In most cases, you can replace a vines block by placing any block while pointing to either the vines themselves or the surface of an adjacent block (below, above, or on any side). The exception is that when placing an "attaching block" (a block that attaches itself to an adjacent block), this only works the same way if you are not pointing at the vines themselves. If you attempt to place an attaching block while pointing at the vines, the behavior varies depending on what kind of attaching block you're placing. This deviation from the expected behavior causes confusion and frustration.
The following paragraphs list how the various kinds of attaching blocks behave when placed while pointing at the vines. The expected behavior in each case would be that the block would attach itself to the wall the vines were on.
Lever, Button, Item Frame, Bell:
If there is a solid block below the vines, the attaching block attaches to it. Otherwise, the vines remain and the block is not placed.
End Rod, Sign, Grindstone:
If there is a solid block below the vines, the attaching block attaches to it. Otherwise, the attaching block is placed as if there were a block there, which leaves it floating. (In the case of a sign, it will always have the standing_sign shape.)
Torch, Redstone Torch:
The attaching block searches for a block to attach to, in the order Below, South, West, North, East. (At least one of these must exist, the one the vines were attached to.)
The attaching block searches for a block to attach to, in the order Below, Above. If neither is found, the vines remain and no lantern is placed.
Banner, Tripwire Hook:
These cannot be placed while pointing at vines, but can be placed on an adjacent block in which case the vines are broken. Note that the banner is 2 blocks high. When placed, it will only break the vines in the upper half; the lower half can coexist with vines on another wall if they were already present.
Coral Fan, Dead Coral Fan:
These cannot be placed in a vines block, not even by pointing at an adjacent block.