Trust the ‘Installation’ Process (Part 2)

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by Coach Rob Balfanz

How Critical the Process Is, Related to Installation in Coastal and High Wind Regions

With the hurricane season underway, it seems fitting that we continue to spend some more time focusing on the installation of polymeric siding, soffit and fascia.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30. You can read the full article here.

In this post, I will focus on the importance of “trusting” and “following” the process when it comes to installation in coastal and high wind regions when installing polymeric siding, accessories, soffit and fascia.

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” – Henry Ford

Starter Strip

In normal wall applications, starter strips are required. Do not use J-channel or other types of trim in place of a starter strip. Vinyl siding, insulated vinyl siding and polypropylene siding starter strips are unique and may not be used interchangeably, so be sure to follow manufacturer specifications for each product category. A starter strip not matched to the lock design of the siding you use could cause the bottom course to blow off, leading to product failure. The key: know your products.

Under Windows and at the Top of Walls

Use of utility trim, also called finish trim or undersill trim, utilizing punch-locked siding is critical under windows and at the top of the walls during the installation process. Using a snap-lock punch (or other approved nail hole-creating tools), punch every 6" along the cut edge of vinyl siding and every 8" along the cut edge of polypropylene siding, so the raised lug is on the outside face. Any time the top lock has been removed from siding, utility trim should be used as a receiver to secure the punched-tab siding panel.


When installing J-channel, fasten the J-channel every 8" to 12" (203mm to 305mm). Use the center of the nail slots. If more than one length of J-channel is required to span a wall surface, be sure to overlap the channels by 3/4" (19mm). As a reminder, do not use J-channel in place of starter strip.


Did you know that the International Residential Code (IRC) requires vinyl soffit to be fastened at both fascia and wall ends? In high-wind regions where the unsupported span of soffit panels is greater than 12", intermediate nailing strips shall be provided. Be sure to check with the local code/ building code office to ensure you comply with local code(s). This is especially crucial when installing in coastal and/or high wind regions. Spend time on your soffit installation systems; it will pay off.


Once vinyl soffit is installed, fascia covers can be installed into utility trim or behind the existing drip edge. When overlapping aluminum/vinyl fascia covers, make sure to overlap 3/4" (19mm). The fascia must be fastened with aluminum or stainless steel painted trim nails into the bottom leg, no more than 24" (610mm) on center. Always pre-drill holes into fascia and do not nail tight. Failure of fascia can lead to the failure of soffit.

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” – Charles R. Swindoll

It’s STILL All About the Details

Proper installation and proper product specification are always critical when ensuring successful results for exterior cladding products.

I always say, if you don’t know, ask, or go take a look. If you have any questions about the processes referred to in this blog post, download or order a copy of VSI’s Installation Manual. 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 add up to be big. Sometimes this is done in daily improvements and other times as larger tasks that turn into significant outcomes. Don’t wait until the post-job inspection to find out the hard way.

Call or e-mail the 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?

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Until then,

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

To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz

Director, Workforce Development