Warped/Buckled Vinyl Siding

By Todd Fratzel on Siding & Trim

Vinyl Siding – Causes of Warping and Buckling

Buckling Vinyl SidingWe’ve received several emails recently asking why their vinyl siding is warping and buckling. Warped and buckled vinyl siding is one of the most common results of improper installation. If you’re vinyl siding looks like the sample photo then you need to read this article.

What Causes Warped or Buckled Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl Siding Should “Hang” From The Wall

Vinyl siding may look like wood lap siding but it definitely should not be installed the same way! Vinyl siding is actually designed to hang from the fasteners so that it can easily move from side to side as it expands and contracts due to thermal expansion. If the nails that support vinyl siding are driven “home” they prevent the siding from moving and the result is shown in the photo.

Is Your Vinyl Siding Nailed To Tight?

If you suspect your vinyl siding is having a problem you can easily test it to see if it’s been installed improperly. Without taking apart your siding you should be able to grab ahold of a siding panel and move it from side to side about 1/4 to 1/2 inch fairly easily. If you can’t move the panel then it was probably nailed to tightly. As you can see in the adjacent photo the nails should not be fully driven “home”. If you notice the head of the nail is not even touching the surface of the nailing hem.

Can Buckled / Warped Vinyl Siding Be Fixed?

Unfortunately most vinyl siding cannot be fixed once it buckles. Buckled or warped vinyl siding will hold the that shape forever in most cases. To fix the problem the damaged pieces must be removed and replaced. This is one reason that it’s a very good idea to save extra pieces of siding when you build a new home or have a new siding job done.

Final Thoughts

If you’re having new siding installed on your home take the time to inspect the nailing. Ask your contractor how they like to install the siding and be sure it move freely. It’s much easier to confront this problem while they are still on site instead a year down the road on a hot summers day with buckled siding!

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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49 Comments

  1. Great article about siding. Very informative. Thanks!

  2. Carrie says:

    We had to get new siding once the house next door to ours burned down and the heat warped one side of our house. Our insurance paid for all new siding, we signed with a contractor who installed $16,000 worth of siding in May, then one year later in July, I noticed it was severely warping on the corners. The installer blamed the product and manufacturers rep came out and blamed it on “window glare” since we have several large windows out back and our house faces south west.
    I’m at a loss of what to do. Our insurance people say that they can’t do anything as we picked the contractor. How in the world can I resolve this? Is there something to put on the windows so it doesn’t happen again, should we choose to patch that one side??!

    • Todd says:

      Carrie – Obviously without seeing it I can’t tell you what happened. However, there’s no way in my opinion that window glare caused it. Vinyl siding buckles when it’s installed incorrectly…nothing more…nothing less. This is not a manufacturer issue..it’s INSTALLATION. I’d bet money that the nails are too tight. I would call a reputable siding company and ask them to come out and inspect the installation. Ask them to check how tight the nails are. If they tell you it’s too tight, get an estimate from them to fix it. Then call the old installer, show him what you’ve got and ask him how he wants to resolve it. If he’s a reputable contractor he’ll stand up for his work. If not…well…hate to say it but you know what your next action would be.

      • jdypat says:

