How to Install Metal Wall Panels – Metal Cladding for Homes

Looking around at the different houses on the street and not finding a unique, modern look that satisfies your desire for articulated lines yet is minimalist enough to not be in everyone’s eyes? Perhaps you are looking for Aluminum or Steel Standing Seam Siding. In this article, we will show how such a system is installed, as well as explain its properties and a bit of history.

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As you may know, aluminum siding has been very popular about 60 years ago; however, with changing tides in the global commodity market and innovative use of cheaper PVC (vinyl) siding, the use of aluminum and steel as a siding material has declined. Nevertheless, it has reemerged as an element of modern and contemporary design.

Modern metal wall panels such as corrugated metal, standing seam, and metal shingle cladding, provide a unique alternative to the standard options — when desiring something more than the same old vinyl siding or cedar shingles look for the exterior walls of your house. Read to learn more about how to go about installing metal wall panels and what to expect.

Standing Seam Siding — Project Details:

Length between the seams – should be adjusted so that most penetrations would fall between the seams.
Height of the seam – purely aesthetic but should be at least 1” tall.
Wall anchoring – two options nail strip or clips (longer use clips short use nail strip).
Lock type – snap lock or lock in from side, contractor preference.

Paint Finish – KYNAR 500® PVDF or HYLAR 5000® PVDF high quality raisin paint.

Gage – Thickness standard for aluminum siding and roofing is 0.032 to 0.040.

Project: Siding on the back portion of a town house with adjacent units on both sides.

Location: Boston, MA

Substrate: wood siding on top of boards.

Color: Silversmith and mate black window trim.

Type of panel: Nail-strip snap-lock.

Initial Inspection and material order preparation

First thing one should do when installing metal siding is to see if the deck, in our case wood planks, would hold the screws. Make sure that there is no rot or cracked boards (we were lucky as some of the siding was already removed).

Second measure every distance from sides to protruding objects such as windows, pipes, and outlets – try to record how big a penetration would be – to properly select the width of the panels. This step is crucial to having a clean look, flashing around objects is hard enough flashing with a seam in the middle is twice as hard.

Once all the above is done, I used Sketchup by Google, draw a diagram, and come up with a width that will make the least number of cuts necessary to go around windows and penetrations. After the diagram is adjusted for accuracy, the order is sent to the manufacturer.

removing old siding

Removing old siding, fixing deck, and installing underlayment

The main problem here is not to damage the adjacent buildings and the newly installed door. As this was wood siding and the work area was very small, we used crow bars which both less destructive and tests the strength of the boards underneath. As expected, some of the boards were rotten and on top of that the blown in insulation fell out once we removed the rotten boards.

After a quick run to Home Depot, we got some 3/4” plywood and pink insulation, and fixed the troubled areas. When installing standing seam for either roofing or siding applications, the deck should be as straight as possible and should not have any nails sticking out — if they are, sooner or later the aluminum will take the form of anything that’s underneath it.

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As with traditional siding choice the wood deck should be covered in underlayment/vapor barrier. Our choice is the synthetic breathable underlayment by GAF called Deck Armor. — It allows moisture to escape but doesn’t allow any water from the outside to penetrate.

Thus, it can help remove (vent out) any excess moisture coming from inside the house, while preserving the wood, insulation, and walls for many years to come. Underlay also acts as a second water barrier. — This treatment makes the side walls watertight.

Underlayment should be installed starting from the bottom, all the way to the top. It can be left exposed for months if the project were to be delayed or interrupted for whatever reason.

Flashing around windows and sides


Once all you see is underlayment its time to install trim and wrap windows in aluminum. There are three basic elements of flashing trim in this project.

  • J-Channel – a piece of metal that looks like the letter “J” in profile. This is installed on all the sides and where the top of the panel will sit.
  • Sill trim – a piece of metal that looks like the letter “L” with a lip facing down at an angle from the side that will be sitting on top and will hold the bottom of the panels.
  • Window Trim – this is made up of 4 parts and is held by small trim nails. (see picture for details)

When starting try to square the side to make sure that the panels will be straight. Start by installing sill trim on the bottom where the panels will start, then install J-channel on sides and trim windows. After that install J-channel on the sides and bottom of windows and sill trim on top.

Installing standing seam panels

The first panel is the most important one it must be straight and square, screw in screws every 8 inches. When encountering penetrations measure the location and cut out an appropriate hole on the panel if it’s a window, leave 1/8” between the panel and trim.

Where the panel meets J-channel, the metal will be loose as the lock is cut. Insert a piece of aluminum to hold it steady or bend a lip in the panel where the lock was cut (about ¾ of width inside the J-channel). To avoid dents when locking the seams together use a rubber mallet or hands. To fill the gaps with the adjacent siding use commercial grade caulking.



standing-seam-panels on a house wall

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And there you have it, installed Standing Seam panels, in my opinion it looks stunning compared to the vinyl or wood siding. Now all you have to do is power wash it every few years and thanks to the advanced paint coating and the properties of aluminum, this will stand unchanged for the next 30-50 years.

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1 thought on “How to Install Metal Wall Panels – Metal Cladding for Homes”

  1. Love the level of detail in drawing up a diagram of windows, openings, heights, and widths. I can see how planning and making sure that everything fits just right is the key to having a solid finished product and avoiding the mess-ups.


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