HOW TO REMOVE VINYL SIDING: Detailed Step-by-Step Guide (With Pictures)


The lifespan of vinyl siding is 20 years, but painting it can extend that time. When it’s time for a makeover, here are some pointers on how to remove vinyl siding without breaking it with a tool. Vinyl is one of the least expensive siding options, and it looks excellent when it’s new. But nothing lasts forever.

Repaint it with “vinyl-safe” paint to prolong the life of the vinyl siding. However, you will eventually decide that it is time for new siding. If you reside in an older home, you might be in for a pleasant surprise when you remove the vinyl. It’s common to find old, perfectly fixable siding under the vinyl.

Since high winds, swinging ladders, or flying baseballs can cause vinyl to crack and break, you may only need to take out the damaged planks. It does not require you to be a skilled builder. Here are some pointers to assist you in preparing to remove vinyl siding without breaking it with a tool and doing it quickly.

What Is a Vinyl Siding Removal Tool?

A vinyl siding removal tool, also known as a zip tool, is a must-have tool that consists of a metal bar with a little hook at one end and a bend at just the right angle. A zip tool is used to separate the hidden joints that hold vinyl siding together.

Vinyl Siding Installation

Installing a damaged panel of vinyl siding is the opposite of removing the damaged panel. The new piece is first nailed up by driving nails through the slots in the nail hem, and then the buttlocks are connected using the zip tool.
A snap lock punch for punching lugs in siding cut edges and a nail hole slot punch for elongating a nail hem slot to allow for nail movement are two more useful tools for installing vinyl siding. You’ll also need special scissors to cut through siding, such as cutting snips or siding shears, as well as a utility knife or scoring tool.

It might be difficult to find matching material when replacing vinyl siding because siding manufacturers keep changing their offerings and discontinuing older styles and colors. It’s ideal to keep some spare siding from the original installation. If you can’t find an exact match, take the broken piece to a siding supplier and ask for the closest match.

How to Remove Vinyl Siding Without Tool

Vinyl siding is long-lasting and durable, but it can crack or be damaged. A vinyl siding removal tool is the most convenient way to remove or repair damaged vinyl siding. You can get under the top and bottom edges of the vinyl siding pieces where they interlock by using a vinyl siding removal tool (a design that allows them to resist wind and moisture). Most importantly, you will not damage the vinyl siding by using this tool.

What You’ll Require

Instruments / Tools

  • Zip tool
  • Flat pry bar
  • Woodblocks
  • Hammer


  • Siding replacement (as needed)
  • Roofing nails 1 1/4 inch (as needed)

Steps for Using a Vinyl Siding Removal Tool

#1. Release the bottom joint

 Starting at the bottom edge of the damaged siding panel, wiggle the curved tip of the zip tool blade under a loose spot at one end of the panel, hooking the tool onto the back lip of the buttlock. At the end of the panel, look for a slightly bigger hole made for the zip tool to slip into. Alternatively, search for another loose point along the length of the panel joint.
Apply downward pressure to the zip tool to separate the buttlock joint. Then, move the tool along the length of the siding panel to loosen the remaining joint.

#2. Release the top joint

Repeat the same process used on the bottom joint to unlock the top joint holding the damaged panel to the panel above. Carefully lift the bottom edge of the panel above to reveal the nailing hem and nails on the damaged panel.

#3. Remove the nails

Remove the vinyl siding panel by prying out all of the nails in the nailing hem with a flat pry bar and hammer.

#4. Place wood blocks

Place wood blocks behind the loose panel above the area of the removed panel to keep the upper panel away from the wall before installing a new vinyl panel.

#5. Place the new panel

Hook the bottom edge of the replacement panel over the panel below it and place it on the wall. Push up on the new panel to secure its lower buttlock to the panel below.