        I had new vinyl siding installed on my home because of damage done by a tornado.
        the siding was delivered and I felt it was not as good grade as the original and i told the contractor that.
        I searched the intenet on grades of vinyl siding and with my limited ability i guess I just couldnt find anything to advise me and I let the man go ahead and install the siding tho i felt it was inferior to what I had.
        the contractor convinced me, it took him a long time to do it but he beat me up with his words and his superior attitude and he swore to me with Gods name that it was the same quality as what i had.
        I kept the old siding and I installed it on the sides of my back porch.
        As I was installing the old siding to the porch, I ran short a bit and I found a peice of the new siding by my house. I used that one peice to finish up the side of the south side of my porch.
        A few days later I was sitting on my porch in the morning and I was looking at the siding from the inside of the porch. The old siding totally blocked out the sun, but the one new peice of siding allowed me to even see the limbs of a tree as it swayed in the wind. I had my grandson go and hold up his hand over the new siding and i could see it plainly.
        The old siding that was originally on the house totally blocked the sun. The new siding was hardly more than a gray bed sheet hung there and I know that this means loss of energy to the house, especially since my home is in an area where it gets direct sun to the south and west of the house.
        I contaced the contractor and he wrote me a letter that would burn your skin to touch it.
        Also the vinyl is warping in the sun, and he told me while using Gods name that if it did he would come back with a crew of men and take it down and put it up right.
        I had none of this in writing and he denies any responsibility for this.
        I intend to take him to court over this. Small claims. I need some type of vertification that the grade of vinyl is inferior to the old that I originally had and that he wrote on the estimate that he installed the same quality to the house.
        No one in my area seems to understand what “totally blocks the sun” means, compared to opaque and what that involves.
        Can you help me.?
        Im a grandma who retired to this part of the county for my old age and it is eating me alive to know that this man made such a huge amount of money on this (insurance) job and that I have this inferior siding on my home.
        pat gatley
        1909 hwy 48 s
        centerville tn 37033
        931 7299437
        please respond..

        • Todd says:

          Pat – Sorry to hear your story. I recommend either speaking with another local contractor or local attorney. Most vinyl siding comes in a few standard “thicknesses” which typically associate with a good, better, best type of things for siding. Typically 0.040″ is a basic “contractor grade” siding or “GOOD”. 0.046″ is a really decent upgrade which performs very well or “BETTER” while some siding can be purchased up to 0.055″ which is a premium grade or “BEST” type. It would be very easy for you to have someone measure the thickness of the two types using calipers to determine the existing vs new siding thickness.

  3. Amanda says:

    We installed new siding on our house a year ago. My husband and father did the installation. The north and east sides of our house are beautiful; however the south and west sides which get direct sun have warped. When my husband went to replace the siding on the west side the nails literally fell out when he lifted the siding. The nails were hardly nailed in anymore. Would the buckling and warping cause the nails to pull out? He did replace the siding using longer nails and making sure that the siding shifted appropriately and the warping happened again. Is this because of direct sunlight? We are so frustrated and don’t want to spend anymore money if it’s going to happen again. Any help would be appreciated. The siding was TimberCrest 4.5″. Thank you!

    Amanda

    • Amanda says:

      ps-the grade of our siding is .046

    • Todd says:

      Amanda – There are several issues that can cause siding warping. They include:

      – Improper nailing (Basically nailing too tight or nails tight against one side of the slot).

      – Siding too tight at trim and / or splices. Siding must have a gap at window and door trim and also at the splice so that it can move. Every time I’ve seen buckled siding it’s due to one of those reasons. There is VERY LITTLE forgiveness so it’s extremely important to look at each of those details and be certain the panel can slide from side to side easily.

      What color is the siding?

  4. sparkle says:

    if siding buckles and is starting to ripple will that effect the struture of house at all

    • Todd says:

      Sparkle – No….it’s just a sign of poor siding installation in 99% of the cases.

      • Shane says:

        Todd for a professional you should do more research. Let me provide you with some.
        Not all siding buckling and warping is from poor installation. In 2008 new darker colors were introduced to the vinyl world and now two to three years laters these dark siding colors are buckling and warping due to heat attraction that they draw from direct sunlight. You can have the best installer in the world and it will buckle and warp. Do yourself a favor if you have walls that get direct sunlight for extended hours during the summertime and you get temps over 90 degrees then put a lighter color vinyl siding. You will be glad you did.

        • Todd says:

          I actually disagree with you Shane. We have several homes with dark gray siding, good quality, 0.046″ thickness, with no buckling at all. While darker colors pose a challenge there are two issues to think about.

          1. Choose a good quality siding product with a thickness of 0.046″ or greater.
          2. Pay VERY close attention to the installation.

          What research would you have me do? The fact is dark colors can be used if you know what you’re doing.

