When you’re thinking about replacing the siding on your home, how do you know which type of siding to choose? There are, after all, many fantastic options on the market.
If you’re looking for a material that equates to durability, you might want to consider metal siding made of steel. There are multiple benefits to choosing steel siding, primarily, that it’s one of the most economical, long lasting and environmentally friendly materials. The price of steel siding panels is surprisingly affordable, and averages $4-9 per square foot. For a 1,500 sq.ft. home, you can expect to spend $6,000-13,500 for steel siding together with installation.
We’re going to focus on all the essential details regarding steel siding, including material and installation costs, benefits and potential downsides. We will also compare steel house siding to other popular siding materials, to help you figure out whether or not steel is the best option for your home.
Why should I install steel house siding?
(Reference 1: Vertical steel siding by Bridger Steel)
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the first questions homeowners in search of new siding will ask. Granted, some people might find the idea of steel siding unusual.
But if you’re living in an area where winters can be harsh, hailstorms frequent, and where frost is your worst enemy, you’ll likely appreciate the fact that steel blocks any moisture from penetrating. And that also means that you’ll never have to worry about mold, fungi, and all those moisture-related annoyances that can damage your home and even your health.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about insects either, because bugs don’t really like steel. These are just some of the reasons why choosing steel siding could be the best decision you make for your house. But we’ll highlight even more benefits as you read on.
Steel is an ideal choice for a wide range of siding projects:
– Traditional, contemporary style architecture house
– Ranch or Farm house
– Log / Cabin / Mountain home
– Wood working shop
– Home Addition
– Pool house
– Horse barn
– Chicken coop
– Boat house
How long does steel siding last?
Steel siding is the choice to make if you’re gunning for the longevity of your home. If you do some minimal maintenance, it will likely last about 40 years without any issues arising. But more often, it exceeds that period and will even last a few decades more. Many homeowners have steel siding that is 70 years old and is still going strong.
Of, course, the milder your local climate and the less rain and snow the longer your steel siding will last without any corrosion issues.
How much does it cost to side a house with steel?
Steel is a common commodity metal, manufactured from iron and carbon and delivered to the market already manufactured. This is the main reason why the price of steel panels can sometimes vary a lot. In fact, the prices can often fluctuate outrageously. A single metric ton of steel can change from $165 to $50 in less than half a year. So, understandably the price of cladding an entire house with steel siding panels can vary considerably.
On average, homeowners spend $4 – 9 per square foot to install steel siding. On a 1,500 sq.ft. simple ranch-style house For example, it would cost anywhere from $6,000 to $13,500 to side a 1,500 square feet house. Keep in mind that the gauge of steel as well as the manufacturer can also drive the cost of this siding up or down.
If you want insulation, you need to add at least $1.0 per square foot to the total cost.
You can use our Siding Calculator to get a more exact siding replacement price for your house.
Steel panels prices
Depending on the manufacturer and the gauge of steel, you can get steel siding panels from $2 to 6 per square foot.
You can buy steel panels in 26, 28 gauge steel (these are considered heavier industrial grade thickness panels which may not always be ideal for residential applications) or lighter 24 or 22 gauge steel. These lighter gauges of steel are preferred for residential siding but they are also around 10-15% more expensive than heavier gauge steel paneling.
A big benefit of steel panel siding is that it can be arranged either vertically or horizontally. Metal can also be cut to your specifications to create a particular design and you can also reduce the visible amount of seams, depending on how you arrange the panels. However, doing these additional manipulations and any type of custom cutting significantly increases your total installation cost.
Other types of steel siding include:
Tin wall tiles, which can cost $1.5 – 10 per square foot depending on design
Steel cladding, which is already manufactured with insulation board and costs $4-8 per square foot
Steel slats are similar to panels, but they use more of a tongue and groove design. These are often preferred in construction projects that call for increased ventilation. Similar to panels, steel slats can be arranged vertically and horizontally and cost about the same.
