Mike Turner recouped what he paid to get certified as a vinyl siding installer not long after taking the Vinyl Siding Institute’s eight-hour course.

A customer called to say that the siding was wrong. He wanted it all torn off and re-hung. “There were a lot of things that didn’t look right to him because it’s vinyl siding,” Turner says. “I took out my card and said: I am certified to inspect things like this.” Turner, of the Home Service Store, in Atlanta, explained to the homeowner why, for instance, the corner posts hung slightly lower than the siding panels, and the owner said, “OK then, that’s fine.”

Installation Standards

With many manufacturers, each with its own system, and thousands of installers, there’s the possibility for much to go wrong. Gary O’Neill, a VSI-certification instructor, says that when it does, nine times out of 10 the fault lies in the installation. Issues include expansion and contraction, proper trim application and flashing around windows, anchoring the product properly per code, and correct estimating.

Nathan France, president of Kiser Construction, in Elk River, Minn., realized how important standardized procedures are when, after siding a large townhouse complex and “following codes and best practices,” the company received costly callbacks. “Some of this stuff feels like it should’ve been easily preventable,” France says. To prevent it, he got certified. Kiser crews now keep the 40-page VSI manual, in Spanish, in every truck.

Helps Sell Jobs

For the nation’s more than 3,000 certified installers, satisfying the program requirements separates “the fly-by-nights from the guys who care about what they’re doing,” O’Neill says. Ron Thomas, owner of R.A. Thomas Carpentry, in Lake Charles, La., got himself certified when research revealed that no one else in his market was. “Sometimes education is the key to securing a contract,” notes Thomas, who includes his credentials in every pitch and finds that “certification is a confidence factor for prospects.”

O’Neill says that certification makes sense to homeowners, who are used to plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and other certified trades. Turner says he suspects there aren’t more certified siding installers because owners who subcontract crews don’t demand it. Now, he says, is when they should. “In slow times it’s easier to upgrade our installation crew and look more at quality.”