5 Questions to Ask Your Siding Contractor BEFORE You Hire Him

Before you hire your siding contractor, give him this quiz. If he fails, don't hire him.

We are all familiar with the standard questions to ask your contractor: How long have you been in business? Are you insured? Do you have references? Are you affiliated with any third-party watch dogs or building associations? These are all general questions and almost go without saying. They are common sense to most of us.

But how can you tell if your siding contractor really knows what he is doing? Think about it. A contractor could have favorable answers to all of the above-mentioned questions and even prove to you the legitimacy of his company by showing you proof- an insurance certificate, his BBB rating, references, etc. But, what do these things really prove?

They don't prove that the contractor knows how to install siding. For all you know, he could have been mainly a roofing contractor or interior remodeler. This does not mean he knows anything about siding. So, how can you tell?

Below are 5 SIDING-SPECIFIC questions to ask your siding contractor. Your contractor should know the answers to all of them. If not, choose someone who does.

1. Do you use undersill trim? If so, where? Undersill trim, also called sill trim, utility trim or utility j-channel, is a special type of j-channel that is used under windows and at the top of the siding surface (where the siding meets the soffit). This sill trim helps to "lock" the siding so to prevent buckling or waves that tend to occur at these specific locations. Many contractors do not use it. This is because you likely will not notice the difference right away, but, over time, the buckling and waviness will take place leaving your siding looking like it was installed by someone who was cutting corners- because it was!

2. How do you miter the j-channel around the windows? J-channel is considered a "siding accessory." It is one of several accessories that will accompany your new siding panels. J-channel is what is installed around doors, windows and other edges. It is what you see the siding "die" into. For j-channel around the windows, most prefer a 45 degree miter-cut at the corners. Others use squared edges, where one is essentially folded over the other. Neither one is wrong. But, if you ask this question and the contractor doesn't seem to know what your are talking about, you likely want to use a different contractor.

3. How tightly do you nail the siding? Many people (including siding contractors, sadly) do not know that vinyl siding is NOT supposed to be nailed tightly to the sheathing. There is supposed to be roughly 1/32 of an inch gap between the nail head and the siding. Siding is essentially "hung" on the house. This is to allow the siding to move back and forth within the nailing hem so to prevent buckling from the natural expanding and contracting of the housing structure. A qualified installer should know this. If he says he nails it tight or gives an unclear answer, go elsewhere.

4. How many people are on your siding crew? This is a questions that most consumers likely never think to ask. Perhaps it is assumed that the number of people working on the siding project at one time is insignificant. But you don't want your siding job to take forever. I often hear people say, "I don't care how long it takes, as long as it is done correctly." Sure, you want the job done right. But, trust me when I tell you that a 2-man crew is NOT what you want. A legitimate siding crew should consist of at least 4 people for most house sizes. Getting siding installed is a loud and messy process. You don't want people banging on your house any longer than necessary. A good crew works like a well-oiled machine. There should be at least 3 siding mechanics and at least 1 laborer on a crew. Slower does not mean better- it means slower. A larger crew will be able to install everything much more efficiently while cleaning as they go.

5. Do I need to take my pictures down when you install my siding? As you might imagine, tearing off old siding and installing new siding on your house causes a great deal of house vibration, especially to the exterior walls. Because of this, any pictures or mirrors or other loosely hanging objects that you may have on your exterior walls (walls where siding is on the other side of it), can and will fall from the wall. So, the correct answer is that you need to take down anything hanging from your exterior walls. If your contractor says anything else (unless he plans to screw your siding on, which is acceptable but highly unlikely), he likely has installed very few siding jobs, if any at all.

Remember, there are plenty of siding contractors out there. All claim to be the best. Few are. By asking these siding-specific questions along with the other "standard" questions you should ask any contractor, you can weed out the hacks and hire a true qualified professional.

Schedule your free siding estimate now. Call JP at (877) 846-9566 or schedule online.