#6. Nail the new panel

Fasten the new panel in place by driving 1 1/4-inch roofing nails through the nailing hem slots every 16 inches or so. If it is difficult to reach the nails with a hammer, place a pry bar over the head of the nail and strike it with a hammer to drive the nail. Leave the nail heads about 1/32 inch above the surface of the siding; this allows the siding to move with expansion and contraction. Also, to allow for side-to-side mobility, place the nails in the centers of the nailing hem slots.

#7. Secure the panels

Use the zip tool to attach the buttlock of the upper panel to the top edge of the new panel. Grab the buttlock’s lip with the tool and pull it over the new panel’s locking edge. Simultaneously, press from the outside of the upper panel toward the wall with your other hand to snap the buttlock into place. Interlock the entire top edge of the new panel from one end to the other.

How to Remove Vinyl Siding Without Breaking it

Is your home taking on a scruffy appearance? Vinyl siding that has irreversible damage requires a facelift, which can be costly. Even while vinyl siding removal can be time-consuming, there is good news: it is easier than you think!

Learn How to Remove Vinyl Siding Without Breaking It In 6 Easy Steps.

At first glance, home siding may appear to be a daunting task. However, you’ll discover in this guide how simple it is to remove vinyl siding without breaking it with a tool, whether the entire thing needs to be removed or just a damaged section.

With the correct tool, safety equipment, and patience, any homeowner can remove the vinyl siding. It’s usually regarded as beginner’s work for the following reasons:

  • Each panel can be unhooked with a single tool.
  • Many homeowners have extension ladders already.
  • The work for one panel is the same as it is for the entire house.

Step 1: Get the House Ready

Considering the weather, you should get the tools and supplies you need to remove vinyl before you start your project. It will be more convenient to have them on hand when the weather cooperates rather than rushing to the store.

Step 2: Remove the Vinyl Panel

Vinyl siding is surprisingly simple to remove, even without the use of a tool. Whether you’re removing it mid-wall or the entire side, start at the top and work your way down.

  • Gather your gear and extend your ladder or scaffolding to the furthest side (right or left — it doesn’t matter).
  • Raise the corner enough to place the siding removal tool under the vinyl.
  • Pry the panel toward you with the siding removal tool until the bottom lip of the panel comes free. If you can fit your fingers in the gap, you’ve done it correctly.
  • Remove the siding removal tool. You may now use your fingers to glide across the panel, freeing the lip all the way across. Take caution not to overstretch yourself. As you go, stop to safely re-adjust your ladder.
Unlocking Vinyl Panel Mid-Wall

Although the process is similar to the one described above, there are some major differences if you want to remove vinyl paneling in the middle of a wall.

  • Remove the vinyl panel above the area to be replaced. (If you don’t, you won’t be able to remove the nails).
  • Raise the panel above the damaged one so that your siding removal tool can slip underneath and lock it in place. Remember that starting on one side will be more difficult.
  • Use the siding removal tool to pry back the vinyl so you can get your fingertips underneath. Then, lift it toward you to free it. Continue working your way along the panel until the bottom lip is free. You can also use pincer pliers instead of your fingers.

Step 3: Raise the Panel.

Now that you’ve freed the first panel along the bottom lip, look for the J-channel, which is where the perimeter edges meet the wall.

  • Gently loosen the vinyl corner’s bottom so that it overlaps the vertical edge of your house. Excessive force may cause damage to the perimeter.
  • Slide it out with both corners out and the bottom of the panel flapping freely on top of the panel below it.
  • Take one side of the vinyl and slide it out.
  • Bend it, then set it aside for the time being.

Step 4: Remove the Nails

If there is a lot of filth and crud around the nails or along the top of the freshly exposed panel, don’t be alarmed. This is to be expected, particularly when removing old or damaged vinyl siding.

  • Get your claw hammer and bucket ready.
  • Remove any visible nails and place them in the bucket.
  • Use your pry bar to remove any tough nails.

