyl, you don't have the right tools, or you suspect damage behind the siding,  it's best not to mess around. A siding professional or handyman can take this task off your plate.

Don't let your home live with a chink in its armor

Holes, cracks, or loose pieces of siding allow moisture and insects to invade. And the longer you wait to repair it, the worse the extent of the damage. Let us help you find a siding installer in your area to give you an estimate for your siding repair.

Find a siding contractor in your neighborhood

Frequently asked questions

Yes. In fact, that's the best way to repair damage to your siding.

That depends on the condition of the siding and your location. For more on asbestos siding, read "Everything You Should Know About Asbestos Siding."

Replacing your home's exterior siding will improve its curb appeal, include new, updated materials, increase energy efficiency, and better protect your home from the elements than old material. Yes, it's a good investment.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.