          • Steve Graber says:

            I agree with Shane. Todd you obviously have not had any experience with the darker colors. I have been installing siding for 40 plus years. There is a problem when you mix dark colors with too thin siding, I don’t care how you install it. I have had pieces that have had absolutely no nails in them (IE undersill clipped pcs) warp. It is a problem with dark, thin and heat coming together. Manufactures need to fix it.

          • Todd Fratzel says:

            Steve – I disagree with you. Not only have we installed a lot of dark siding (we use good quality, typically a 046 panel from CertainTeed), I also have a dark gray on my own house. Sure, in some situations (for example next to a porch roof in a corner), high heat can cause some issues. But a vast majority of problems are poor installation. Even with no nails, if the ends are too tight the piece will warp. Drive around…..is every dark sided house warping? If that was the case…it would no longer be marketed.

  5. Chester Pack says:

    Sir, I have very limited income and the siding on my house buckles terribly and there was no house wrap installed under it– so I am planning to buy a yellow color siding from home depot for 167 per 22sqft and install it myself do you think it is good enough quality

    Also, if my house living space is 1250sqft, does that mean I need 1250 sqft of siding

    • Todd says:

      Chester – Sounds like the previous install job was done poorly. Installing a proper house wrap and installing the siding correctly will certainly make a big difference.

      Siding quality is generally based on thickness. The thicker the siding the less it will buckle and the better it typically looks. Inexpensive siding is generally about 0.038 inch thick. Good quality siding is typically 0.046 inch thick.

      The real key is installing it correctly. If you’ve never done it before it can be quite challenging to do it correctly without some guidance.

      You’ll need to calculate the area of the exterior walls. A house that is 1250 sq ft living space will have a lot more siding than that.

  6. Scott says:

    My house here in MN was resided in 2009 due to storm damage. I upgraded from .040 allside siding to .046 timbercrest by ABTCO. I went with a darker color brown this time (Pecan color) and the west & south sides are buckling at the seems. I had a rep out from ABTCO about a year ago and he told me it was a know defect in that siding. Since I slacked off and did not put in my claim, I am now doing it as today my siding looked terrible in the sun.
    Does this sound correct to you if the majority of the buckling/warping is only where the seems are?
    If you would like to see a picture, click the link below.

    http://files.andovermn.net/Scott/warped_siding.jpg

    -Scott

    • Todd says:

      Scott – That sure does look like some sort of defect. Typically when siding is installed too tight (nails are driven too tight against the sheathing) you can get buckling but it usually happens all over the pieces and NOT just the splices. In your case the buckling is ONLY at the splices which makes me VERY suspicious of the product. It likely needs to be completely replaced.

      Good luck.

  7. Erin says:

    Todd,

    We have recently made an offer on a home built in 2007, had a home inspection done yesterday and the home inspector pointed out that the siding is rippled and warped on one section of the house. I brought up my concerns to my realtor as there is wording in the contract that the conditions pending the sale can be removed upon our acceptance of the inspection. The sellers realtor is trying to get me to accept the inspection and is saying the rippled siding is purely cosmetic. My question is will rippled siding cause us problems in the future? We live in a part of the country with a lot of wind, hail, hot summers and the occasional cold winter. My concern is that this rippled portion will not protect the house against the elements. I don’t know if it will be possible to replace just that section and match colors or if the entire siding will need to be redone. I am assuming the rippling and warping is from poor installation when the house was built. Any input from you would be appreciated. Thx

    • Todd says:

      Erin – Warped siding is indeed the result of poor installation. However, first you should know that vinyl siding (regardless of quality) is not 100% “weather proof”. What I mean is vinyl siding even installed properly will let some water/weather get behind it. So the real question is was the proper flashing, building wrap etc used prior to installing the vinyl.

      Having said that, warped siding really is just a cosmetic defect.

      You can replace it, color is almost always hard to match and even sometimes the actual siding is hard to match.

      Good luck.

