My house is a 50's cape which originally had clapboard siding. The previous owner put a layer of rigid foam over the clapboard, then vinyl siding. As far as I can tell, from looking at the wall stack-up from the bottom I see:

1) 3/4 tongue and groove sheathing
2) An unidentified, ~3/4 wood material
3) Clapboard
4) Rigid foam
5) Tripple 3" Vinyl

Besides the foam I couldn't really tell you where, if anywhere, there is some sort of moister barrier.

Now I'd like to install a new exterior light. Which means that I need a box, and some sort of mounting block. I know that normally I would begin be installing the box recessed into the sheathing, then installing a two piece vinyl mounting block. Something like this image from hammerzone.com (minus the electrical box):

However it seems like this method isn't going to work in my case. Additionally it is my understanding that you cannot assume there is no moister behind your vinyl, that's why there is normally a moisture barrier. So in that case I really don't understand how this method would prevent moisture, which may have already gotten behind the vinyl, from getting into the electrical box. I realize that I could cut the box in, then use a mounting block designed for retrofitting, like this one:

But in that case I am really not sure how moisture would be prevented from entering the electrical box. So my question is: how do I do this right?

  • I checked more closely, there appears to be a layer of, what I assume is, tar paper between the sheath and shingles. Its old, and crumbly.
    – Jay
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


You said:

So in that case I really don't understand how this method would prevent moisture, which may have already gotten behind the vinyl, from getting into the electrical box.

You are correct in your assessment, the siding is not waterproof or even moisture proof. Water will get behind the siding, hence the reason for underlayment or house wrap. Electrical boxes cut into siding will not be waterproof or moisture proof either.

The code just requires you to use a weather resistant / tamper resistant receptacle and an in use cover if it will be exposed to the weather. If it is under a porch or patio you can use a old style spring cover like a Bell box cover.

The terminals and connections in this box will probably corrode and need replacing before anything inside the house but should last for 10 years or so depending on your location and the weather.

If you want it as water/moisture proof as possible then install an all plastic solid device box with PVC nipple attached with a PVC connector to a junction box inside of the house. Then wire it with THHN/THWN wire instead of NM cable. Then use an in-use cover with a gasket and the aforementioned weather resistant / tamper resistant receptacle. That should keep the inside of the box pretty dry.

Good Luck!

Happy Thursday!


As an experiment I decided to fix an incorrectly installed dryer vent on the side of the house before doing the electrical box. I am fairly confident that this is a reasonably good way to install a vinyl mounting block and that replacing the dryer vent block with an electrical box style block will work fine.

First, I removed the old siding and cut out the damaged tar paper: enter image description here

Then, I slid new tyvek behind the old tarpaper about 8" and taped the seems: enter image description here

I then installed the mounting block with the top end cut under the tyvek as shown in this video. I forgot to take my own picture: https://youtu.be/XWUDjpIWZVA?t=1m9s enter image description here

End result: enter image description here

  • That looks good. The key is layering, so that water / moisture / condensate are directed down and out of the siding. Looks like you got the idea.
    – ArchonOSX
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:38

Silicone caulk can take care of the worries you have. Do not skimp on the amount of caulk you use before and after the installation of fixture. Pay particular attention to top and sides.

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