Trust the ‘Installation’ Process

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by Coach Rob Balfanz

How Critical the Installation Process Is, Related to Sheathing, Sheathing Nailability and Fastening

A majority of recent survey respondents said they lost work due to exorbitant material costs and long lead times, according to a Journal of Light Construction article. The respondents also noted that lumber stood out as the most significant source of pain, followed by sheathing (both plywood and OSB).

These material shortages provide an opportunity to remind installers about the importance of the installation process when using the many different types of sheathing available to the industry today.

And while the sheathing may continue to change, the process should not.

In this first blog post in a three-part series, I will focus on the importance of “trusting” the process and “following” the process when it comes to vinyl siding installation.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is remarkably resistant to high wind, given its lightweight and relatively simple installation. But for it to perform to its potential, it must first be properly selected and then properly installed.

As vinyl siding installers, you must ensure that the siding is installed in a way that allows it to meet its rating. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions before starting any vinyl siding installation project.


Vinyl siding should be applied over a sheathing that provides a smooth, flat surface. Consult local building codes for sheathing requirements. Per the Vinyl Siding Institute’s (VSI) installation manual, vinyl siding must never be applied directly to studs without sheathing.

Sheathing Nailability

Vinyl siding can be installed over common wood sheathings such as plywood, oriented strand board (OSB) or other materials – for example, foam plastic insulating sheathing and other new products  making their way onto job sites. What should you do if you do not have plywood, OSB or foam sheathing? For specific information on the use of various types of sheathing, always refer to the most current version of the building code and always consult the manufacturer’s instructions before starting any vinyl siding installation project.

High Wind Areas

As you may know, design pressure testing has been in effect for the past 20+ years, but more recently, testing has distinguished between coastal and non-coastal products with even more rigorous standards. Polymeric siding has improved its resilience in direct relationship with code requirements and standards becoming more stringent. Are you located in a high wind or coastal area? Do you require more detailed information on installing product in high wind and/or coastal areas?  Click here or request a copy of “How to Properly Install Polymeric Siding and Soffit in Coastal Areas” by sending an e-mail to


Per VSI, use aluminum, galvanized steel or other corrosion-resistant nails, staples or screws when installing vinyl siding.

It is important to understand that minimum fastener length must be sufficient to penetrate sheathing or other nailable substrate and framing a total of a minimum of 1 1/4" (32mm) or per the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Nail heads should be 5/16" (7.9mm) minimum in diameter and the nail shank should be 1/8" (3.2mm) in diameter.

“You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems. In most areas of life, winners and losers have the same goals but it’s not the goal that separates them. It’s the system that they follow.” – James Clear

It’s all About the Details

I always say, if you don’t know, ask or take a look. If you have any questions about this process, be sure to download or order a copy of VSI’s Installation Manual and remember, all vinyl siding installations must always conform to local building codes. The local code may also require that the installation conforms to the siding manufacturer’s instructions.

As I noted in my last blog post, in life and business, it’s the little things that usually add up to be big things. Sometimes this is done in daily improvements and other times as larger tasks that turn into big outcomes. Don’t wait until the post-job inspection to find out the hard way. Call or e-mail VSI – we are here to support you!

Want to get certified, or are you up for certification renewal? Check out our Careers and Training Page here! We also have a great Basics of Installation program for your office, sales and warehouse staff.

Want to get more involved in the industry or learn more about building the life you want? Click here!

Until then,

Be Resilient – Add Value – Stay Healthy - Trust the Process!

To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz

Director, Workforce Development