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Vinyl siding hook or zip tool:
How to use a zip tool or vinyl siding un-lock tool to remove, repair, and replace vinyl siding or siding trim on buildings. This article describes the tools needed to unlock and remove vinyl siding without damaging it. Doing so permits repair or replacement of vinyl siding, corner trim, window and door J-channels and trim while avoiding ruining the remaining siding on the building.
Our page top photo explains how to use a zip tool to unlock vinyl siding to enable its removal. Details are in the article below.
How to remove vinyl siding: This Siding Hook is Key if you Need to Remove or Reinstall Part of a Vinyl-Clad Wall
[Click to enlarge any image]
Shown above is a siding hook, also referred to in some manuals as a zip tool.
As Steve Bliss points out at VINYL SIDING LOCK & NAIL FLANGES, all vinyl siding panels have a locking
tab at the bottom of each panel that snaps over the top tab
of the panel below.
It's not unusual to need to re-hook loose vinyl siding such as shown in our vinyl siding damage photo above, or to remove impact-damaged, heat damaged, or badly stained vinyl siding from a structure. In fact we might try removing and re-nailing vinyl siding on a building wall that buckles every time the sun shines on it. Brute force can un-hook vinyl siding in the middle of a wall from the course below and course above, in order to pull nails and take off a bad siding section.
Watch out: trying to tear off vinyl siding without unhooking the lower edge (buttock) of each siding course from the course below risks damaging more siding courses and increasing the cost of repair or replacement of the wall cladding. In fact, without a siding replacement tool such as Malco's Side Swiper SRT1 shown in our photo above, even if you can tear off the siding, re-hooking the bottom edge of the new siding section to the top of the course below can be almost impossible.
5 Steps in Using a Vinyl Siding Zip Tool or Un-Lock Tool
Below at left we illustrate how the vinyl siding hook can be used to "un-hook" the lower edge or "buttock" of vinyl siding in order to remove the siding for repair or replacement of damaged siding or to permit replacement of damaged corner trim or window trim or J-channel against which the vinyl siding is abutting.
At above right we illustrate the names for the parts of a course of typical vinyl siding. This illustration was adapted from the helpful vinyl siding installation manual provided by the Vinyl Siding Institute cited below.
The hook on this tool is designed to loosen and then help re-lock the bottom edge of vinyl siding without cutting or damaging the siding. A few home inspectors also carry this siding replacement tool to permit invasive inspection of a building wall - something not normally done during a visual home inspection for a purchaser. A newer version of this tool, the Malco SideSwiperII (SRT2) (see REFERENCES) has a nicer handle that makes unlocking and re-locking of vinyl siding easier and less likely to be damaged.
OK so it's actually just 4 physical steps:
Decide where to start removing siding: To use a siding unlock or zip tool, start removing siding by un-hooking the siding course immediately above the damaged siding.
Insert the siding hook: Simply insert the hook end of the tool into the locking flange in the buttock or lower edge of the vinyl siding (see sketches below).
Pull down on the siding zip tool or hook: When the hook catches the up-facing lip of the siding buttock, pull downwards on the tool. The siding will un-hook from the top nailing flange of the siding course immediately below. This gives ready access to the nailing flange of the lower course.
Remove or flatten siding nails: Use a small flat bar to pry out the nails in the nailing flange of the vinyl siding course to be removed. If the siding was nailed properly in its original installation the nails should not be tight against the siding or wall, so a thin flat bar will work nicely to remove them. Be sure that the butt of the flat bar presses against the nail flange or the wall sheating above the nail. Don't put the butt of the flat bar against the raised ridge of the nailing flange or you may damage it.
If the siding panel being removed is very brittle or badly damaged such that its nail flange has been broken or can be broken away from the wall sheathing, you can opt to leave the nails in the wall: just remove any fragments of the old siding behind the nails and then drive the nail flush with the wall surface.
Remove the vinyl siding: Remove and replace the damaged vinyl siding.
Watch out: you may find that even if you are using stored "new old stock" vinyl siding from the original siding batch that was installed on the building the color of the new siding may not be a perfect match with the older siding remaining on the wall. Depending on the siding color and specific product, some sun-fading is normal. The photo of a horrible vinyl siding installation job shown below illustrates a color mismatch that was probably unavoidable. But the other bad siding work discussed starting at VINYL SIDING INSPECTION & REPAIR could have been avoided.
How to Remove & Replace Thick, Non-flexible Vinyl or Polycarbonate Siding Panels
CertainTeed and other manufacturers note that when removing thicker non-flexible vinyl or polycarbonate siding panels such as that company's Cedar Impressions Panel, to remove the old panels you will need to use a wood chisel to locate the locking tab of the old panel and to literally break it off. The siding zip tool shown above won't work as the thicker plastic panels are not flexible enough to simply pull down and un-hook. The company provides a panel replacement kit that includes new cam clip and snap rivet fasteners to hold the replacement Cedar Impressions Panel in place. Or alternative colored trim nails can be used to secure the new panel in place.