  8. Mike says:

    My house is just about 8 years old, 100% vinyl siding. I noticed I was getting water in an upstairs bedroom. After having a few contractors out to find the source of the water, they all agreed that the water was getting in behind the vinyl siding, and they all agreed that my siding was very poorly installed. After walking around the house with them, I was appalled at what they pointed out. They told me that they would be shocked if I don’t have more leaks that I just haven’t noticed yet. Super! I did contact my insurance agent about the leak, but this was before we knew what the cause was. My agent told me that they couldn’t cover the cost to repair the issue, but they could only cover the damages (drywall, padding, paint). Of course I wasn’t going to fix the damage without knowing for sure what the cause was. I also have a few areas that are close to windows that are warping pretty badly.

    What are my options? I don’t have the money re-side the house, but there is no way I can leave it the way it is. My builder is out of business, filed BK 2 years ago. Will insurance cover the poor installation? Is the city inspector at all liable for passing the installation?

    Thanks.

    Mike

    • Todd says:

      Mike – I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. Your story isn’t all that uncommon now that the economy and construction have slowed. The crappy 2nd class contractors are all going out of business and leaving a nasty trail of poorly built projects in their wake.

      First let’s start with the city. You won’t like my answer but the truth is they have zero liability for your situation (at least in a court of law…so don’t waste your time and money with them). Their job really is to be sure that things are built safely and meet a minimum standard, something vinyl siding just doesn’t fall under.

      You can try your insurance company but it’s highly unlikely they will cover the expenses.

      What you’ll need to do is get several contractors to give you a price to fix the major installation issues that are most likely to cause leaks. If you have a good idea now where those problems are, I’d put them in writing and have each contractor estimate the cost of repairs on that VERY specific list. Maybe you can at least stop the leaking without spending your retirement. As you well know, the leaks MUST be fixed as soon as possible or you’ll likely have far worse problems very soon.

      Before picking a new contractor, do your homework, find someone with great references.

      Good luck…keep your chin up.

  9. debra deal says:

    when is it too cold to put up vinyl siding

    • Todd says:

      You can install it at any temperature…however…it is much more difficult. You’ve got to account for temperature shortening and the vinyl becoming very brittle during installation.

  10. Rick says:

    I recently sided a house using abtco D6 siding in umber which is a dark brown. Two hours after installation it started to bubble it had circles the size of pop cans. It was the south and west side of the house which receives most of the sun this time of year. I filled out warranty info. The represent ice came out and blamed it on improper nailing. I’ve been a contractor for ten years and sided over 20 homes. They denied the claim so I took off the siding there was a piece or two that were questionable but wouldn’t be affected in two hours of direct sun. So I re installed two squares. Making sure it was nailed in the center and siding could move I received a call a day later saying the problem had acured again. The house had the oler 4 by 8 sheets of black celotex which was later covered Typar. No idea what to do abtco is going to put the problem on me because they don’t want to lose money and I’ve already spent money replacing the siding. Any help?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Rick – Dark vinyl siding is really tough. My experience is the siding has to have the nails not even touching the nail flange so it’s extremely loose and able to slide with no effort. The siding guys all hand their hat on their installation guidelines. So when push comes to shove you’ve got to follow their spec perfectly. Do you know what thickness that siding is? If it’s thinner than 0.046 I wouldn’t have even installed it being a dark color.

      • Michael says:

