Vinyl siding is used as the exterior wall finishing material on many modern American homes built from the early 1990’s onwards. Vinyl siding is durable and easy to maintain unlike timber or composite board which requires painting every few years.
If you have vinyl siding on your home, you might be wondering; how to drill into vinyl siding correctly? You may want to install shutters, security cameras, doorbell, light fitting, mount a flag holder or some other fixture.
In this article, we explain how you can safely drill into this material without cracking or tearing, and the recommended drill bits and tools to use.
The guide includes a method of drilling larger holes and also discusses an alternative to hanging things on with specially designed ‘vinyl siding hooks’.
How do I drill a small hole into vinyl siding?
If you’re planning on mounting shutters or a light fixture then you’ll only need to drill small holes to enable screws to go through. There are a few things to watch out for to avoid damaging the siding.
Step 1. Wait for a warm day, or heat up the vinyl.
Vinyl can become brittle in colder weather, increasing the chances of cracking or splitting. Older material is also more likely to crack or shatter when you drill, especially in cold weather. To prevent cracking, you can use a hair dryer or heat gun to heat the vinyl up prior to drilling into vinyl siding so it is softer and more malleable. If you’re not in a hurry, you can wait for warm weather!
Step 2. Measure and locate where to drill
Measure carefully to locate studs or structural framing behind the siding. If you are planning to mount a heavy fixture of some sort, you’ll need to ensure you’re screwing into some solid structure to support the weight.
Spacing for studs in most homes is usually at a 16″ center – in some cases they can be spaced with a 24″ center.
You can often look down the bottom of the wall to identify where a nail or screw is located – that can help you locate the studs, or measure 16″ from the corner of the building, then in multiples of 16″.
If you still can’t find the stud, then a stud finder can help.
Ensure you locate electrical wires, gas lines and water pipes before drilling. If you are unsure consult a professional.
Now measure and mark the spots where you are planning to drill.
Remember the old saying ‘measure twice drill once’!
Step 3. Drill a pilot hole – drill in reverse
Now you’ve marked out where to drill, grab a small drill bit – around 1/8″ is a good size to start. Choosing the right type of bit is important – a standard wood bit will be fine if there is timber framing behind the vinyl. If there is brick behind the vinyl, you can use a masonry drill bit. Starting small reduces the chances of splitting or cracking.
Important – drill in reverse! Set your drill to operate in reverse – spinning anti-clockwise. Avoid drilling in forward gear. This will prevent the blade on the drill bit from snagging on the vinyl and causing cracking or shattering to occur.
Gently push and allow the pilot hole to be created. There may be multiple layers of vinyl to get through where the sections overlap, so take your time!
Step 4. Drill the final larger hole
After creating a small pilot hole, you are ready to start drilling your large holes. Change the drill bit to the size that you need – aim for about 1/16″ of an inch larger than the screw or fixing you plan to use. Vinyl expands and contracts significantly with temperature changes, so you need to drill a slightly larger hole to allow for this.
Remember to drill in reverse! As per the step above, setting your tool in reverse will reduce the changes of the blade on the drill bit catching and shattering a chunk out of your vinyl!
Step 5. Use screws to mount your fixture
Now you have completed the holes, you are ready to fix your screws through and mount whatever you need to on the surface.
Set your power-drill on low speed with the ratchet on a low setting, or use a hand screwdriver and gently screw through until the screw bites solidly into the framing behind. Don’t tighten too much or you risk shattering or cracking.
Step 6. Add Caulking around holes to seal
Use caulking to seal around the holes to prevent moisture from getting inside your vinyl siding.
If you are drilling multiple holes, repeat the steps above for each hole. Here is a detailed article on how to drill multiple perfect holes.
How do I drill larger holes in vinyl siding safely?
Follow the steps above, then you’ll use a hole saw or Forstner bit located in the centre of the pilot hole you already created. Locate the center of the hole saw or forstner bit into the pilot hole you have already drilled in the steps above.
Important: Keep your drill in reverse mode! Start drilling slowly in reverse and let the drill bit gently begin to cut through the vinyl.
Keep the drill in reverse all the way through the insulation also, to avoid pulling and tearing.
If there is timber or plywood behind, then you’ll need to switch the drill into the forward mode, once you are through the vinyl and any insulation material.