Cost of aluminum vs steel siding
Many homeowners considering metal siding for their home debate between aluminum vs steel siding. Here cost can be a deciding factor since aluminum siding can be cheaper than steel. On average aluminum siding costs $3-6 per square foot, compared to $4-8 for steel siding. On a 1,500 sq.ft house, this difference translates into $1,500 – 3,000.
However, when you consider the cost of entire siding installation, the cost difference between steel and aluminum siding is not that significant. Other factors to consider when choosing between these two metal siding options are as follows:
– Steel is heavier and less flexible than aluminum. This makes it more difficult to install and it may require additional supports for house structure. On the up side the thicker panels of steel do not easily bend and are not susceptible to bends and tears.
– The lighter nature of steel makes it easier to manipulate into various shapes not possible with steel and also easier to install overall. However, aluminum is less strong and will also dent and bent much easier if hit by a heavy object or punctured.
– If steel is not coated, its more susceptible to rust and corrosion than aluminum, which is always coated by exterior paint. If you do consider aluminum siding, keep in mind that the quality of paint makes a huge difference in how long it will be able to stand up to the elements, so choose high quality exterior paint for metal siding.
– Steel siding is still very popular due to its modern flair, especially when we are talking about bare metal panels. However, by some standards and in many residential markets aluminum siding is considered to be more outdated and may actually lower the value of your house. If you are considering residing with either steel or aluminum siding, but have plans to sell your home in the near future, it is a good idea to find out how metal siding fares in your local real estate market.
– In terms of energy efficiency, un-insulated aluminum panels have a lower R-value compared to steel panels. However, this can be mitigated if you install insulated metal panels from a company like MBCI.
Siding installation cost and considerations
One of the biggest factors that determines the cost of labor to install steel siding, or any metal siding for that matter is the lack of professional installers that specialize in metal siding. Since metal is not a very popular siding material, it can be a challenge to find a siding pro who can do a quality install.
However, hiring an expert metal siding contractor is crucial, since poorly installed siding will not stand up to the elements, can leak and require repair or replacement much before the end of its normal service life.
Depending on local labor rates, metal siding installers charge $55-90 per hour. In higher income areas, such as Mass, New York, California, Washington State, etc. the cost of installation can be as much as 30-45% higher compared to lower income states like Alabama, Nebraska, etc.
Metal siding installation cost can range from $2-10+ per square foot depending on a number of factors:
– size of the house (square footage)
– number of stories
– need to install insulation
– complexity of house architecture, number of windows, doors, corners, etc
– accessibility issues
– any custom cutting and bending of the metal panels that are not standard sizes or shapes
– cost of removal and disposal of old siding (this can be as high as $1-2 per square foot)
Most homeowners pay $3.5-5 per square foot for professional labor and all construction materials (nails, fasteners, flashing, trim, j-channels, corner caps, etc)
Another factor to consider that may increase the cost of installation is whether you want your steel siding installed vertically or horizontally. Typically, vertical installations are more labor intensive and take more hours to complete, so your contractor will charge a higher price for it. Expect to pay 15-20% premium if you want your steel siding panels installed vertically.
Often a siding replacement job goes along with gutter and roof replacement. The cost of installing new seamless gutters and downspouts averages $10-12 per linear foot.
Roof replacement cost ranges from $5,500 to 13,500 on a 1,500 sq.ft house depending on the roofing material you choose to install.
Most homeowners that install metal siding, also install a metal roof. Metal roofing is available in a wide range of profiles, colors and styles. There are high-end and contemporary looking standing seam panels, budget friendly corrugated steel panels, stone coated steel shingles, or metal shingle profiles that replicate the looks of slate and cedar wood.
Galvalume vs galvanized steel
When shopping for steel house siding its important to know that there are two types of steel available:
Galvanized or G90 steel (cheaper) is coated with a protective layer of zinc
Galvalume steel (more expensive but better resistance do corrosion) is coated with a protective layer of zinc and aluminum combined.