        Todd,
        I have been selling darker and even custom colors to contractors for many years now and proud to say that none have buckled or warped due to the installations are done with our patented Glide-Lock Siding Hanger. Not only is the fastening an issue but also with darker colors you need 5/8″ for proper expansion and contraction. We have siding panels 25′-38′ some very dark and in the brown family of colors and again no warping or buckling, so check out the Glide-Lock Siding hanger. It is low cost and proven effective, in fact you get a lifetime written warranty including against warping and buckling. Vinyl siding is generally a great product but the empirical evidence of bad siding is everywhere and 99.8% of the time is due to improper installation. The vinyl siding institute and manufactures instructions are very specific and must be followed to the letter of the law or else you end up with what you have or worse. Having over 30 years in this industry in manufacturing, distribution, sales, product training and installation training I have concluded that it is virtually “Impossible” to install 100% correctly. After all the average siding job requires over 2500 fasteners and typically contractors use nails. We have a product that is proven and effective for NO buckling, Ni warping with vinyl siding. The Glide-Lock Siding Hanger locks into the positive lock behind the nail hem and a screws fastener attaches the hanger and siding to the wall. There are no fasteners in the siding panels them self. Now the siding can expand and contract freely during temperature changes, like a train on a track. The screw has over 500 times more holding power than the nail and this installation adds a Lifetime Warranty including warping and buckling to any siding that it is installed with. Please visit http://www.GlideLockSiding.com for more information.
        Choose your siding very wisely, but the installation method even wiser.

  11. James says:

    Hi Todd. I am not a professional at installing siding, but i am building a shop/garage and decided to install it myself. I have ran into a problem with my walls not being straight. I have a few spots that bow out a bit and didn’t realize it until i installed half the siding on one wall and all on another wall. I have tried to bring the nails out more in the spots that are bowed in but it doesn’t seem to work. Is my only option to take it all off and straighten my wall or put some sort of foam on the wall? I’m really lost and can’t afford to hire anyone. This is the first time that i have built anything by myself so u can probably figure out how that has gone…lol…Anyways would appreciate your advice if possible. Thanks

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      I guess my first question is how “bowed” is it? If you send me an email from the contact page I’ll reply, then you can send me some pictures if you like. Vinyl siding can cover up small framing issues, but nothing significant.

    • Michael says:

      James,
      Depending on how much the walls are bowed sometimes adding flat insulation board will lessen the appearance. You can use the Glide-Lock Siding Hanger Installation System which will allow the siding to float over most imperfections.

  12. Michelle says:

    Can I use silicone caulk on improperly installed vinyl j-channels around my windows and doors? I was told the corners were not done correctly where the horizontal and vertical j-channels meet at the corners. Thank you!

  13. Mike says:

    I recently installed single 8″ vinyl siding on a new constructed garage. The Homeowner painted the siding with an exterior latex paint beige in color, The siding has a buckle ripple wavy condition soon after it was painted. I can move the siding as required for proper installation. The area in question is on the East and West walls of the garage with direct sunlight The North side has no signs of ripple wavy condition. The paint was applied in direct sunlight with temperatures in the 80’s What is a root cause for this happening, should I contact the manufacturer or could it be from the paint or direct sunlight ?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Seems like it’s time to call the siding people. My first question is why paint it? :) Was it painted right after install? or was it painted later and buckling happened after the paint? Most likely the siding company will come out, they will pull some siding to check the nails. If the nails are snug at all they will blame it on install. I’ve been down this road and they will look for any reason on install. Good luck.

  14. Bill says:

    Todd,

    Hope this finds you well. I am about to purchase a new construction home in Moyock NC and when I look down the sides of the house you can see where there is already waving going on, I am VSI certified, do you think it is out line to ask the builder to fix those sides of the house when we put in an offer?

    Best Regards,

    Bill

  15. john verbich says:

    is it possible that the cause for the bowing is the shifting of the house? we are on a pilings.

  16. Joel in Stuarts Draft, Virginia says:

    Lots of good advice on here. Currently selling a home that has some buckled siding that from what one repair guy said and you have also said, is from bad installation. Lots of houses in the neighborhood have the same problem and the builder who built them (about 10 years ago) has since gone out of business.

    Short of pulling it all off and putting it back up properly there is really nothing to do. Looks like we’ll have to give the buyer a credit. The good thing is I now know a lot more about siding than I ever have. Thanks for the web page.

