How to Install Vinyl Board and Batten Siding Yourself

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Over the past four years, my husband and I have learned how to do almost every home improvement job under the sun while revamping our neglected ranch-style fixer upper. We’ve replaced nearly everything inside the house and we’ve been working on what I like to consider the icing on the cake: the exterior siding.

We chose to do vinyl board and batten siding because it has a modern vibe and isn’t something you see every day. It’s also relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Since we are doing it ourselves to cut costs even further, that’s a major plus! For those of you planning to do the same who have never installed board and batten siding before, I’m going to walk you through it step by step.

First of all, you have to get all of your supplies together. In addition to the siding materials, there’s a slew of other things you’ll need to make the installation go as smoothly as possible.

Supplies and Tools:

-Vinyl Siding Nails Pencil

-Tool Belt Hammer

-Chalk Line


-Tape Measure Speed Square Tin Snips

-Utility Knife

-Miter Saw Ladder

I’m going to assume that if you’re installing siding yourself, your home isn’t a new build and you already have soffit in place. Our house still has the original wood soffit from when it was built in 1962. The method for installing soffit where there is none is slightly different from installing it over existing soffit. For these intents and purposes, I’m going to explain how to install vinyl soffit over the top of the old soffit.

First, you’ll want to hang j-channel along both the top of the wall and the inner side of the fascia board to support the soffit. To do so, you’ll need your level, chalk line, hammer, siding nails and snips. You’ll snap the chalk line first to establish your line, using the level to make sure the line isn’t crooked.

Before you put up the first piece of j-channel, you’ll want to cut the end of it so that it can easily join with the next piece. To do this, you’ll use your snips to cut an inch off of the back side and also an inch off of the lip on the front side of the j-channel.

After you’ve set your line and trimmed the end of the piece to allow for overlap, you can start putting up the j-channel. You’ll want to drive a nail every eight to twelve inches or so, leaving about the thickness of a dime between the nail head and the wall for each one; this allows for expansion and contraction. It’s also important to make sure that you place each one in the middle of the nail slot.

Once you’ve installed the j-channel on both sides of the overhang, you can put the soffit in place one piece after the other on top of the existing soffit. If your overhang is over 16” deep, then you’ll need to use one of your vinyl siding nails in the middle nail slot of each seam to prevent them from sagging.

Now you’re ready to start working on the siding! Before you do, you’ll want to hang the corner molding. The main thing to consider while doing so is making sure they’re plumb and leaving a quarter inch gap at the top and bottom of each one. Then you can hang the j-channel to hold the siding in place at the top and bottom of the wall and also around all windows and doorways. Make sure to check your local building codes to ensure you allow enough space between the bottom channel and the ground.

The installation process is the same as what’s described above. When it comes to the windows and doorways, the only difference is making sure to create a drip edge where the top and bottom channels meet the side channels. To do this, you’ll want to cut the top piece two inches longer than the width of the window or door and cut an inch off of the back of the piece and make an inch long slot between the front and the bottom, bending the bottom tab to create a drip edge. You’ll do the same with the side pieces where they slide in place with the bottom.

After you’re done with the j-channel, you can hang the siding panels. The first thing you’ll want to do is measure the wall from the inside channel of both corner molding pieces. For example, let's say the wall measures 9 feet or 108 inches. If your panels cover 8 inches each, you’ll divide 8 into 108 to figure out how many panels you need to cover the wall. In this case, that would be 13.5 panels. Since you don’t want to have a whole panel on one end and a half on the other, especially on a small wall, you’ll want to take the half piece, which would be 4 inches wide and cut it in half, making it 2 inches wide so that you can start and end the wall with a 2 inch piece. You’ll also want to put a piece of undersill trim in the channel of the corner molding to support any partial siding panels where the locking channel has been cut off.

Lastly, you’ll want to measure from the inside of the j-channel at the top of the wall to the inside of the channel on the bottom to determine how long each piece needs to be. I wouldn’t recommend measuring and using the same number for all the pieces because there could be a slight variation, especially with an older home. Instead, I would measure every few panels as you go and cut a few at a time with the miter saw, using the speed square to make sure your lines are straight and subtracting a half inch from each piece to allow for expansion and contraction. For example, if your measurement is 7 feet or 84 inches, you’ll want to cut your pieces 83.5 inches. I also want to point out that the saw blade is backward in the image above. If you choose to use a miter saw to cut your pieces, this reduces the chance of chipping the siding.

Keep in mind that the first nail you drive will hang each piece, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve left a quarter inch of space between the top and bottom of it and the channel and then drive your nail into the very top of the top nail slot. After that you can make sure you’re plumb with your level and then drive a nail in the middle of the nail slot every 12 to 16 inches or so, making sure not to drive it all the way in and leaving a gap the thickness of a dime.

And that is how you install board and batten siding!

Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional contractor. This is meant to give you a good overview of the process of installing board and batten siding. However, if you do choose to install your siding yourself, you do so at your own risk.

For more DIY articles: DIY Fire Pit | DIY Removable Wallpaper Install

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Brit Arnesen lives in the Midwest with her husband and two kids. She’s an avid DIYer who’s really into interior design and blogging. She was a model, world traveler, graduate scholar, and teacher in her past lives.