How do I replace damaged vinyl siding?
Following the steps we have mentioned above will considerably lower the possibility of damaging the vinyl siding while drilling or installing a fixture.
You shouldn’t be too worried about the damaged siding as it is pretty straightforward to replace. It is quite easy to replace a section of damaged siding without hurting the undamaged piece.
All you need to do is release the siding from the nailing strip to properly remove it. After releasing the damaged vinyl siding section, push the new siding into place and leave a sufficient gap for expansion due to cold or warm weather.
How do I use vinyl siding clips?
Here’s a handy vinyl siding tip! Instead of drilling vinyl siding, you can use no-drill vinyl siding clips to fasten lightweight items to an external wall. Also known as ‘vinyl siding hooks’ or ‘no hole clips’,
These handy little devices just slide under the seam on your siding and clip into position. This means you can avoid drilling into vinyl siding altogether, reducing the risk of damage to your home.
FAQs on drilling into Vinyl Siding
Can I put a screw in vinyl siding?
Yes you can fasten screws into vinyl siding, but you should always drill first to avoid cracking or shattering. Use stainless steel screws, vinyl-coated screws or zinc-coated screws to avoid them
rusting with exposure to the weather.
How do I mount or hang items safely on vinyl siding?
Using the siding hook is the easiest and safest method to hang items from the siding. The hook needs to slip into the grooves between the adjacent sections and click into the right place.
What kind of drill bit do you use for vinyl siding?
You should use a sharp boring tool with a diameter of 1/8 inch for drilling into the vinyl siding. Make sure to select the correct component because using a thicker diameter can cause damage to the vinyl structure. But avoid using the masonry bit as it will result in severe cracks and chips in your siding.
What is vinyl siding made from?
Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. This material is durable and robust, making it a great choice for protecting your home from the elements. PVC resin is also environmentally friendly since it does not contain any lead or petroleum-based products.
What’s behind vinyl siding?
Behind vinyl siding is typically a substrate such as wood or plywood sheathing. The sheathing provides structure and support for the siding, and can also provide insulation to help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Additionally, there may be a vapor barrier behind the siding to prevent moisture from entering the wall cavity. It is important to check what type of substrate you have before drilling into the siding in order to avoid any damage.
What is vinyl siding?
Vinyl siding is an affordable, low-maintenance solution for external wall treatment on a building.
Here are some of the benefits that vinyl siding provides;
- Easy to install and replace if necessary
- It is more durable than other types of siding such as wood or aluminum
- Helps reduce energy costs due to its insulating properties
- Comes in a variety of colors, styles and textures for added visual appeal
- Resistant to rotting, fading and termites
- Easy to clean with just soap and water
- Seals out moisture which can prevent mold growth inside walls
- Can be drilled into easily with the right equipment
Is it good to screw into vinyl siding?
Obviously, you screw into siding for various purposes. But the consideration is that you should use vinyl-coated screws, and the screw must have a Phillips head for easier operation.
How to hang stuff safely on vinyl siding?
Using the siding hook is the easiest and safest method to hang items from the siding. The hook needs to slip into the grooves between the adjacent slates and click into the right place. This siding hook will let you hang the item up to 12 pounds. Many homeowners use this hook to hang seasonal decorations on a siding.
How to locate a stud in the vinyl siding?
Using a good quality stud finder, you can find the stud under the vinyl siding easily. Despite this, rap strongly on the wall and find the source of the solid sound which indicates the stud location. Another hint is to find out the location of switch boxes and outlets, as its one side must be attached to the stud.
In Summary: Drilling into Vinyl Siding
So, can I drill into vinyl siding? Yes – this is a straightforward task and can be achieved using a sharp drill bit. The key thing to note is to drill in reverse to reduce the risk of shattering the material.
For fixing objects to the siding, use stainless steel screws or zinc-coated screws which will not rust when exposed to the weather.
Additionally, it is important to consider what type of substrate is behind the vinyl siding in order to ensure that the drill bit does not damage or puncture any underlying structure.
If you want a great alternative to drilling, use stainless steel hooks which are specifically designed to mount on vinyl siding without the need for drilling.
With these tips in mind, you can safely and effectively drill into vinyl siding for your next project!