How to Install Vinyl Siding on a Shed

So, you’re in the final phases of building that shed that’s going to help you solve some of the storage problems you’ve been having. You finally have a place for the lawnmower, wheelbarrow and your wife’s growing collection of gardening tools. You’ve decided you want that shed to match the siding on your house. But, you’ve never worked with siding before. You need to know how to install vinyl siding on a shed. For this project you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Planning and preparing
  • Install corner posts
  • Level and nail starter strips
  • Install J-Channel around windows and door
  • Install Siding Panels
  • Install the Top Row
  • Installing Siding on Gable Ends
  • Install Siding Around Gable Vents

The siding on your home was professionally installed. Is it time to bring the pros into side the shed? Don’t open your wallet for the pros just yet. You’ve done the hard part, building the shed. You can handle the vinyl siding.

How to Install Vinyl Siding on Shed

What Is Vinyl Siding?

You’ve seen plenty of vinyl siding. It’s on your home, on your neighbor’s home and most new construction. Vinyl siding has been the most used exterior covering on residential houses since the 1980s. But what exactly is it? Vinyl is a durable form of plastic used to cover the exterior of homes.

Its purpose is twofold: to weather-proof your home and to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Vinyl siding is comprised of a variety of vinyl parts that are used to securely install the material to your home. Each of these parts is required for proper siding installation.

Starter strips: as their name implies, starter strips are thin strips used to start a course of vinyl at the base of the structure.

Corner trim: used to finish off both inside and outside corners of the structure.

J-channel: Think of J-channel as the trim of your vinyl siding. It is used to cover and finish the ends of the vinyl siding including around windows and doors. J-channel is flexible to allow for its use around curved surfaces. Wider dimension J-channel can also be used around window and door casings.

Utility trim: Also known as undersill trim, this trim is used as a finish-piece under window sills and soffits or in any time that the tabs have been removed from the siding.

F-channel: If you do have soffits on your shed, you will also need F-channel, which is used to finish off the corner where the vinyl meets the soffit.

Why use vinyl siding? Vinyl offers several advantages over standard wood siding for your shed. Siding is your shed’s first defense against the elements.

It’s what will keep the snow, rain, hail and sleet from infiltrating the parts of your home that are vulnerable to water damage. In short, siding is vital to protecting your shed and ensuring that it remains mold and rot free for many years to come.

There are many options for siding, but why vinyl? The material is very durable, essentially eliminating the need for maintenance.

Unlike wood, vinyl will not rot or deteriorate. It also eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming repainting. Dirty vinyl siding can be restored to its original beauty through simple pressure washing.

How to Install Vinyl Siding on a Shed

While the various pieces required for installation may at first seem daunting, installing vinyl siding is not a complicated DIY project for sheds, which do not include some of the complexities and safety hazards associated with siding an entire home. No 20-foot extension ladders needed for this project.

You have a variety of options to consider when deciding on what kind of siding to pick. I detail these options in my post 9 Popular Shed Siding Options.

Step 1: Planning and Preparation

Before you start thinking about which color vinyl to buy, you need to decide what sheathing you are going to use to create the walls of your shed.

You have a few options when selecting sheathing. The most common options are plywood and OSB with OSB being the cheaper of the two.

Use half-inch plywood or OSB for the exterior wall. This material is thick enough to make a strong wall while also providing a solid structure in which to attach your siding.

Calculate how much sheathing you need by first determining the area of the walls to be sheathed. Then divide that number by 32 (the area of a sheet of sheathing), making sure to round up.

You will need 14 pieces of 4×8’ sheathing to cover a 10×14’ shed that is eight feet tall. OSB sheathing runs about $7 a sheet at Home Depot.

As is standard with vinyl installation on homes, you will also likely want to install a water-resistive barrier between your sheathing and the vinyl. Why? Although vinyl will protect your shed from direct water, house wrap provides an additional barrier that prevents water from reaching your walls.

House wrap is specially designed to allow water vapor to pass through to the exterior of the building but won’t allow moisture in. If moisture is allowed to collect on the wall structure of your shed, it will lead to mold and rot.

You have two options to consider: Tyvek, which is commonly used in new construction, and an older solution: tar paper.

