Patrick’s Barn: Learning to Love Vinyl Siding
I know. I know. You’re probably ready to pelt me with rotten fruit, but we decided to cover the front gable and rear elevation of our new barn with white vinyl siding. This decision was driven mostly by our budget, but working with vinyl after a 15-year break, has rekindled a long-ago love affair.
So why am I so smitten with vinyl siding? It goes up amazingly fast with a few simple tools. And it stores in nice tidy boxes that take up surprisingly little space. Admittedly, it doesn’t look as good as the random width, native pine I used on other areas of the barn, but I don’t have to straighten it, mill it or pre-prime it.
After spending an hour nailing up the accessory pieces and nailers, I was able to install two squares of vinyl siding in about 2 hours, which I’m guessing is about one-tenth of the time it would take to prep and install a similar amount of the wood siding I used. I was able to install much of the vinyl siding alone, but a second set of hands makes it easier to hook the siding onto the previous course.
One complication with vinyl was the result of our barn’s post-frame construction. I had to install verticle furring so I could nail every siding course. I placed the battens every 16 in. and nailed them into the barn’s horizontal girts. I closed off the bottom of the cavity with some road fabric I have left over from our vegetable garden.
Given unlimited time and money, vinyl wouldn’t be my first siding choice, but I was reminded why it’s the most-popular cladding in the country: it goes up fast without painting, it looks pretty darn good with little maintainence, and it’s really inexpensive. With accessories, the vinyl we got from the home center cost about $85 per square.
More than once during the weekend I was reminded of Ben’s and Mr McGuire’s brief but prophetic conversation in the 1967 film “The Graduate.”
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
You can read more about my barn here.
When the weather was too cold to work outside last weekend, we did some additional air-sealing. Thanks to some spray foam and wood blocking, we now have a continuous air barrier throughout the main barn.
Since the barns girts run horizontally, I installed vertical strapping on which to nail the siding. A coil siding nailer made this work fast and easy. The furring leaves an open space at the bottom that would likely attract nesting insects, so I covered the gap with heavy-duty road fabric that will allow any infiltrated water to drain.
My son offered to help with the siding, and I put him to work helping me hook the first course into the red starter strip. I installed the siding from left to right so the overlaps at panel edges wouldn't be as obvious when viewing the barn from our house or sidewalk.
Here I am nailing on the wood battens that I had to install over our barn's felt paper and horizontal girts. I used a siding nailer with 2-1/2-in. galvanized ring-shank nails. These are the same nails I used for installing the wood siding on the barn's other elevations.
Of course, I can't brag about how green vinyl siding is to my left-leaning friends and family, but my practical side likes that it goes up fast and easy. And my cheapskate side (a big part of my psyche) loves that it's so inexpensive--about $85 per square with accessories.