Metal Siding Cost: Wall Panels, Metal Cladding Pros & Cons

Steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc are the four primary materials for metal siding. Whether corrugated, ribbed, bevel-style or vertical panels, metal continues to be highly versatile in its application for residential siding and wall cladding.

Cost Basics

The average cost to install metal siding can range from $9.50 to $16.50 per square foot. While that is a rather wide price range, your total cost per sq. ft. installed will depend on the choice of material, number of levels and overall difficulty of work, and your home’s location.

Note that in the ultra-expensive real estate markets like pockets of California including San Jose, SF Bay Area, hot areas in LA, NYC, Boston, Seattle, Miami, the cost for high-end metal siding can often exceed the above range, with costs as high as $20.00 per sq.ft. installed.

Zinc House by Jose Garia

The cost of zinc siding, a premium and ultra-durable and long-lasting metal, can range from $15.00 to $25.00 per sq. ft. installed. Copper siding can cost as much as $22.00 to $35.00 per sq. ft. installed on some high-end residential and commercial applications.

In terms of total project cost, for a typical 2,000 sq.ft. siding project, you can expect to pay between $19,000 and $33,000 for a contractor to install new metal (steel or aluminum) siding on a typical house.

If going with zinc or copper, you can expect the average price to jump to $41,000 for zinc, and up to $70,000 for copper siding installation.

Comparing and Contrasting Metal Siding Materials

Bridger Tru Snap Siding via Bridger Steel

Steel and Aluminum are the most popular and widely available options. Both are mostly priced on the thickness of the material and its coating and paint finish.

Steel thickness is measured gauges, with lower numbers translating to thicker pieces or sheets of metal. 26- and 29-gauge steel (29-ga is one of the least expensive gauges of steel and may not be ideal for residential applications) are the standard gauges.

A 26-gauge G-90 galvanized (Kynar 500 coated) steel is the often recommend gauge/grade of steel panels for residential siding and wall cladding applications, while more expensive and more durable options such as 24- and 22-gauge steel panels and profiles are also available.

Red Cedar TruLog Steel Siding in Elmora PA

For instance, foam-backed, simulated log siding from TrueLog Siding is available in 28-gauge galvanized steel and 26-gauge galvanized steel, costing from $5.00 to $7.00 per sq. ft. of material, respectively.

Aluminum relies on measurements to the thousandth of an inch, such as the standard range of 0.019, 0.024, 0.032, 0.040. Greater thickness means better wind resistance and fewer chances of denting, which is a general disadvantage for some metal siding profiles.

Kynar 500 / Hylar 5000 Paint Finishes

Using high quality, factory finished paints on the material can further help prevent the corrosion of the metal while also helping to greatly extend its service lifespan. Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 are the trade names which bake coatings, or paints, onto metal to provide the added layer(s) of protection.

Coated Steel vs. Aluminum

Generally, steel will retain paint better than aluminum. But this is true only if steel has been galvanized or primed with a base layer of protection such as Galvanized or Galvalume coating, which is pretty much the norm today.

Did you know? Galvanized (steel) layer is made of zinc, while Galvalume steel (better and slightly more expensive option than G-90 galvanized steel) is coated with a zinc and aluminum combo.

Zinc and Copper

The GREENville House by Tonic Design, an excellent example of the use of architectural zinc siding in an eco-friendly, energy-saving home, features VMZinc Quartz-zinc in a flat lock aspect.

via Design and Build with Metal

One reason zinc and copper are more expensive, is their unparalleled resistance to corrosion.

Both materials will acquire patina in a natural way which can be strikingly appealing. Think of the Statue of Liberty that is now green. Its surface is coated in copper, which was at one time, all gold in appearance.

New copper siding or cladding starts out in similar fashion but changes to the green which protects the material for a very long time, one hundred years or more.

Greenville House by Tonic Design

Zinc, which by the way is less expensive than copper, tops them all; It starts off black / dark gray and changes to a blue tone that will last for a century or more. In doing so, its protective layer will consistently eliminate minor scratches, and is therefore seen as self-healing. Due to the patination process of zinc and copper, you’ll have no need to paint them.

Metal Siding, Metal Wall Panels, and Metal Cladding Styles and Options

From the mid 1900’s to around 1980, aluminum siding was quite popular. It mimicked wood bevel siding, with its horizontal plank appearance. Vinyl though quickly displaced it as a market competitor and went onto become the #1 siding choice in America.

While cedar, fiber cement and stone have a wide range of stylistic considerations, metal is the epitome of versatility for residential siding.

Common Metal Cladding Profiles

Corrugated panels, standing seam, and horizontal planks are very common styles.

Foam-backed steel log siding by ABC Seamless

Metal Shingles and Wall Tiles are also increasing in popularity as they can mimic shingles, brick veneers and design patterns that perhaps only metal siding can achieve, such as diagonal shaped tiles. Plus, going with metal tiles means that if any major denting ever occurs, it can be replaced or repaired easier than larger horizontal or vertical panels.

A house in Cincinnati designed by Jose Garia features sheet metal panel, Dri-Design cassette aspect, in VMZ Quartz-zinc and Anthra-zinc.
via Design and Build with Metal

R-value is a factor to consider for any siding material. The less thick the metal is, the less insulation it will provide to your home.

Traditional aluminum siding was on the low end for R-value. Yet, insulated metal wall panels are available to raise the R-value to a point that rivals the top insulating materials in the residential siding market.

Pros of Metal Siding

  • highly versatile
  • very durable – material lasts 75+ years
  • ROI is excellent – with national average at 86%
  • wide price ranges and options allow metal siding to compete for budget friendly installation as well as premium quality
  • recyclable – eco-friendly
  • fire resistant, insect-proof, unable to rot
  • low maintenance – especially for zinc and copper

Cons of Metal Siding

A well-known potential disadvantage of old-school metal siding such as painted steel was how easily it could scratch and corrode, especially if there was no self-healing base-level of metal coating underneath the paint finish. While a single scratch wasn’t all that noticeable, over time, multiple scratches could add up.

Scratching of the metal can accelerate its corrosive properties. Steel will rust. Aluminum will become chalky.

The above concerns lead to preventative measures during manufacturing of the material, as well as better metal coating measures.

  • can scratch or dent rather easily, especially when less-thick panels or tiles are installed
  • corrosive issues with steel and aluminum materials
  • installation – labor charges are generally higher
  • due to lack of popularity for metal siding, finding experienced contractors can be challenging
  • metal siding is prone to making a ping sound during windy / stormy weather

And there you have it.

What are your thoughts? Share them below, and if this information has been of help, pass it on to your friends and followers, because they’ve probably got some siding upgrades and options to consider, too!

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