Step 5: Remove the Vinyl Panel

The finest part, because it’s the simplest and most rewarding:

  • Unsnap the vinyl panel’s bottom so it’s loose.
  • Simply pop it out and toss it away.
  • Repeat the previous process on the next panel until all of the desired vinyl paneling has been removed.
Removing Vinyl Around Doors & Windows

Removing vinyl around any framework is no different than the rest of the house. When the vinyl is removed, you’ll see a new material behind it. Since vinyl siding is not leak-proof, this extra material prevents moisture from entering your home. Heavy metal “flashing” will almost certainly be installed around your doors and windows.

Nails are commonly used to secure them. Remove them with a claw hammer or pry bar. Next, look underneath the wood door and window trim for rot or other damage.

Step 6: Discard Vinyl Siding

If your vinyl siding is in good shape, you can clean it with soap and water and reuse it, or you can donate it. However, if it is damaged or has reached the end of its life cycle, it may not be recycled. In this case, renting a dumpster is a great way to quickly and easily get rid of the panels. Most curbside pickups have a limit on the quantity of waste they will pick up, and having a bin nearby will save you several trips to the landfill.

Common Errors to Avoid

  • Using a pry bar rather than a siding removal tool.
  • Taking down panels in cold weather, when they are most brittle
  • Start at the bottom panel rather than the top. 
  • Start at the bottom panel rather than the top. 
  • Stretching instead of safely repositioning the ladder
  • Assuming that curbside pickup will accept old vinyl siding.

Can I remove the vinyl siding myself?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. You can remove it with minimal effort and in a way that allows you to reuse the pieces. Vinyl siding is installed from bottom to top, so when removing it, begin at the top and work your way down.

Is there a tool for removing vinyl siding?

Yes. A vinyl siding removal tool (VSRT) is used to remove two interlocking sections of vinyl siding to gain access to the nailing flange for siding removal or repairs. Because the process is comparable to unzipping a zipper, a VSRT is also known as a zip tool.

How do you remove vinyl siding without a special tool?

Using Alcohol for Rubbing

If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, rubbing alcohol is a safe alternative that can remove vinyl. Alcohol is also less expensive than vinyl remover.

How do you remove the siding without damaging it?

Warm the vinyl with a hairdryer

Turn your hairdryer to low heat and carefully run it over the wall decal. The heat from the hairdryer degrades the vinyl’s adhesion. This reduces the likelihood of removing any paint when removing your decal.

How do you remove one piece of vinyl siding?

After gathering all of the necessary tools, follow the steps in this section to learn how to replace one piece of vinyl siding.

  • Run the zip tool down the bottom edge of the damaged piece of vinyl siding to release it.
  • Using the same method as in step one, unzip the siding over the damaged piece and keep it in place.
  • Gently move the flat pry bar behind the damaged siding to pry the nails out.
  • Push the replacement piece of siding into place, pushing up until the lower lip seals with the piece below.
  • Hammer 1-1/4″ roofing nails into the new piece of siding near the previous nail holes (every 16″ or so) to hold it in place.
  • Using the zip tool, secure the siding above the new piece.

How do you remove vinyl siding with a screwdriver?

To unlock a section of vinyl siding with just a screwdriver, find the end joint, insert the screwdriver into the bottom locking edge, and pry down and out on the edge until you can grab and pull the bottom locking edge outward and unlock the corner. Finally, slide the screwdriver along the entire bottom edge of the siding to unlock the bottom flange.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove old glued vinyl?

Roll the vinyl down the length of the strip as you go. After cutting, gently lift the vinyl strip until you encounter resistance from the glue near the perimeter. To loosen the vinyl, use a multi-tool scraper. If it doesn’t come off, use the prybar and hammer to chip away at the hardened adhesive.

What can dissolve vinyl?

A Dupray steam cleaner’s intense temperature and low moisture are ideal for removing all types of stickers and decals. Steam softens vinyl and dissolves adhesives, allowing it to be easily peeled away with little damage or residue.

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