Metal Siding Options, Costs and Pros & Cons 2020

Metal as a category for residential siding has four primary choices: steel, aluminum, copper and zinc. The first two make up the majority of what you’re likely to find, but the last two have features and benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked just because they are more expensive.

via Bridger Steel

Thanks to the remarkable versatility of metal, its alternatives are wood, vinyl, and fiber cement. Metal siding doesn’t attempt to mimic stucco, stone or brick siding, as these generally constitute unique shapes. Metal siding is often installed as panels that are corrugated or intended to mimic lap siding or vertical boards.

Cost Information – Part 1

Metal siding has a price range of $5.00 to $35.00 per sq. ft. installed.

Note: the above cost range covers 4 different material options:

  • Steel is usually under $10.00 per sq. ft. installed, unless going with architectural grade material or design options.
  • Aluminum is usually under $12.00 per sq. ft. installed, unless going with architectural grade material or design options.
  • Zinc comes in at around $10.00 to $20.00 per sq. ft.
  • Copper is the most expensive option that goes up to $20.00 to $35.00 per sq. ft. installed.

For installation on a home, it is strongly recommended you go with a professional and experienced contractor. For smaller projects, such as a shed, the DIY approach is feasible.

On larger projects, where pieces are cut to cover either larger areas or unique layouts, a professional will not only work faster but be more careful. Metal is malleable which if not careful can lead to waste of purchased materials. Plus, metal installation can be somewhat dangerous with its sharp edges.

To get a better picture of the costs, let’s break down what a project may entail.

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Costing Info – Part 2

Metal for residential homes is a craftsman’s dream. Metal siding is often blending colors, shape and other materials to produce a sleek, modern design or to mimic a traditional style with the advantages that come with metal.

In the following examples, we’ll present 4 different projects with their additional material and their on the job considerations. Please note that these are ballpark estimates based on national averages.

Factory-Painted Galvanized Ribbed Panel Steel Siding: 2,000 sq. ft. x $7.50 = $15,000 (includes installation)
Additional Building Materials: (i.e. J-Channels, underlayment, galvanized nails) = $875
Removal of previous siding: $1,600
Garbage Rental / Disposal Charge: $900
Building permit: $250

Total Project 1 Cost = $18,625

Factory-Painted Kynar 500 Aluminum Lap Siding: 2000 sq.ft. x $9.50 = $19,000 (includes labor)
Additional Building Materials: (i.e. J-Channels, flashing, vapor barrier, nails) = $825
Building permit: $250

Total Project 2 Cost = $20,075

Pre-Patinated Zinc Panel Siding: 2000 sq.ft. x $17.00 = $34,000 (includes labor)
Additional Building Materials 1: (i.e. J-Channels, flashing, vapor barrier, nails) = $825
Additional Building Materials 2: (updating window/door trim, soffits and eaves) = $6,500
Building permit: $250

Total Project 3 Cost = $41,575

Premium-Grade Copper Panel Siding: 2,000 sq.ft. x $33.00 = $64,000
Labor Charge: $5,500
Additional Building Materials 1: (i.e. J-Channels, flashing, vapor barrier, nails) = $825
Building permit: $250

Total Project 4 Cost = $70,575

Quite the variation in the above examples, but let’s delve even deeper.

Factors Impacting Overall Costs

For metal siding, the type of metal selected would probably be the foremost impact on cost. Copper and Steel are so far apart in cost, it helps to understand the benefits each has.

Galvanized steel is widely available — the reason why it is so inexpensive compared to Zinc and Copper. Its zinc coating (hence the galvanization) means the Steel will not corrode, or rust in this case, as soon as uncoated steel would.

With a Kynar 500 coat of factory finished paint on top, G-90 steel siding should be good to go for say 30 years, before additional painting is necessary.

Zinc and Copper need no painting nor coating to protect them from aging or weathering. They have it naturally and are non-corrosive metals. Both will change color due to their patination processes, but that is truly a natural aspect of their overall aesthetic value, not to mention their impressive longevity.

Zinc specially benefits from its self-healing property which means scratches to its surface will actually correct over time. All metal siding is good to go for at least 50 years, but steel siding may need re-coating after 30 years, or no longer than 50 years. Copper and zinc can go for more than a century before replacement is even a consideration.

Labor is a significant factor impacting cost. Again, because steel and aluminum are widely available, the charges to install them are usually competitive in all regions.

With zinc and copper, finding truly qualified and experienced installers may not be as easy and this, of course, will drive up the installation cost.

Whether to remove previous siding is another consideration. It is likely in really most siding jobs, but not all. There tends to be standard charges that vary only slightly by region and whatever local charges there may be for garbage rental and disposal.

The additional materials that are beyond construction features needed to complete the job, such as fasteners, are the final consideration.

A building permit is one of those things that is necessary in most home improvement jobs that are impacting the home in a significant way. When adding or replacing window and door trims, or soffits and eaves, these charges will very much add up.

From a design/architect perspective, the completed job can look awkward or even unfinished if these are not updated. They can add a good chunk of change to the bottom line, but unless sticking to a traditional style option like lap siding, they are most definitely worth considering.

The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty

Here we list the pros, cons and chief reason for why to consider ANY metal siding.

The Good: Metal siding can offer pretty good insulation properties. The R-Value for the options we presented in are above examples is less than wood, but greater than brick.

Metal siding can also be foam-backed with the specific intent to offer better insulation, which then surpasses wood and is second only to stone siding. Metal also benefits from being waterproof, insect-proof and resistant to fire. And it’s return on investment is above average coming in at 86% of recouping the costs you spend.

The Bad: Metal is prone to denting, though this depends on gauge, or thickness, of the material. Scratches are common and overtime can be noticeable, though Zinc has a natural way to overcome this.

For Steel and Aluminum, there is a bit of a maintenance factor involved, but compared to say wood it is not all that much.

If going with Zinc or Copper, the expense may be considered a con, but those certainly make up for that in terms of longevity.

The Oh So Pretty: Craftsmanship is a solid reason to strongly consider metal siding, but that isn’t our top reason.

Metal is fully recyclable and is another great benefit of the material. With metal there is no disposal charge associated with its removal as there are many metal manufacturers that partially rely on recycling metal to increase their production. Other siding materials take up national landfills by the metric ton, but not metal.

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