Aluminum siding is an affordable way to spruce up the exterior of any home. It’s a versatile material that’s durable and easy to work with. But, if you’ve never worked with aluminum siding, it can seem very intimidating at first.
If you’re looking for tips on how to cut aluminum siding, you’ve come to the right place. By the time you’ve finished this article, you should be feeling confident enough to tackle any aluminum siding projects you may have.
What You’ll Need
Fortunately, you’ll need just a few tools to cut aluminum siding. Chances are these are tools you already have in your arsenal. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chop saw, miter saw, or radial arm saw outfitted with a panel blade
- Tin Snips
- Tape Measurer
- Shop pencil
- Safety goggles
Step I: Preparing for the Job
The first step of the process is going to be prep-work. You’ll be able to save time and energy by outfitting your workspace with everything you’re going to need before getting started.
Have your siding material ready, set up your saw, and outfit yourself with gloves and safety goggles to ensure your safety as you cut the siding.
Step II: Measuring
The key to a beautiful finished product is all in your measurements. Taking careful measurements will ensure that the siding looks uniform and professional when it’s installed. Slight variations in your measurements from piece to piece will result in a poorly finished job that may incur additional costs down the line as the siding wears over time.
Make all your measurements with a tape measure and mark them clearly with a shop pencil.
Step III: Making Long Cuts
You’ll be using your saw to complete the majority of the cuts for the entire job. Any long horizontal cuts you’re doing through an entire piece of siding will be handled by the saw.
As for the saw itself, there’s plenty of options for this job. A chop saw, miter saw or radial arm saw are all preferred options.
Once you’ve measured and marked your cut, bring the piece of siding to your workspace. If you’re lucky and you have a nice garage to work from for this project, more power to you.
But, I’ve seen guys do beautiful siding work from the front lawn of the house, using the grass as their workbench. You can certainly work with what you have in this situation.
Make your cut slowly and deliberately and always make sure you’re wearing safety goggles when making cuts.
Many people swear by using their saw blade backward in the saw. In theory, this leads to a cleaner and smoother cut without any rips or tears in the material. However, this isn’t a recommended practice.
Running your blade backward discounts a lot of the engineering work that goes into making a safe, effective blade. While it may seem to work for some people, it’s more dangerous, and you run the risk of damaging the blade or having teeth fly off while you’re mid-cut.
Step IV: Making Precision Cuts
There will come a time in any aluminum siding project where you’ll need to make a cut that isn’t as simple as a straight vertical cut you can make with your saw.
For these kinds of cuts, tin snips are very handy. Hopefully, you have a set of tin snips that will allow you to make cuts in any direction. There are three types of tin snips altogether.
Those with a yellow handle are designed to cut straight, and they also do a great job with wide, sweeping curves. Snips with a green handle are best for cutting straight or to the right, and snips with a red handle are best for cutting straight or to the left.
Ideally, you have a set of all three handy. If you don’t, the yellow handled tin snips should be able to tackle the job.
If you’re unable to achieve the type of precision you need with the tin snips you have, it may be best to go pick up a new set. How well your snips cut in any direction will have a major effect on the quality of your finished project.
Tin snips are also very useful if you need to trim up a section you cut with your saw. Rather than going through the motions of using the saw to trim a small amount of siding from the edge, you can use the tin snips to do it in half the time.
When it comes to using the tin snips, make sure you’ve traced exactly where your cut needs to be with a shop pencil and make your cut slowly and deliberately, following your line as closely as possible.
Wrapping it Up
When it comes to how to cut aluminum siding, the answer is probably easier than you think. It may seem intimidating at first, but cutting aluminum siding is relatively simple. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.