  17. schmitty says:

    I have an ‘L’ shape deck that faces east. The wood deck that is parallel to the house is ok. The wood deck that is perpendicular to the house has vinyl siding warping. How do I prevent the siding from warping. I thought of some kind don’t of outdoor covering of some sort. The siding was painted a couple years ago dark brow. Any ideas?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Painting the siding a dark color is the issue. I’m sure on the one side the sun is much stronger (it’s not the orientation of the deck, its the orientation of the wall with respect to the sun) and that is causing the buckling. When we use dark vinyl siding, we use a heavy weight siding, minimum of 0.046 thickness, to counter the heat gain issues.

  18. Juanita F. says:

    A section of the vinyl siding on my newly built house that faces the south has started to warp. My building company claims it’s from the neighbor’s window that is reflecting the sun and, in fact, the damage appears to follow the trajectory of the sun’s rays. Since I’ve only been in the house 17 months, the company may approach my neighbor to replace his window. Is there any type of non-reflective glass that could be recommended as a replacement to the neighbor?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      How close if your neighbors house? I’d suspect poor installation before blaming the window. I’ve never used a non reflective product on windows.

  19. Kent Schwab says:

    Todd, Six years ago I had new siding put on my house. The siding is the type that has the foam backing already attached. It is a dark brown color.
    They installed the siding directly over the top of the old batten board siding. After about 3 years we noticed the siding had ripples in some spots. The installer as well as the siding manufacturer rep came out and looked at it. After several months they said they were going to replace the entire job.
    A little over a year after the second install we have the same problem and one spot is actually coming apart between planks. I called them about 3 months ago.

    They came out once again and I hadn’t heard back until today. I received what I believe is a voucher to have it re installed once again at no cost for product or installation.
    What changes in the product do you recommend? Should I stay with the pre foam backing product or change that? Should I change the color? Should I have someone look at the siding before they remove the current siding to see if it is too tight? I’m getting tired and embarrassed from putting new siding on every couple years. Im sure some of the neighbors are wondering what”s up with me doing this every couple years.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks Kent

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Kent – Dark vinyl siding continues to be problematic for the industry. I have a rather dark grey on my house and while it hasn’t been horrible, there are areas that the sun has caused excessive movement. If you’re going to do this again I’d at least suggest moving to a color that’s not quite as dark, that will certainly help. I don’t believe the insulation is bad, in fact it likely helps. I would certainly be sure anyone that is interested in the job sees the current issues. I’d also ask the supplier to do a site visit early in the installation to be CERTAIN the product is being installed to their specs.

  20. Jessica says:

    We had our realty conpany contract out for our siding repairs after a hurricane- they chose island time cleaning “and construction ” (so I’m told) who did a terrible job on all of it. Most importantly they did a crap job on our siding and nailed straight through the front of the siding- they changed $250 to buy the 5 pieces of siding we needed to replace and are charging $800 for the labor to put it up- after seeing this job we refused to pay unless done correctly- our reasoning- it was done incorrectly and lazily and in order to sell to someone w a VA loan- siding must be 100% perfect. This WILL NEED REDONE and we should not have to pay twice when it was done incorrectly- they have now filed a a lein on our home until the labor is paid- I called her after she sent a pic of the lein and told her that was not done professionally and we will not be paying if it isn’t fixed the correct way/ she is now arguing that to repair the base of the peak ( 5 strips) she would have to replace all of the siding on said peak of house- she states she “repaired” the spot and if we want her to “fix” it correctly it will be a few thousand more- I’m furious. I know this isn’t correct- I want a professional that can let me know (whAt I believe I already know) that these 5 strips can in fact be redone correctly without taking the entire 28 pieces of siding off and redoing it-

  21. Mark says:

    I had my siding installed three months ago (.44)
    It is formed hundreds of softball size bottles some inches apart some of their own. They all move a quarter to a half an inch and are not nailed too tight. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It in the east and west side mostly but south and north too.
    I do not have and house’s near me. Country living :)
    The manufacture has been looking at it for three months.
    I’m starting to think I need a lawyer.
    I wish I could post pictures here. You all would say OMG.

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