Pros and Cons of Metal Siding

If you thought metal siding was only for factories and barns, think again. This guide to metal siding clears up any confusion.

While metal siding is well over 100 years old, modern metal siding got its big break in 1939. Frank Hoess, a machinist who designed the interlocking flanges at the tops and bottoms of panels, patented the design after using it on homes in a small development in Chicago.

Since the late 1930s, the use of metal siding to protect homes from the elements has ebbed and flowed. War efforts reduced production in the 1940s, while the 1970s saw a renewed interest. Today, metal siding’s popularity is again on the rise, leading some homeowners to ask, “What are the pros and cons of metal siding?” This guide will help.

Metal Siding Pros

There are lots of benefits to choosing metal siding, which is why it’s one of the most popular exterior home building materials.

  • Easy to maintain: Metal siding is extremely low maintenance. Other siding materials can dry rot, attract bugs, absorb moisture and grow mold or mildew. Those materials require a constant eye to ensure they’re in good shape. Metal siding doesn’t. It won’t absorb water or allow mold or mildew to grow.

  • Repels bugs:┬áInsects don’t like metal siding. They can’t eat it, and they can’t bore through it to build nests. There’s less concern about termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees and other bugs. Just be aware that no siding material is entirely impervious to bugs.

  • Durability: Steel siding is incredibly durable. It can withstand severe weather, changes in temperature and wind-driven impacts. Higher-quality metal siding, known as 53-gauge, is even more durable than standard 44-gauge metal siding.

  • Fire-resistant: Metal is non-combustible. If you live in areas prone to wildfires, metal siding’s fire resistance offers a serious benefit.

  • Recyclable: While metal siding production isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly, the metal is recyclable.

  • Energy-efficiency: Metal siding reflects heat, so it resists the sun’s rays and lowers air conditioning energy consumption better than other materials. Conversely, homes with metal siding won’t absorb as much of the sun’s heat in winter, so good in-wall insulation is still important.

  • Good looks: Metal siding comes in various colors, styles and profiles, including those with embossed wood grain to mimic the look of wood siding. It also comes in horizontal panels, sheets with vertical ridges, and panels designed to rust for a weathered look. Most homeowners can find metal siding that appeals to their aesthetic.

Metal Siding Cons

Metal siding has a lot going for it, but it isn’t perfect. Here are some points shoppers should understand before choosing metal siding.

  • Expensive: While some metal siding, like aluminum, may be budget-friendly, higher-quality metal siding can exceed the price of many other siding materials. The following are some of the average materials-only costs for siding projects. Labor would be extra.

    • Metal siding = $7 and $16 per square foot.
    • Vinyl siding = $2.50 and $10.75 per square foot.
    • Brick veneer siding = $11 and $24 per square foot.
    • Fiber cement = $5 and $15 per square foot.
  • Installation woes: Installing metal siding can be a challenge. It’s generally much heavier than vinyl siding and more difficult to cut. However, it’s not impossible for experienced DIYers to install it. It’s just not as easy or forgiving as vinyl.

  • Dents: Hard impacts from tree branches, vehicles, sports equipment and even hammers during installation can dent a metal panel. This kind of damage is a pain to repair or replace.

Metal Siding Manufacturers

Lots of companies produce metal siding. The following are some of the most notable names in the business. Many also sell metal roofing and decking.

McElroy Metal

McElroy Metal is a third-generation family business founded in 1963. It produces metal siding panels and roofing for residential and commercial applications, including concealed and exposed fasteners, standing seam and insulated panels.

Flexospan

Started in 1969, Flexospan specializes in hard-to-find heavy gauge metal and distinctive finishes. It offers more than 20 panel profiles and can custom-cut panels to specific lengths or widths. Because framing spacing isn’t always standard in older homes, this flexibility allows homeowners to order exactly what their framing application requires.

Fabral

Fabral Metal Wall and Roof Systems is more than 50 years old and offers a wide selection of profiles for metal siding and roofing products. The company produces Energy Star-approved products and focuses on green building practices.

Duchesne

Duchesne is one of the oldest metal siding and roofing producers in the industry. Dating back to 1927, it’s a fourth-generation family-run business that produces commercial and residential exterior metal siding and roofing. Products include standing seam and interlocking panels, available in more than 60 colors and finishes.

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Tom Scalisi
Tom Scalisi is an author and writer specializing in the construction and home improvement industries. His career in the trades spans over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic. Tom has written for several blogs and magazines including bobvila.com, thisoldhouse.com, levelset.com, and more. His first book, "How To Fix Stuff," was published in May 2022. In addition to his professional life, Tom is also an avid baseball fan and coach. He lives in NY's Hudson Valley with his wife, their four children, and two dogs.