Vinyl siding offers a low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood siding and a decorative way to protect the exterior of your home. Measuring the height and width of the home's exterior walls helps the installer decide upon the appropriate sizes of vinyl siding to purchase. Manufacturers vary in the vinyl panel sizes they sell, but some basic standards are followed that are helpful to understand before purchasing.
Sizing Vinyl Siding
Similar to other siding products, vinyl is sized by width and length. However, the overall width of a vinyl siding panel may also include the additional width of the nailing hem used to attach the panel to the exterior surface and the interlocking edge detail used to link panels together. When purchasing vinyl siding, it is important to verify the "exposed" width of the siding. The exposed dimension stated on the siding's technical specification sheet is the width that is viewed after installation. Nailing hems and interlocking details usually hide under or interlock with the panels around them, which prevents them from being exposed.
Horizontal siding is used to create various siding styles such as clapboard and Dutch lap. Horizontal lap siding is often referred to by the size or width of a single lap board. For example, 4-inch lap would indicate a 4-inch-wide plank. The lap is created as a panel that includes two or three of the lap planks, however. For example, a 4-inch lap panel usually contains two laps and is referred to as a "double, 4- inch lap panel." A vinyl siding product referred to as a "triple, 3-inch lap panel" would indicate three, 3-inch-wide laps. In these examples, a double 4-inch lap panel would have an 8-inch width plus its nailing hem and interlocking detail. The triple 3-inch lap panel would have an overall width of 9 inches plus its nailing hem and interlocking detail. Overall, horizontal panel sizes typically run between 6 and 10 inches in width. Standard length for horizontal vinyl siding panels is 12 feet.
Vertical vinyl siding is designed to mimic board and batten wood siding and its variations. Vertical vinyl siding is sized differently than horizontal siding and measures plank width on center meaning it indicates the measurement from center point to center point between each plank. A double, 5-inch vertical vinyl panel would indicate two, 5-inch on center planks per panel with an overall panel width of 10 inches. Some manufacturers may refer to the panel's total exposure instead of the panel's total width. Standard vertical panel lengths are 12 feet.
Longer Length Sizes
Seams in vinyl siding installations can be avoided by specifying longer panel lengths. Manufacturers do not typically offer longer lengths in standard vinyl siding sizes. Custom lengths can be requested, but some manufacturers may require installers to purchase a specific number of panels to justify making the longer panel sizes. Some manufacturers offer longer lengths on their premium vinyl siding products. Longer sizes come in 16-, 20- and even 25-foot lengths.
Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.