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Aluminum vs. Steel: How Metal Siding Compares

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

Many people building their own homes have a difficult time choosing exterior finishes because they have to take aesthetics and performance into account. And whether you’re looking at the roof, windows, or siding and trim, you can get overwhelmed weighing the pros and cons of different materials before you even start shopping. The great diversity of siding in particular makes it one of the toughest building decisions out there!

If you want a good all-around investment, metal siding is worth your consideration. It’s exceptionally durable—holding up against major environmental challenges found across the country—and eco-friendly thanks to its recyclability, and it comes in different looks and colors to beautifully outfit all kinds of homes. Steel and aluminum siding both make great choices, but do you know where each stands out? Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting metal siding.

Ply Gem Steel Lap Siding

With woodgrain texture, this Steel Lap Siding offers the appeal of wood without the maintenance concerns. Its five-layered construction protects against environmental stressors including moisture and mildew, insects, extreme temperatures, and high winds. It comes with 50-year hail and 35-year chalk and fade coverage in its limited lifetime warranty, too!

Steel Siding

Those who need siding that can stand up to a challenge are drawn to steel. Insurance companies love it, too—you can often get a discount on your premium! Steel makes a great choice in high-risk fire zones because it doesn’t burn, and in wind zones because its rigidity helps it stick tightly to walls. In areas with harsh sun, it reflects UV rays to prevent heat from creeping into the structure, reducing the need for air conditioning. It doesn’t absorb moisture and can withstand heat and cold, so you don’t have to worry about precipitation, damage from temperature changes, or mold creeping in. Issues common with other types of siding like warping, chipping, and cracking just don’t apply here, either. With all these advantages, it’s no wonder that steel siding has always been the preferred choice for commercial buildings.

On the residential front, you’ll see steel siding on contemporary homes of all ages, as it provides a light industrial vibe popular for the style. It has also expanded into the traditional market in more recent years thanks to consumer demand! Lap and board and batten steel siding with woodgrain texture can help you complete your home in a classic look without signing up for the maintenance that real wood requires.

Ply Gem Mastic Envoy

Mastic® Envoy® aluminum siding also features woodgrain texture and very low upkeep. The Alumalure® 200 Finish combines a rust-inhibiting primer and a durable topcoat over a thick aluminum panel to withstand the elements. Eco-conscious consumers will also love that the product is 100% recyclable and made with up to 67% recycled materials!

Aluminum Siding

Did you know that aluminum siding actually used to be one of the most popular options for homes? Lightweight and affordable, aluminum had a top spot in the market until the energy crisis of the 1970s increased the cost of raw metal and gave rise to vinyl siding as another low-maintenance, but more cost-effective material. Aluminum still has its advantages, though! It resists damage from moisture, pests, extreme temperatures, etc. It does not burn, so insurance may give you a discount in some places. Additionally, aluminum is a natural insulator—think about how you use aluminum foil while cooking—so it modestly increases the R-value of walls to help create a more efficient home. It also resists corrosion, so it’s preferred for coastal and other very humid locales. All of this coupled with a budget-friendly price tag makes aluminum a natural choice for many.

Not sure if steel or aluminum siding is right for you? Ask a local dealer or your builder for a recommendation! As with anything, the best choice depends on your circumstances; one material may stand out as the better choice for your area when you consider climate and other environmental challenges. A local professional makes the best resource because they've seen it all before and can provide the most relevant advice.

If you think metal siding is the perfect solution for your home, check out the steel and aluminum options available from Ply Gem®. With woodgrain texture and durable coatings to keep the metal and finish in top shape throughout the seasons, you can expect this siding to be in it for the long haul. They offer a variety of colors and lifetime warranties that stand behind their products, so connect with a local professional to discuss your needs. It’s all made in the United States and 100% recyclable, so you can feel great about making an impactful building choice, too!