For decades, homeowners have searched for a house siding that will outlast wood, while remaining attractive and easy to maintain. Since the 1940s, metal sidings like steel and aluminum have both been options that people could choose as an alternative to wood. Steel and aluminum can have realistic looking wood grain textures and are available in a range of styles, so it can complement any style of home.
Despite the fact that these two materials are similar and have been around for equal amounts of time, they perform very differently in installation and long-term use. Understanding the differences between them can help you choose the most durable and longest lasting material for your home.
Aluminum siding was one of the first materials introduced in the 1940s as an alternative to wood siding. Many of the issues with wood had to do with its longevity and maintenance, and aluminum was seen as an alternative to wood that could help solve those issues.
Wood’s biggest issues are with moisture, insect activity, and fire. Wood can absorb moisture, swelling, shrinking, warping, and eventually rotting over time. To protect it, paint or stain must be regularly applied to its surface. But, UV rays from the Sun frequently cause the paint to delaminate and peel, so you need to frequently scrape and repaint, which is wood’s biggest drawback.
Aluminum siding resists moisture, insect activity, and flame, so it doesn’t succumb to the same problems as wood. It’s available in a wide range of plank sizes and styles, and a range of colors. Some manufacturers produce only smooth planks, but many now make styles similar to wood grain lap siding and cedar shingles. Aluminum is also fully recyclable, so it’s a more eco-friendly material than some other wood alternatives on the market.
Aluminum does overcome many of wood’s issues, but it has several drawbacks of its own. Aluminum is a very lightweight material, which makes installation easy, but it also means that your siding can dent easily too. Aluminum has been known to become dented with very little impact, and if you live in an area that’s prone to hail, you can expect your siding to be covered in dents after just one storm.
The finish that’s baked onto aluminum doesn’t peel, but it doesn’t exactly stay true for years either. The UV rays from the Sun can make the finish break down, causing it to become chalky, so that it brushes off on your clothes and hands. It also scratches easily, exposing the color of the metal beneath. While it doesn’t rust, the only way to fix these scratches or the fading color is to repaint. This means that aluminum isn’t quite as durable or as low-maintenance as it’s often made out to be.
Steel siding was introduced around the same time as aluminum and solved many of the same issues. Like aluminum, it resists the issues that plague wood such as moisture problems, rot, insect activity, and fire. Just like aluminum, you won’t have to worry about the siding rotting, swelling, or warping over time. Steel is eco-friendly and is completely recyclable at the end of its lifespan, so you don’t need to worry about it the way that you would with vinyl siding and some other shorter lived materials that can’t be easily disposed of.
The biggest difference between aluminum and steel is that steel is much heavier and more durable than aluminum. It doesn’t dent upon impact, so it holds its appearance longer without as many issues.
Steel also comes in a wide range of styles including board and batten wood grain siding and insulated log-look siding, both available in several attractive colors. The color and texture lasts a lot longer and holds on better to steel than it does to aluminum, so you don’t need to worry about repainting your home, making it much lower in maintenance than aluminum, as well as more durable. Some older and lower quality steel sidings could scratch in the past, exposing the metal which would then rust due to the iron content. However, newer steel siding and finishing techniques mean that the siding can now hold up better so that rust isn’t a concern any longer.
For anyone looking for a truly low maintenance and durable siding that will last, steel makes an ideal choice, outlasting aluminum, vinyl, and wood when properly installed.
Make the More Durable Choice
If you like the look of wood siding, but want the durability and low-maintenance care of metal, consider steel siding for your home. Steel can give you the appearance and texture of wood, along with long-lasting color and beauty. It resists warping, moisture problems, fire, and dents, and can be easily cleaned by simply hosing it off. If you’ve been considering new siding for your home, make the truly low-maintenance choice and choose steel siding for your exterior.