Tyvek offers some advantages to the installation. It is generally wider and lighter, making it easier to install. This advantage is significant when wrapping a whole house.

However, for a smaller structure such as a shed consider using tar paper.

Although an older technology, tar paper does offer several advantages. Unlike house wrap, tar paper will absorb any water that does happen to infiltrate your siding and will dry quickly. Plastic housewraps in comparison will trap water and take much longer to dry.

Although house wraps like Tyvek may be easier to install on a home for professional builders, it can be frustratingly difficult for the DIY-er who may not have extra sets of hands to help out. The material is paper-thin and comes in large sheets, making it difficult to hold in place during installation.

This is significant because house wrap needs to be installed correctly to serve as an effective moisture barrier. Improperly installed house wrap can trap moisture in the wall, causing more problems than it prevents.

Tar paper, in comparison, comes in three-foot rolls and is stiffer, making it easier to install. Felt paper; however, will tear more easily, so it does require some care in that regard.

Each roll will cover about 400 square feet. So, to determine how much you need, calculate the area of the surface to be covered in tar paper. Divide that number by 400 and round up.

For our 10’x14’ shed, two rolls will be more than enough with plenty left over for another project. Rolls of tar paper cost $15.75 per roll at Home Depot.

Gable Vents

In addition to protecting your house from moisture, you also need to consider the importance of ventilation. Gases and odors can build up in a poorly ventilated shed from such items as gasoline, fertilizers or a lawnmower covered in lawn clippings.

You also need to contend with heat, which can turn your shed into an oven, and moisture, which leads to mold and potential rot. As I covered in my article about better shed ventilation, you need to consider including a gable when installing vinyl siding on your shed.

Gable vents allow your shed to breathe. These vents can be installed just under the roofline at the top of the short side of your shed.

They are typically louvered to allow air to flow through without allowing rain in. They also add an attractive look to your shed.

These vents can be purchased from Home Depot and range at a price from about $25 to $50 depending on size and style. For this project we’ll use a 14”x14” Ply Gem vinyl vent from Home Depot for about $27.

Materials and Tools

Now that you’ve prepped for your siding install, it’s time to purchase that siding. This can initially feel like a daunting task given all the different types of vinyl parts that go into siding a structure. Let’s go through the calculations and determine what you’ll need.

Calculate the number of vinyl panels you will need by measuring the surface area of the walls to be sided. Multiply the height times the width of each wall then add the total area together.

For each triangle-shaped area, measure the height times half the width then add them to your total. Finally, calculate the area of any windows and doors that you have and subtract this from your total as you of course won’t be siding over your windows.

TIP: Look at the total you’ve calculated then add 10% to cover miscalculations and waste from trimming. This may increase your cost slightly, but it’s worth it.

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and having to run back to your local home improvement store to get more building material.

Using this method of calculating for our 10×14’ shed, you will need 37 pieces of siding (10 pieces for the back, 8 pieces for the windowed side, 9 pieces for the other side, and 10 pieces for the front).

Each box contains 24 pieces, so you will need to purchase two boxes of siding for this project. Two boxes will cover what you need plus plenty of extra for miscalculations.

Siding can vary greatly in cost depending on brand and design, but a standard case of dutch lap siding runs about $160 at Home Depot.

Next, measure the linear footage of your shed to determine what trim accessories you will need to buy. For a 10×14’ shed you will need four corner pieces measuring 8’ each for the four corners of your structure.

Make sure you consider the number of parts you need. Corner pieces generally come in 10-foot lengths, so you will need to buy four pieces to cover each corner. Corner posts are about $18 a piece.

You will also need to purchase drip caps to run across the top of any doors or windows. Measure the top of each to determine how much to purchase. You will need enough starter strips to cover the entire length and width of the house.

For our 10×14’ shed, you will need 48 feet of starter strips. Starter strips come in 10’ lengths, so divide your total by 10 and round up. You will need to buy five starter strips for this project. Starter strips run about $7 a piece at Home Depot.

J-channels are used to trim around doors and windows. Measure the perimeter of each door and window. J-channel comes in 12.5’ lengths, so measure the height and width of each door and window, divide by 12 and round up.

A 3×2’ window would require one length of J-channel. A 6×7’ door opening would require two lengths of 20’ J-channel at about $6 a piece.

