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.
The average cost to install metal siding can range from $8.50 to $15.50 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, difficulty of work, and your home’s location.
Zinc House by Jose Garia
The cost of zinc siding can range from $15.00 to $25.00 per sq. ft. installed. Copper siding can cost as much as $20.00 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 $17,000 and $31,000 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 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 (29ga is one of the least expensive gauges of steel and may not be ideal for residential applications) are the standard gauges, while more expensive options such as 24 and 22 gauge steel panels and profiles are also available.
For instance, foam-backed, simulated log siding from TrueLog Siding is available in 28 gauge galvanized steel and 26 gauge galvanized steel, costing from $4.75 to $5.75 per sq. ft. of material, respectively, not including trim.
Aluminum relies on measurements to the thousandth of an inch, such as the standard range of .019 to .024. 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
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.
Common Metal Cladding Profiles
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.
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-backed metal wall panels are available to raise R-value to a point that rivals the top insulators 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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