Using corrugated metal roofing panels as siding material
(Reference: Corrugated metal siding on a barn by Badger Corrugating Company)
Many homeowners that want to install steel siding while spending the least amount of money wonder if its possible to install corrugated metal roof panels as siding. In fact, the answer is yes!
This is a great way to save money on a siding install while still getting a high quality durable panel. Metal R panels and 5 V crimp corrugated panels cost as little as $1-1.5 per square foot. This is the route that many DIY savvy homeowners take, as these corrugated panels are readily available at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can either install corrugated metals as siding on your house by yourself or hire a siding contractor.
In addition to your local home improvement store, you can order very inexpensive corrugated steel panels from Menards. They have a few dozen panel styles, colors and sizes to choose from, if you are looking to do a basic no frills project, like building a shed or a wood working shop, etc.
On average, corrugated steel siding costs $5 per square foot, so clearly using corrugated metal roofing panels is much cheaper!
In recent years, corrugated steel siding has been enjoying a surge in popularity in residential construction. Typically, corrugated steel siding is a staple building material for industrial or commercial buildings. However, homeowners that need a strong siding that can withstand hard weather and hair storms have been using this heavy duty siding with great success on residential structures such as sheds, garages, and even their homes.
Can you paint steel siding?
While many manufacturers offer their steal siding panels in a wide range of colors ( there are 15-25 colors to choose from), its also possible to paint steel on your own. The cost of painting steel siding ranges from $1,500-2,500 for a 1,500 sq.ft. house.
If you decide to paint your steel siding, its extremely important to pick top quality paint coating such as Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000. These paint coatings provide an extra layer of protection against corrosion and can extend the life of your metal siding by as much as 10-15 years.
Pro Tip: many homeowners have the misconception that the color of steel siding will fade and chip, and will need to be eventually repainted. However, this is no longer the case, thanks to the highly advanced metal color coatings that are used in manufacturing of steel siding panels today. This technology uses special color pigments and resins which are essentially baked into the metal at a very high temperature, so that they do not fade or crack over time. Once installed, you will actually not need to repaint your steel siding, so pick your color carefully!
Is steel siding better than vinyl?
If you’re an environmentally conscious person, you’re more likely to gravitate to steel siding, given that it’s completely recyclable. Vinyl isn’t the best option when it comes to sustainability.
Plus, durability is an important factor, and this is where steel siding also takes the lead. In areas with harsh weather conditions, heavy rains, wind storms and hail, severe temperature fluctuations, steel siding will surpass the durability of vinyl by many years. Moreover, unlike vinyl or most other siding types for that matter, steel is not susceptible to expansion and contraction as a response to high/low temperatures, which also extends its service life.
The warranty for steel is usually more extensive too, and includes protection against hailstorms, which is unheard of for vinyl siding.
Finally, cost-wise, low to mid-range quality vinyl may be more initially more affordable or on part with cheap steel panels, poor durability doesn’t make the investment into cheap vinyl worth while. More expensive vinyl siding that costs $5-7 per square foot is similar in price to better quality metal siding, and many choose vinyl simply because they prefer its aesthetic appeal.
Steel vs. fiber cement siding
Steel and fiber cement are the biggest competitors when it comes to durability and low-maintenance. Still all things being equal, good quality steel siding will require a lot less maintenance and will last a few decades longer compared to fiber cement. Fiber cement siding will require repainting about every 15 years, but similar to steel, it offer good fire, insect and rot protection for the house.
In terms of looks, fiber cement certainly takes the lead in the eyes of most homeowners, especially those looking for a more traditional look on a Cape, Victorian, Ranch, Colonial, Mid-Century Modern, etc style home. Steel can be more appealing for homeowners with a vision to build an ultra modern, or farm/barn style house.
Importantly, steel is a much better option if you’re building a sustainable home because it’s a natural material that doesn’t pollute the planet.