If your shed has eaves, then you’ll need to add soffits to your supply list. Soffits come in standard 12’ lengths. Measure the length of your soffits.

Remember to calculate the length of your eaves for your sheds with gable ends. You can go to the trouble of calculating the hypotenuse of your gable eave, or you can just assume that you will need each soffit to be a little longer than half of the length of the sides of your shed to account for the slope of the gable.

To attach your vinyl, you will need fasteners. Siding will be exposed to the elements, so make sure you use aluminum or galvanized steel nails.

Nail heads shouldn’t be smaller than 5/16” in diameter. Your nails should be long enough to penetrate 3/4 of an inch into the wood framing of your shed to ensure it is securely attached.

Use #11 1-1/2-inch electro-galvanized steel roofing nails, which cost about $4 for a one-pound box, to attach your siding.

Before you start installing, it’s imperative you familiarize yourself with the nailing rules for siding. When driving in nails, do not nail too tightly.

Make sure you leave a minimum gap of 1/32” between the nail head and the nail hem of the vinyl piece. The vinyl should move freely from side to side. This gap will allow for expansion and contraction with the weather.

Nailing too tightly will cause the vinyl to become damaged and potentially come loose as this expansion and contraction occurs.

Of course, you will need to cut your vinyl to fit your shed. You will need tin snips to make vertical cuts on your vinyl. For long horizontal cuts use a utility knife.

You may also choose to use a circular saw or miter saw to make the cutting process a bit faster. Make sure to flip the blade in your circular saw if you choose this route, so the blade doesn’t chew up the vinyl.

Step 2: Install Soffit and Fascia (Optional)

If you’re shed has eaves, you will need to begin with soffit and fascia installation. Soffits are used to enclose the underside of the eave. Soffit comes in 1’ wide 12’ long pieces and costs around $15 per piece. For this project you will need two pieces of the soffit.

You will need to begin by first installing a soffit receiving channel onto the wall of the shed. Attach J-channel directly to the wood soffit.

Nail strips of J-channel along the edge of the eave at intervals of every 8 to 12”. Nail additional strips of J-channel along the side of the shed, making sure it is in line with the J-channel nailed into the eave.

Cut the soffit panel to a width that fits the span between the shed and the edge of the fascia board. Measure from the wall to the fascia board, then subtract 1/2” to allow for expanding and contracting. Use your tin snips or miter saw with a reversed blade to cut.

Once cut, insert the panel into the receiving channel, making sure the panel is square. Then nail the other end of the panel into the fascia board.

Make sure to position the nail in the center of each slot to allow the soffit to expand and contract. Remember, do not nail tightly.

For corners, install a transitional channel and miter cut your panels to fit. Miter the soffit channels and install. For gabled soffits, install two J-channels back to back at the peak of the gable to receive the soffit.

When installing the fascia, make sure to cut the fascia panels longer than you measure. It’s much easier to cut them to size then to cut a whole new piece if your measurements are off.

Step 3: Install Corner Posts

Install corner posts by cutting them to the length of the shed’s corners, making sure to leave a 1/4” gap at the top of the posts. Place the nails at the top of the posts at the uppermost part of the slot to keep the post in place.

All other nails should be nailed into the center of the slots, again keeping nails 8 to 12” apart. Before you begin nailing, extend a plumb line from the top of the corner to the bottom, and strike a chalk line. Use this line as you are installing the corner post to make sure it is plumb.

For corners that are greater than the length of the corner post, you will need to use multiple pieces and overlap. If this is required, you will need to cut one inch off the nailing flange out to the corner’s face.

Then install the lower post. Slide the upper post over the lower post, allowing a 1/4” gap between the nailing flanges to allow for expansion.

Step 4: Level and Nail Starter Strips

Now you’re ready to begin installing the main portion of your siding. Begin by snapping a chalk line along the bottom of the shed wall that is 1.5” above the bottom edge of sheathing that is the lowest on the shed.

Measure from corner post to corner post leaving an additional 1/4” gap from each post. Attach the starter strips, again nailing in the middle of the tab every 8 to 12”. Continue adding starter strips around the entire shed.

Step 5: Install J-Channel Around Windows and Door

Install drip caps at the top of your windows and doors.

