A Metal Expert’s Guide to Steel Siding

Steel siding has emerged as a major contender in the design world as architects and homeowners explore siding options outside of wood and vinyl siding. Not only can steel siding accomplish many of the popular designs showcased in magazines—like shiplap or woodgrain—but it has a level of durability and longevity other siding options can’t even start to compete with. Below we’ll review the ins and outs of steel siding so you can make informed decisions and recommendations for your next build.

The Ins and Outs of Steel Siding

Types of Steel Siding

Steel siding is available in a wide range of profile types to fit every aesthetic and construction need. Basically, if we have a steel panel profile in stock, you can not only use it for metal roofing projects but siding projects, as well—it all comes down to the function, design, and vision for your build.

Like steel roofing panels, you can get your siding panels in their raw material form, coated with a speciality finish, or painted with your chosen color. Coatings can be applied to the profile you choose to enhance the panel’s durability, allowing you to select from galvanized or galvalume steel siding panels, among others. Additionally, steel panels can be painted with the color of your choice (depending upon supplier availability and the profile you choose) to enhance the value and design of the project.

If you don’t see a profile type below that meets your vision or are wondering what colors are available for steel siding, chat with our team. Below are a few of the most commonly used profile types for steel siding:

  • Corrugated
  • Standing Seam
  • Ultra Batten
  • Box Rib
  • All Purpose
  • Flat

Want to learn more about Great Northern Metal Company’s options for metal siding panels? View our concealed fastener panels and exposed fastener panels.

Difficulty Level

How difficult steel siding is to work with depends on the type of panel profile you choose and your level of experience. If you’re skilled at measuring and cutting, and you are working with a corrugated metal panel, the difficulty level’s about a 2 on a scale from 1 to 5. But if you choose a nail strip panel for a siding project, that bumps up the difficulty level to a 3 or 4. With any panel you choose, it’s vital to review the panel’s installation guidelines before tackling the installation project.

Steel Siding Aesthetic

One of the best qualities of steel siding is its design versatility.! Steel siding can boost the visual appeal of your build by providing a unique accent piece or an all-around cohesive look, depending on what your vision is. From placing vertical panels to create the popular shiplap look to using corrugated panels to mimic the classic farmhouse design, steel siding can be just as—if not more—versatile than wood or vinyl panels. A wide variety of aesthetics can be accomplished by using metal siding, including the following:

  • Rustic Metal Siding – As a dominant Montana aesthetic, steel siding can help you create a range of rustic designs from natural cabin looks to the classic farmhouse style. Different types of painted coatings can help you achieve the specific rustic vision, such as using wood grain painted panels to mimic cedar planks or placing panels with a weathered paint color to give your build a vintage, earthy touch.
  • Modern Metal Siding – If you’re looking for a more avant-garde design for your build, panel profiles like standing seam can be applied as siding to your commercial or residential project to amplify the building’s sleek, contemporary beauty.
  • Classic Metal Siding – If your build needs to comply with local HOA requirements or blend with the design of the surrounding neighborhood, steel siding’s simple can make your build look elegant and timeless.

Steel Siding Maintenance & Longevity

One of steel siding’s biggest pros is it is incredibly low maintenance, both before and after installation. If you’ve done your research and have the proper education, installing steel siding is a relatively quick process compared to other siding options. Additionally, metal panels do not need to be replaced as often as alternative siding options due to its natural durability. Steel siding doesn’t absorb moisture or heat like wood or vinyl siding does, so there is no worry about mold or fungus growth. For general steel siding maintenance, we recommend cleaning and rinsing off the panels every few months, just like you would wash your car.

Another major asset of steel siding is its longevity. Metal panels are more durable than other siding options, and they can stand up to extreme weather conditions (we’ll explore this more in the next section). Metal panels do not deteriorate as easily as other panel types, so they can stay looking brand new for years on end. With proper care and maintenance, steel siding can last for over 50 years before needing panel replacement. In comparison, cedar siding can last up to 40 years, and vinyl lasts between 50-60 years.

Climate & Fire Resistance

There’s no contest when it comes to steel siding’s durability and resistance to the elements. While vinyl and wood panels are extremely susceptible to the elements and often need replacement after an intense storm, steel panels can manage a wide range of temperature extremes. From deflecting the harsh summer sun to withstanding strong winds to making heavy snow and ice easy to brush off, steel siding can stand up against the toughest Montana weather conditions.

Additionally, steel siding has the bonus advantage of being fire-resistant. Though fire hazards can be unavoidable at times, metal panels have shown to be the most fire-resistant among alternative siding options. Its tough exterior can withstand extreme heat, helping to not spread or ignite fires throughout the building. Most steel panels have a Class A fire rating, which is the highest fire resistance rating possible. Class A means the material in question offers maximum protection from fires.

Challenges of Steel Siding

While the pros of steel siding largely outweigh the cons, contractors need to be aware that steel panels come with their own, unique challenges, just like any material you choose to work with. With proper education and insight, you can better work with steel siding and make it an asset to your project, not its downfall. Below are a few factors to be aware of when working with steel siding:

  • Paint on Panels Can be Scratched & Dented – Unfortunately, scratches can be common with metal panels, especially if they are not installed without the care they need or if surrounding foliage becomes overgrown and brushes against the building. Denting, as well, can happen to metal panels if they are mishandled by an inexperienced installer.
  • Requires Proper Education before Installing – Not every siding crew can install steel siding; it requires solid education.
  • Not the Cheapest Option on the Market – There is an initial upfront cost when choosing steel siding, but its longevity and durability make the initial investment worth it in the long run. The cost of steel siding, on average, is around $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot.

Why is Steel Siding a Good Choice for Montana Builds?

While aluminum siding products are the most popular in our region, steel siding’s valuable qualities often make it the better, more reliable choice for Montana projects. Compared to wood or vinyl siding, metal siding requires much less maintenance due to its durability. This can be very helpful since our state experiences various harsh types of weather. At our higher-than-average altitude, the sun can be very intense in the summers, and snow piles up against the sides of buildings in the winter. Metal siding can withstand a wide range of weather types, from deflecting the sun away from your building to making snow easy to brush or slip off your building. Compared to replacing and maintaining wood or stone siding, metal siding is more cost effective and longer lasting, making it an optimal choice for Montana buildings.

Let’s Chat Steel Siding

If you are considering incorporating steel siding in your next Bozeman residential metal siding or commercial metal siding project, reach out to our team today for an expert’s advice. Our team has decades of combined experience in a wide range of metal roofing and siding systems, so we can provide you with the best options for your unique needs. To speak to a professional or get a quote, drop us a line or give us a call at (406) 624-0435.

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