Aluminum siding emerged as a popular alternative to wood after World War II. While it has steadily lost market share to vinyl and other newer materials since then, aluminum is making a bit of a comeback in contemporary homes and apartment buildings, where it’s being used as an exterior accent. The material does have a few shortcomings, but for most homeowners, they are overshadowed by aluminum’s durability and affordability.
Aluminum Siding Options
If you’re interested in aluminum siding but aren’t sure where to begin, consider the following options to find the aluminum product that’s right for you.
The most common choice for aluminum siding is horizontal panels that resemble traditional wooden clapboards. It is also possible to install vertical aluminum panels, as well as those that look like wood shakes and shingles.
One of the major selling points of aluminum, especially when compared to vinyl, is the broad range of color choices. Most manufacturers offer a dozen or more aluminum siding colors, and keep in mind that aluminum – unlike vinyl – can be painted, which makes your color options virtually unlimited.
A custom aluminum finish coupled with a custom color can really make your siding stand out. Popular finish choices include smooth, textured, shiny, and matte. Aluminum siding provides one of the most realistic-looking wood grains of any synthetic material.
The thickness or “gauge” of an aluminum siding product primarily determines how well it resists denting, although a thicker gauge can also hold a deeper wood grain pattern. For residential purposes, a gauge between 0.019 and 0.024 inches should be sufficient.
Traditional aluminum siding is smooth and resembles wood siding, but corrugated (or ribbed) aluminum, once used for industrial and farming applications, is often used nowadays for accent walls, awnings, window wells, and much more. The cool metal can make a stunning contrast when paired with rich, warm colors.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Siding
While the advantages of aluminum siding outweigh the disadvantages, there are a few things every prospective buyer should know about aluminum.
On the plus side, aluminum performs very well under most conditions and is relatively inexpensive. Aluminum can, however, corrode, dent, and scratch.
One of the main reasons why homeowners choose aluminum is its value: the material is less expensive to install than wood, and about the same, if not slightly more expensive, than vinyl. But when you consider performance – aluminum won’t rot, burn, or rust, is impervious to insects and birds, and can be used in any climate, whether it’s hot and dry or cold and damp – aluminum’s value really stands out. In most cases, new aluminum siding should last for 40 years or more.
As for the drawbacks of aluminum siding, it can dent, scratch, and if not properly cared for (i.e. repainted when necessary), corrosion might be an issue. By and large, however, the most maintenance that’s typically required on aluminum siding is gentle cleaning with a garden hose twice a year.
Aluminum Siding Costs
Actual aluminum siding prices can vary depending on local labor and material costs, home height and layout, current metal market prices, the type of product used, and other factors.
- Aluminum siding starts at around $3 – $5 per square foot installed.
- Better-quality materials cost approximately $5 – $7 per square foot installed.
- Assuming an average-sized home with 1,500 exterior square feet, expect an aluminum siding price range of roughly $4,500 – $10,500.
- If it’s necessary to remove and dispose of the existing siding, this might add an addition $1,500 – $2,500 to the project cost.