Other than a roof, a home’s siding is probably the most important decision that a homeowner ever has to make when it comes to a home remodel. The reason is simple: a home’s siding not only largely determines how a home presents itself to the world, but siding is also responsible for protecting the home’s structure and for providing insulation.
Maintenance must also be a primary concern. Not only does maintenance require a homeowner’s precious time, but it also translates into either a direct cash savings or an expense for the homeowner each and every month.
How well a home’s siding insulates is also important. Proper insulation can save a homeowner on utilities each and every month, which can add up to a great deal over time.
Homeowners have a wide range of choices when it comes to the siding on a home. In some areas, a homeowner’s choices are limited by deed restrictions or other local considerations, but most homeowners have at least some choice. One choice is metal siding, and this article will focus on metal siding pros and cons.
Let’s start with the benefits of metal over other alternatives.
One of the advantages of metal cladding is its low maintenance. Compared with some other choices, metal requires very little attention from a homeowner once it is properly installed. This is especially true for those areas of the country subject to severe winters. Snow, sleet, frost, rain, wind and even heat have very little effect upon metal. Metal also does not absorb moisture or promote the growth of mold or fungus, both of which can destroy a home’s framing and can pose health hazards to the occupants.
Obviously, the thicker the metal, the better it will withstand day to day abuse, as well as any extreme events. Because aluminum is considerably softer than steel, the thickness of aluminum is especially important. Aluminum base siding has a .032 thickness which is 74% thicker than many steel counterparts, making it stronger and more dent resistant than aluminum.
Metal is also extremely unfriendly toward insects. Insect damage can be a problem with many home sidings, and the regular spraying which some sidings require in order to repel insects can be costly over time. All insect problems are eliminated with metal.
The aesthetic qualities of metal, both aluminum as well as steel siding, have come a long way in recent years. Today’s aluminum and steel siding comes in patterns and textures which mimic wood, and pre-painted metal can provide a homeowner with up to twenty years – or even more in some cases, of carefree living. Steel siding, as opposed to aluminum siding, can also be very dent-resistant.
Another advantage to metal siding is its fire resistance. Even if a home is struck by lightning, a metal-clad dwelling is almost impervious to fire. This can be a tremendous advantage in high fire areas or areas prone to frequent lightning storms. Such protection might also translate into lower monthly homeowner insurance premiums, you can check with local homeowner’s insurance agents regarding any potential savings on premiums.
Aluminum siding can also be economical to purchase and install, saving homeowners money up-front as well as down the road.
Of course, as with almost anything, metal siding also has its drawbacks.
Let’s start with aluminum siding. Aluminum is a soft metal and dents easily. Hail, a stray baseball, even heavy rain or a power wash can dent aluminum siding, especially the less-expensive lower gauge sidings. And when one piece or one section of aluminum siding is dented, it can be difficult to replace.
Not only can aluminum siding be difficult to replace, but matching the color of the replacement pieces can also pose a real problem. The reason for this is simple, aluminum siding (as opposed to steel siding) often does not hold colors well. Pre-colored aluminum siding has a tendency, in many cases, to fade or turn chalky after only a few years of exposure to the elements. Some homeowners also complain that colors tend to run off of aluminum siding after a while. Also, when trying to match pre-colored aluminum siding, there is little or no guarantee that a manufacturer will continue producing a specific color. However, it should be noted that aluminum siding can be re-painted with a quality paint for long-lasting beauty.
All metal sidings, even the most heavy-duty siding, are subject to denting if struck with sufficient force. Sharp objects can even pierce metal, especially aluminum, which is softer than steel. Metal sidings are also subject to scratching, which will reveal the underlying metal. Aluminum will not rust, but steel siding that has been scratched must be repainted immediately or it is subject to rusting.
Steel generally holds its color better than aluminum. Steel siding does not turn “chalky” over time as aluminum can. However, after exposure to the elements steel siding can be susceptible to rusting. This is true even of steel siding, which has been coated with a rust-resistant compound. Homeowners in coastal areas, subject to salt spray, frequent fogs or other dampness need to keep this consideration in mind.
Steel siding is also more expensive than aluminum or most other types of siding. Not only does it carry a higher initial price tag, but steel siding is thicker and heavier than aluminum siding and is more difficult and time-consuming to install; this can drive up installation costs and time considerably. However, these initial costs can be balanced by the longer life expectancy of steel siding over most other types of siding.
Metal does not insulate as well as other types of siding, although adding insulation underneath the metal can alleviate most of this problem. Many homeowners with metal cladding also complain that they are not protected from outside noises as well as homeowners who choose other types of siding. Again, this problem may be rectified, at least to a large extent, by adding additional insulating material under the siding.
There is one final advantage to metal, especially for homeowners who are attempting to go “green.” Metal is recyclable and need not end up in a landfill when its day is done.
No siding is perfect. Every type of siding has its advantages and its disadvantages. Metal sidings are unlikely to allow water to penetrate, but metal is more subject to disfigurement than other types of siding. The severity of any disadvantage must be balanced by the area in which one lives, the intensity of local weather and the homeowner’s specific needs, both short-term as well as long-term. Once all of those considerations are added into the mix, the homeowner then has to balance the advantages and disadvantages – as well as both short-term and long-term costs – of any particular siding before making any final decision.