Most homeowners who are lucky enough to have vinyl siding find that sooner or later something needs to be attached into the siding or trim. Christmas lights are a great example or maybe a hanging plant. Many times rather than using nails, screws of various sizes are required, and preferred.
Accesorising Vinyl Siding
Rust is the villain when it comes to the right choice of screws for the job. One of the worst things to see on vinyl siding is a streak of rust flowing down from a plain drywall screw. No matter where you live, moisture will cause regular screws to rust and many times the rust shows up rapidly. Even some galvanized screws will rust over time, but there is a secret to choosing the right product.
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Most home improvement stores sell screws in their hardware section. They are available in many lenghths and gauges or diameters. On each box of better quality screws, the manufacturer places a label that clearly identifies where the screw should or should not be used. You would be surprised at how many professionals fail to select the proper screw for the job. A stainless steel screw is the very best, but also the most expensive. Vinyl coated screws are great too. In most cases you can purchase these in rather small quantities. No matter which screw you buy, make sure it is a Phillips head screw because they are the easiest to use.
Obviously, you want to be safe when climbing ladders to drill into the siding. Make sure that your ladder is secure and that the cord for your drill is clear of your work area. You probably will find that cordless drills will work just fine.
Vinyl siding is easy to penetrate, but there are places you want to avoid within the profile of the siding. For siding that has two sections, called "ship lap," there is a rib running horizontally in the middle of the piece. Trying to place the screw through that middle rib can be awkward. The screw tends to wobble a great deal until it penetrates the thickened section. It is much easier to move up or down into the smoother field where you are only penetrating a single layer of vinyl.
Some homes have siding applied over Styrofoam insulation or other fibrous material. Do not screw in those areas of the wall where studs are not present. Make sure that your screw not only penetrates the siding, but that it finds one of those studs. If you miss and the screw is only in the vinyl field, it will work loose and leave a bigger hole and can cause whatever you are hanging to fall and break.
Another area is the vinyl trim found on beams and eaves. This is a flat metal sheet with vinyl covering. Trim is normally applied over solid areas. The trick here to avoid your screw wandering all over the metal trim, is to use a nail set or even just a larger nail and tap a small pilot pit into the trim piece. The screw will stay right there and easily go into the trim.
If you know that you are going to be installing many screws, most hardware stores sell a screw bit that actually holds the screw by itself so you do not have to risk your fingers trying to awkwardly hold a screw while drilling. These bits are magnetized and are relatively inexpensive. When you are up on a ladder trying to reach that last screw...you will be glad you bought that bit. And always remember to be safe working on ladders and with drills.