Finally, when it comes to price, fiber cement is often more expensive than steel siding. And not only because of the volatile prices of steel. Overall, the cost of installing a square foot of fiber cement siding is around $9-12.
Steel vs. wood siding
(Reference: Steel house siding – wood shake profile by Quality Edge)
For many people, wood siding is the only option they will ever accept. What’s better than authentic wood for your home? But wood siding, especially high-quality wood, is usually costly. On average, wood siding costs $7-13 per square foot or more, so steel siding costs at least 50% less.
While both steel and wood siding can both last a very long time, the amount of effort and maintenance that you need to put into real wood siding cannot compare to almost zero effort required with steel. Plus, with wood you do have to worry about fire, cracking, chipping, thermal expansion and contraction of the wood, water damage, rot, insects, rodents, regular staining or repainting. Needless to say, these are all a none-issue with steel siding.
If you really want the look of real wood siding but the benefits of steel, consider cutting edge products from companies like Quality Edge. Their line of TrueCedar Shake Steel siding is truly impressive. While this type of steel siding certainly will cost most than your average corrugated steel panel, it will still be few thousand dollars cheaper than natural wood.
Did you know? Compared to other newer materials, like vinyl, fiber cement or engineered wood, steel siding has been the oldest alternative to the original wood siding that used to grace the majority of homes in the US. Steel siding has been introduced way back in 1903, and has been used as cladding for homes and buildings ever since.
Is metal siding good in cold climates?
(Reference: Contemporary home with steel lap siding during the winter months)
What’s one of the most frequent complaints from homeowners who live in areas with harsh winters? Well, the creaking sounds their homes make might not only be annoying, but a sign of damage.
This usually happens when moisture finds a way in, meaning that steel siding is an excellent option for cold climates. Water can’t penetrate steel, and the panels can’t absorb it. Plus, steel siding allows for additional insulation when necessary. And unlike some other types of siding, there’s enough room underneath the panels to install as much insulation as you want.
In fact, because of its superior protection in harsh weather, steel siding is found more and more frequently in Northeast, in states like Montana, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, etc.
Return on investment
Exterior metal siding made of steel has one of the highest ROI’s (returns on an investment). The average nationwide is around 86%, but it will change depending on the area.
East Coast has an even higher average of around 95%, which is an excellent return. People looking to buy a new house in areas with harsh winters will almost always see steel siding as a plus, not a disadvantage. The situation is the same in areas with heavy wind storms and natural fires. In any of these locations, having steel house siding is a big bonus at resale.
The only problem can be if the steel panels don’t suit the residential area well and stand out, then because of aesthetics, the resale value of the house may be lowered. If you are planning to reside your house with any type of metal siding, its best to consult your local real estate agent first.
Pros & Cons
Now let’s highlight some of the most relevant advantages and disadvantages of steel siding.
Pros you will enjoy with steel siding:
Low to high end pricing available The beauty of steel is that you can make it as cheap or expensive as you want. From DIY projects using corrugated metal roofing panels at $2.5 per square foot, to high-end custom cut steel panels at $12+ square foot and everything in between, you can find steel siding that suits your needs and budget.
Powerful durability One of the features that we keep coming back to is the relentless durability of steel siding. For any other siding material, it’s difficult to compare. Steel is sturdy, pest-resistant, and won’t warp or crack. Steel panels will not blow off during a wind storm or dent from hail. Moreover, this siding is going to retain the same color and shape for a very long time.
Fire-ResistanceSustainability Again, no other siding material can compare to steel siding when it comes to being kind to the planet. Other natural materials like wood are great, but deforestation is a serious problem that affects the environment. That’s why steel siding is the best option for homeowners looking for more sustainability.
Long and almost maintenance free service life Once you install steel siding, you will only need to do minimal maintenance and you can enjoy your siding for at least 40 years.
Wide range of panel sizes, colors and styles Exterior metal siding has come a long way since the days it was installed on barns or industrial buildings. Today, metal siding and steel in particular offers a huge selection of profiles and styles to choose from that can match pretty much any architectural style.
