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Unlike wood clapboards, vinyl siding is so thin and flexible that each piece has to lock onto the ones above and below to keep a house weatherproof. So when a piece of vinyl breaks, the "key" to making the repair is a zip tool, a miniature curved pry bar with a metal hook at its tip to unlock the siding. Here's how to use it.

1. Snap out the old piece. Wedge the zip tool up into the horizontal joint where the "hook" at the bottom edge of the damaged piece fits into the "lock" of the piece below. Pull the tool down and out as you work it along the joint until the hook pops free. Do the same along the joint above the damage. Now, using a pry bar, remove the nails from the damaged piece.

2. Snap the new piece on. Cut a replacement piece to length with a sharp utility knife guided by a square. It should be at least 2 inches longer than the space it is covering. Hold the piece horizontally so that each end overlaps the neighboring siding by at least one inch. Hook the replacement's bottom edge into the lock at the top edge of the piece below. Push the replacement up, under the piece above.

3. Nail it. Lift the overhanging piece out of the way, then nail the new piece in place with 1¼ to 1½-inch aluminum siding nails. Drive a nail every 16 inches, aiming for the center of the prepunched holes along the nailing flange at the top. The nails shouldn't pinch the siding; vinyl needs to expand and contract.

4. Zip it. Hook your zip tool onto the lock at the top of the replacement siding and pull it slightly outward and down. At the same time, push the lower edge of the existing siding in toward the house with your free hand until it engages the replacement piece's groove, as demonstrated above. Slide the zip tool horizontally until all the siding above snaps into the lock's groove.

TOH Tip: Because of all the bending required, the best time to repair damaged vinyl siding is in summer, when the plastic is warmer and more flexible.

Where to Find It

Vinyl siding removal tool: SRT1

Malco Products Inc.

Annandale, MN