Cut the bottom J-channel, allowing for the width of both side J-channels. Cut notches at the sides of the bottom J-channel to accept the two side J-channels.

Cut mitered 45-degree angles at the bottoms of both side J-channels as well as both sides of the top piece to allow for proper drainage and to create a finished fit. Attach the two side pieces followed by the top piece.

Step 6: Install Siding Panels

It’s time to begin installing your panels finally. When cutting panels make sure to leave a 1/4” gap between panels, corner pieces and J-channels to allow for expanding and contracting.

Begin installation on the lowest wall. Lock the panel on the starter strip and slide it into the corner piece. Make sure the panel is locked into the starter strip.

Then nail the siding into the framing studs at a maximum of every 16”. Always nail beginning in the middle of panels and, as always, make sure to nail in the middle of tabs, making sure to leave a 1/32” gap between the head of the nail and the vinyl. You should be able to move panels from side to side if they are properly installed.

Make sure to check your alignment as you move upward. Overlap seams by one inch and stagger the seams as you move up the wall. No seams should be lined up within three rows of each other.

Vinyl siding is manufactured with a notch to allow for panels to be overlapped without restricting their ability to expand and contract. It’s important to overlap panels by only one half the width of the notch or about 1”. Too much overlapping will not allow the material to expand, resulting in a wavy appearance.

Plan ahead to avoid overlaps in major traffic areas such as the front of the house or the area around a deck.

Step 7: Install Siding Around Shed Windows and Doors

Siding around windows and doors requires a bit of planning. As you begin to build rows of siding up to a window, plan ahead to make sure that a single piece of siding extends past both sides of the window.

You will need to cut out a section of the course that will go around the window for it to fit. Hold the panel up to the window and mark the width of the window on the siding, making sure to allow for a 1/4” clearance for the J-channel. Take additional measurements to determine the height to cut out of the panel.

Using your tin snips, cut the opening for the window out of the panel. You’ll then need to use a snap-lock punch to create tabs in the cut piece of siding.

Add a piece of utility trim under the window, then slide the cut piece of siding under the window and into the utility trim. Use the same process at the top of the window minus the utility trim, which is not needed.

Step 8: Install the Top Row

You’ve reached the top row, so more cutting will be needed to create a finished look. Measure the width needed to complete the top row.

Take measurements in several places along the row to ensure accuracy. As always, add an extra 1/4” to your measurements to account for expanding and contracting.

Install undersill trim.

As with the window pieces, make sure to use your snap-lock punch to add tabs at an interval of every 6” on the cut side of your panel. Install finish trim at the top of the wall. Then install your panel into the undersill trim.

Step 9: Installing Siding on Gable Ends

Installing siding onto your gable ends is not as difficult as it might seem. Start by installing your J-channel trim up both sides of the gable. You will need to miter the ends of both pieces of J-channel that meet at the top of the gable to create a clean look.

To cut the siding at the proper angle, create a template. Take a short piece of siding and lock it into the course, then take another small piece of siding and hold it against the J-channel that runs along the gable.

Mark the slope by running a pencil line along the edge of the first piece onto the piece being held against the gable. Use this as a template to create the cuts for your angles as you make your way up the wall.

Step 10: Install Siding Around Gable Vents

You’ve found the perfect gable vent to compliment the style of your shed and home, but how do you make it work with your siding? Begin by installing the base of the vent per the vent manufacturers instructions.

Once that is completed, you can begin installing the vinyl around the vent base. Use the same process used for doors and windows to measure and cut the vinyl piece that will go around the base.

Again, it’s important to leave a gap for expansion and contraction, so make sure to leave a 1/4” clearance between siding and the base. You can then use full pieces as you build the siding up on either side of the vent base piece.

You will need to take measurements then and cut a piece to fit over the top of the vent. Once your vinyl is in place, complete the vent installation by snapping the face of the vent onto the base.


While installing vinyl siding on a shed may at first seem like a complicated task given the different types of pieces that go into this kind of project, it’s a project that most DIYers can tackle in a weekend. It will cost a modest $600 to side our 10×14’ shed, significant savings over what you’d pay to hire professionals to side your shed.

By following this guide, you can protect the investment you’ve made in your shed with durable vinyl siding without having to shell out a lot of money.

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