Potential disadvantages of steel
Like any siding material, steel is not without its disadvantages that are important to be aware of:
– Overtime steel can rust, especially if its not protected by a manufacturer’s baked on coating.
– Painted steel of cheaper varieties, or bare metal steel that you paint yourself can scratch easily, compared to high-end panels with special color coatings. Overtime, multiple scratches can not only degrade the curb appeal of your house, but can also contribute to corrosion.
– Steel siding can be noisy during a wind storm. Most homeowners report that it makes a ping-like sound.
– It may be difficult to find a qualified metal siding installer, and as a result you may have to settle for paying higher installation fees, compared to more common siding materials.
– Aesthetically, the look of steel on your house may just not be your thing.
– The color of new steel siding that is currently manufactured will not fade or chip overtime.
Best steel siding manufacturers
The siding industry is flooded with many brands that focus on one type of siding or the other. If you’re set on installing steel siding at your house, these are the top manufacturers to consider.
EDCO: this is a company with a rich history. They take pride in the fact that all of the materials they use for siding and roofing are 100% sustainable. Their steel siding is paintable, and their products include traditional lap, vertical, shake, or even a combination of them all. Also, EDCO offer 100 colors and 4 finishes to choose from!
Bridger Steel these guys have an innovative solution to any kind of metal siding or roofing problem. They provide an excellent selection of siding panels, including rustic, bare, and vintage. Their products stand above the rest in terms of style and aesthetic appeal. Bridger Steel has one of the widest selections of panel types and sizes in the residential metal siding market. This is frequently the go to steel siding specified by architects for high-end custom built houses.
Quality Edge if you are looking for a modern sleek look of metal, this company has what to offer. All their steel siding has a stunning contemporary aesthetic, and a wide range of choices to consider. For example, their newest offering, Vesta Steel product line has 8 unique solid colors and 4 rich wood grain colors to choose from. If you are looking for the look of real cedar shakes, they have the TrueCedar Shake siding that has a wide range of colors from new to aged cedar wood.
PlyGem Steel this is a huge, well-known company that has distributors all over the country. They are primarily known for their vinyl siding, but also offer steel and aluminum siding. While the aesthetics may not be as stunning as some of the specialty steel siding manufacturers, you have the benefit of easier availability, cheaper pricing and a decent selection of styles and colors. PlyGem offers higher end seamless steel siding, board and batten, shake, as well as steel lap siding.
Whirlwind Steel in case you are looking for the unadulterated look of metal, Whirlwind has what to offer. Their panels offer superior durability without any fancy looks or specialty colors that mimic other siding materials. Steel is what you get, in its simple glory. They offer a wide selection of ribbed panels that can be used for both siding and roofing applications.
MBCI this is another company that offers high quality steel siding that looks more like metal than anything else. They offer metal wall systems with concealed or exposed fasteners, as well as insulated steel panels, ideal in harsh climates and will boost the energy efficiency of your home with improved R-value.
TruLog this company’s main objective is to install the strength and durability of steel while presenting the beauty and elegance of wood. Their “logs” are very realistic and one of the best in the industry. They also have Board and Batten steel panels to consider. Overall, TruLog siding is ideal if you are looking to side a cabin in the woods, a garage, a horse barn or a shed. This steel log siding is also very low-maintenance and relatively simple to install.
Is steel the best siding option for a house?
Steel siding is rarely going to be the wrong decision to make for your house or for your commercial building. If you love the look and feel of metal and want a hassle-free material that will protect your property in any weather, steel siding is the winning choice.
As we mentioned before, finding the right contractor will be crucial to ensure that your new siding does its job well and lasts for decades to come.
You have a lot of freedom in setting your budget and picking the steel product that appeals to your vision of a dream home.
Let us know in the comments below if you have installed steel siding on your home, how much you spent and how you are enjoying your new siding.
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