Your local vinyl siding supplier or building supplier will be happy to give you the vinyl siding installation manual for the specific product you are purchasing, as everyone involved has an interest in a proper vinyl siding installation. If your supplier is out of manuals for their product just give the manufacturer a call or check their website for a down-loadable vinyl siding manual. Here are some sources of vinyl siding installation guides:
VINYL SIDING INSTALLATION - online guide from expert Steve Bliss, this article offers practical tips and general vinyl siding installation advice. " Vinyl Siding: Product Choices & Proper Siding Installation Details, vinyl siding defects & repair advice"
CertainTeed, "Installation Guide, Vinyl and Polymer Siding",[PDF] CertainTeed Saint-Gobain Corporation, Tel: 1-800-233-8990 (USA), Website: www.certainteed.com/mastercraftsman, retrieved 2015/10/30, original source: http://www.certainteed.com/resources/cts205.pdf
Georgia-Pacific, "Vinyl Siding & Accessories Installation Guide" [PDF], Georgia-Pacific, Website: http://www.gpvinylsiding.com/, retrieved 2015/10/30, original source: use the website link given at left.
Excerpt: For best results, it is recommended that vinyl siding meet the requirements of the Vinyl Siding Institute Sponsored Certification Program. See www.vinyl- siding.org for a current list of certified products. This manual sets forth the basic guidelines for vinyl siding installation. The instructions herein are based, in part, on ASTM Specification D4756, the standard method for installation of vinyl siding and soffit. Updated information has been added as necessary. Additionally, it is recommended that installers review applicable building codes for variations that may apply to specific products or geographic areas.
Vinyl Siding Institute, "Vinyl Siding Installation Manual", [PDF] (VSI), National Housing Center, 1201 15th St. NW, Suite 220, Washington D.C. 20005, Website: www.vinylsiding.org, retrieved 2015/10/30, original source http://www.vinylsiding.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/I1_-_Vinyl_Siding_Installation_Manual_English2.pdf
Reader Question: is it possible to avoid damaging vinyl siding when replacing broken corner trim?
29 October 2015 Tony Goszulak said:
Is it possible to not destroy the siding or trim corner when replacing the broken corner trim? The siding is existing and the corner was damaged next to a deck.
As a fellow whom I admire, instructor and home inspector Mark Cramer (Tampa) says: "... well, it depends"
Older vinyl siding may be quite brittle and hard to work-on without damage. Our photo above shows broken vinyl corner trim on a vinyl sided home in Glens Falls, New York. Your corner trim may look like that. The good news is that most vinyl siding can be removed, handled, or pieces replaced without breaking it.
Work carefully using a special tool to unlock the clipped-together bottom edge of the siding. I have added a photo of the siding unlock tool into the article above.
Then using a small flat bar or a pair of them, remove the siding nails holding the siding in place.
Remove enough siding nails to remove or loosen the siding end enough to expose the nails holding the vertical vinyl corner trim in place.
Remove and replace the corner trim as needed.
Re-fasten and re-connect the siding.
Reader Question: vinyl siding "shrink kit" for loose siding ? What the heck is that?
RE: Side Swiper vinyl siding replacement tool Malco [see illustrations above] have to repair loose vinyl siding from my house due to improper installation.
To save money, it was suggested that there is a product that can re-attach the siding without having to take all the siding off on the whole wall and re-installing it.
The man couldn't remember the name of it, but he called a "shrink kit" but we know that that isn't the correct name. - Nancy Rubin 6/24/12
Nancy there is a siding hook that can reattach the bottom edge of vinyl siding to the course below - I have posted a photo of the tool here. But to give accurate advice we need to know just what is the problem with your siding installation. Perhaps you can send us some photos.
Loose vinyl siding problems, causes, cures, and the tool above are discussed in detail at VINYL SIDING INSPECTION & REPAIR - (live link given just below).
Questions & answers or comments about Vinyl Siding on Buildings, Installation, Inspection Methods, Defects, Diagnosis & Repair.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
ASTM E2112, Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors and Skylights includes flashing details important for vinyl and other siding installations
Vinyl Siding Installation Manual, [PDF] The Vinyl Siding Institute, Website: http://www.vinylsiding.org/Email: email@example.com, - retrieved 9 Feb 2015, original source: http://www.vinylsiding.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/I1_Vinyl_Siding_Installation_Manual_English.pdf
Excerpting from the associations's website: The Vinyl Siding Institute, Inc. (VSI) is the trade association for manufacturers of vinyl and other polymeric siding and suppliers to the industry.retrieved 9 Feb 2015, original source: http://www.vinylsiding.org/resources/vinyl-siding-installation-manual-2/
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
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