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Aluminum siding - Installation, maintenance, costs

Finding the best exterior cladding for your home requires homeowners to choose between the importance of durability, environmental impact, aesthetics, and performance. The siding you opt for gives your home a distinctive look and the first line of protection against the elements. Though vinyl siding has continuously been the most popular exterior cladding option for the past two decades, homeowners today have several affordable options to choose from. We often think of metal or aluminum as roofing materials. However, one recent survey found that roughly 2 percent of new homes in 2018 opted for aluminum siding for their exterior walls. Below, we look at the pros and cons, as well as the costs of aluminum siding, to help you decide if this cladding option works for you. By finishing reading this article, you will be able to make the right buying solution.

Aluminum siding - Installation, maintenance, costs

What to consider before aluminum siding installation?

Aluminum siding is an excellent option if you want to give your home a fresh look, as well as long-lasting protection from the elements. Believe it or not, aluminum siding does not simply come in metallic, silver planks that look like industrial buildings. This siding comes in a wide variety of colors and can convincingly create the look of more expensive wood siding, as well as other high-quality types of siding, at a much lower cost.

Modern aluminum siding is dent-resistant, impervious to insects, and fire-proof. In fact, if you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, installing aluminum siding may even help you get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premiums. Aluminum siding is very low maintenance, and it can last up to 40 or more years with proper care. Additionally, installing a new aluminum siding won't cost you an arm and a leg as it is the second most affordable siding type to install.

The color of aluminum is applied at the factory. Customers order the color they want from those offered, and the enamel provides a strong, long-lasting finish. The enamel finish on aluminum panels usually comes with a 15 to a 25-year warranty covering fading or chalking. If you take good care of aluminum siding by keeping it clean and impacts to a minimum, it will last more than 50 years. Besides, aluminum siding repair approached by a professional siding contractor can prolong its expected service life.

The metal can be stamped or molded with a wood grain pattern. Homeowners and builders will often create designs that combine sections of aluminum siding with other materials, such as stone or masonry, to provide a unique look.

While this is often the siding of choice for those wanting an industrial look, there are other ways to use it. For example, homeowners often elect to use it for soffits and gables because of its durability. These components will never need to be painted, as the sun doesn’t shine on the underside of the eaves, and they will not get dented by hailstones or foot traffic.

Aluminum siding upkeep ideas

While aluminum siding can last up to 40 years, it probably will not stay great-looking without regular siding maintenance. It may be helpful to think about siding care in the same way you would for your car. Both smooth metal surfaces must be covered with paint, cleaned, and polished regularly to maintain their sheen.

To keep your aluminum siding looking great:

  • Pressure wash every 6 to 12 months. This will eliminate oxidized paint's faded or chalky look and prevent dirt, dust, or mold from accumulating. Fill the plastic dip tube of the pressure washer with laundry detergent, and your siding will remain bright and shiny for years. Use bleach and a soft bristle cleaning brush on any spots where mildew has accumulated. For a more eco-friendly option to bleach, try vinegar or borax. You will want to rinse your siding before and after using any cleaning solution to prevent marks from where the solution dries.
  • Never scrape or sand. This type of siding is prone to scratching, so be careful never to scrape it. If you need to sand it, use 400-600 grit sandpaper.
  • Repaint every five years. For a quick color touchup and repair, use color-matched spray paint.
  • Use a primer for unpainted siding. If your siding is bare (no colored enamel baked on), use a zinc oxide primer to keep your siding looking its best.
  • Use metal-specific fillers. If the need arises to patch an aluminum surface, use a filler specifically made for metal, like Bondo for cars.

What are the benefits of aluminum siding?

Depending on the location and weather conditions of the building and other factors, buying quality aluminum siding can be a wise choice. However, as with any cladding system, there are both beneficial characteristics and harmful properties when it comes to cladding and creating a facade for a facility with aluminum. Here are some primary advantages and drawbacks of quality aluminum siding systems. 

  • Environmental friendliness. Aluminum siding is considered a “green” siding product. It is 100% recyclable, so there is no need for it to ever go to a landfill. Some manufacturers produce only 100% recycled siding, while others use a significant amount of recycled materials to produce their siding.
  • Energy efficiency. Unlike other forms of siding, aluminum is a good insulator, and heavier aluminum provides more insulation than thinner gauges. Bare aluminum has an R-Value of .61. If you add insulation to the back, it provides an R-value of 2 to 5. It keeps heat out in the summer and keeps warmth in during the winter. As for insulation, metal does better than vinyl, saving you on your utility bills.
  • Density. When choosing and buying quality aluminum siding for a project, the first thing to consider is the thickness. Aluminum is a soft substance in metal classification, meaning the thickness of the cladding system makes a significant difference. The typical thickness is 44 gauge. However, it is better to opt for a 53 gauge siding system for people who want the best result. 53 gauge thickness material is more expensive, but it is considered a good investment. A cladding with suitable thickness will not require aluminum siding replacement or repair for at least 40 years. 
  • Resistant to corrosion. For people who live in coastal communities and areas with higher air moisture levels, buying cladding materials resistant to humidity is essential. Quality Aluminum siding is an excellent choice for such locations. Wood and many other cladding products absorb moisture, resulting in health-related problems and building damage. On the other hand, aluminum sidings do not swell, rot, or rust. These cladding materials are waterproof and provide perfect protection for the facility against moisture issues. 
  • Variety. Many different patterns and textures are available for aluminum panels – many imitating the look of wood siding. The panels can come pre-painted in the baked-on color of your choice, or you can paint the siding yourself.

While most people think of horizontal planks when picturing siding, this product is also available in vertical panels. This allows you to design any look you want to match your home’s architecture.

For a rustic ranch style or bungalow, you may want vertical panels in a board and batten design. This pattern can be ordered with reveals of double 4” and double 5” as well as single 10” and single 12.”

How much does aluminum siding cost?

Aluminum siding costs between $1.75 and $7 per square foot to install on a home. If you were to install aluminum siding on the average 1,500 square foot home, you could expect to pay a national average of $6,563 in total installation costs at about $4.40 per sq. ft. Project costs will vary depending on the size and design of your house, additional materials needed, local labor rates, and the cost to remove old siding if necessary. 

Aluminum siding is one of the most cost-effective siding materials on the market. You can expect it to last at least 40 years, which makes the investment well worth it.

Because of the lightweight panels, an aluminum siding installation is relatively simple. Replacing your home siding with aluminum can yield about a 77% rate of return on investment, depending on the total cost and your home’s ultimate resale value.

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