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Pros and Cons of Steel Siding (Plus 5 Design Ideas)

You may be surprised to learn that steel siding is actually an amazing siding material to choose for the exterior of your home. Many of the same reasons why commercial buildings are often sided with steel are similar to why a residential home can also benefit. With a growing number of different steel siding manufacturers making this siding with residential use in mind, there is a huge variety of different colors and designs to choose from as well.

If you’re siding a new home/addition or want to re-side your house, steel may be one of the premier materials you could choose for your house siding.

A. Pros: Why Steel Siding is a Superior Choice

Sadly steel is often low on the list when homeowners are researching siding options, often due to the above mentioned reason that many associate steel or metal with commercial/industrial use. Steel siding is actually right at home on a residential exterior and is one of the most superior choices when it comes to versatility and just plain toughness.

1. One of the Most Eco-Friendly Materials

As consumers become more aware of their impact on their environment the demand for more eco-friendly materials continues to grow. Steel siding if one of the most green options for siding for two main reasons – it can be made from recycled steel and old steel can also be recycled. No harmful chemicals or pollution are leached into the air. Low maintenance needs also means even less ecological damage is supported since you won’t need to repaint or re-stain anything.

2. Excellent Durability and Overall Value

Steel siding is easily one of the most valuable siding options. Upfront cost aside, steel siding can last 50+ years and with very little care needed during that time. It is resistant to wildlife and insect damage. Steel siding can also handle essentially any harsh weather conditions you can throw at it. Sharp temperatures swings won’t affect it like other materials and storms of all types can’t do the same amount of damage to steel as they can to vinyl, composite, or wood.

With how much protection you get from steel siding there really isn’t any other siding that is as valuable in that scenario.

3. Ideal for Majority of North American Regions

Back to versatility, steel siding will perform well in pretty much any North American climate, though it naturally does best in drier regions like the Midwest, Northeast and Southwest. That being said one of the most popular regions for steel siding is the Southeast. Cities in the Southeast region are often confronted by tornadoes, and using steel siding makes home far more resistant to high-winds and impact than other sidings. Essentially regardless of where you live you can probably make steel siding work.

4. Can Be Easily Insulated for Improved Temperature- and Sound-Resistance

Choosing a thick steel siding is important if you want the best sound- and temperature-resistance. Steel on its own isn’t naturally insulative, but the advantage is that steel siding can be very easily and inexpensively insulated during construction and/or a re-siding project. If you live in a region where temperature swings or very prominent seasonal changes occur, steel siding will work well.

Similarly, if you live in a place that is urban or near a busy roadway you can help eliminate excessive noise by soundproofing walls, with the steel siding being a great physical exterior sound barrier to work from.

B. Cons: When to Reconsider Steel Siding

Every siding material has its drawbacks, and steel siding is certainly not without its faults. If you fall into either of these 3 situations you may want to consult a professional before moving forward with steel siding.

1. Homes on the Coast or in Wet Climates

The only places where many manufacturers use caution when recommending their steel siding is for homes along the coastline or those in very wet climates. If your home is within half mile or so of saltwater you will find that steel is more likely to rust, and if it does rust will rust very quickly when exposed to fog or salty air. Similarly wet climates will also exacerbate rusting if the steel siding becomes damaged.

2. Homes in Very Hot Climates

As mentioned above steel siding can be easily insulated, and this is true for insulating against heat. There are plenty of happy homeowners with steel-sided homes in the Southwest, but steel is not as naturally resistant to heat as organic siding materials or primarily wood composites. This means if you live in a hot area you will be spending more money on proper insulation to help your steel exterior reflect more heat.

3. Low Budget is a Primary Concern

There is an argument about whether steel siding is truly considered to be a more expensive option. It goes without saying that the initial cost of premium steel siding is expensive, sometimes double the cost compared to other siding options. This could even be more when factoring in additional labor costs for installation.

Many homeowners are comfortable with the upfront cost as steel siding is so long-lasting that it will pay for itself. That being said if you are on a very tight budget and the upfront cost is really more important than long-term value, then steel siding probably is going to be out of your price range.

5 Steel Siding Design Ideas

The plain steel panels that cover commercial buildings doesn’t do this material justice at all. While steel by nature seems fairly limited compared to organics like wood, there is still plenty of room for uniqueness and modernity.

Here are just 5 examples of how you can get inventive with this siding:

1. Mix Wood with Steel

Warm wood and more industrial steel actually makes for a very attractive combination. Incorporating wood siding on one full wall face or on half around the entire exterior is a great way of making a steel-sided house feel more inviting.

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2. Go Rustic with Weathered Steel

Buying pre-weathered steel siding is a great way to get the “lived in” look without worrying about uncontrolled rusting. If you like rustic themes you’ll really like this exterior.

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3. Focus on Contrast

Even if you prefer a neutral exterior that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Create a striking look by using a contrasting trim color or exterior window shutters. This is a great way of creating drama without the worry of it coming across too strong.

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4. Two-Tone Walls

Steel siding isn’t limited to boring grey/silver – there is actually a whole palette of different colored steel siding available. Using a more neutral steel shade for the upper half of a wall while the bottom half of the wall can be a brightly colored steel (or vice versa).

Photo by jcaggieMore contemporary patio ideas

5. Use an Alternative Pattern

Majority of steel siding is done in either a horizontal or vertical pattern, with the latter being a little less common. These aren’t your only options, however. A diagonal pattern looks very eye-catching and can easily be done by a professional.

Photo by Gabhart Investments, Inc.Browse beach style exterior home photos

Steel siding is a wonderful option for many homeowners, but one that certainly doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Though this material is most famous for industrial or residential out buildings, like a shed or garage, there are some manufacturers that design steel siding that is perfect for home exteriors. If you value durability, weather-resistance, and low-maintenance, steel siding should be on your list to seriously consider.

Related: 4 Types of Cement Siding