I'm installing vinyl siding. I know that the siding boards themselves
need to be loosely nailed to allow for expansion. But what about the
starter, j-channela and f-channel and soffits? Should those also be
losely nailed, or tight? Also, does it matter whether it is nailed
into just the sheathing or must it be into the 2x framing?
Yes, any long strips need to be allowed to expand and contract with the
heat/cool cycle each day. A good rule to follow is: if it has slots in
it for nails, then nail it "snug" but not tight - and place the nails
in the center of the slots. Sheathing is fine as long as it is
substantial enough to hold a nail (ie. plywood, OSB, etc.) Some older
constructions have used homasote or other "soft" sheathing and that
will not hold a nail well, so be aware of that and nail to the wall
studs if necessary.
In general, everything needs to be hung loose. All pieces should slide back and
forth when fully nailed. If the pieces of soffit are only the typical 12" or
so, slide them into the F channel at the house and nail them tight on the
bottom of the facia. There is a special nail driver to get the nails in the
grooves, you use aluminum trim nails, not roofing nails. If the soffit
is long enough to need center supports, those get nailed loose like everything
Vertical pieces like corners need to be hung from the top nail at the top of
its slot, then the other nails placed in the center of the slots, again
I find it easier to control nailing depth into the studs if you can, because
the sheathing is 'bouncy' away from the studs, but it isn't required. Here is a
link to the Vinyl Siding Organization, they have a nice PDF manual online:
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