Exterior walls come in a wide variety of applications and finishes, and are used to provide structural support, added attractiveness, and increased energy efficiency for homes and commercial buildings across the country. Over the past few years metal panels in particular have been gaining popularity in the United States and Canada.
While traditional brick exteriors are well-regarded for their durability they offer little flexibility and room for customization. On the other hand metal can be cut into a variety of shapes, and sleek designs. Metal panels are also easily to paint, further adding to their aesthetic appeal.
Recent advancements in panel application techniques have brought rain screen wall systems into play as well; these systems are built with extra layers of waterproof sheathing and empty air space pockets between the paneling, and interior walls. This keeps moisture away from the internal structure, allowing buildings to dry quickly and remain relatively unaffected even during heavy downpours.
Currently exterior metal panel cladding comes in a range of materials, including zinc, copper, aluminum and galvanized steel. Deciding which option to go for in your own home or commercial project depends largely on the price of each choice. Here’s a brief guide to determining the price of your metal cladding solution.
What Material is it Made From?
You may hear the common refrain from other homeowners that metal cladding is expensive, while these solutions can certainly represent a significant investment; individual prices vary greatly depending on the metal, and its quality.
Galvanized steel is generally the most affordable external application, while it offers an admirable lifespan of around 35 years; this material is still considered to be less durable and flexible than other forms of metal cladding.
Price: Generally under $10 per sq. ft.
Price for Steel Panels: $12-$18
Aluminum cladding lines the exteriors of over 60% of industrial and commercial building projects; the material is extremely lightweight making it easy to shape and apply. Aluminum is also immune to rusting, when exposed to air the material will form a dense oxide layer which acts a natural coating against moisture and rain. Generally aluminum panels will last you about 40 years. Aluminum cladding tends to be slightly more expensive than galvanized steel. However higher quality solutions such as factory engineered ACM panels (with an added fire resistance core), can be significantly more pricey.
Price for flat sheet aluminum cladding: Under $10 per sq. ft.
Price for ACM Panels: $15-$30
Zinc offers a fresh, unique look to any building and as such is a metal cladding material that’s slowly gaining in popularity. Similar to aluminum zinc produces an oxide layer, which protects it from corrosion and rust over time; as a result this form of cladding can last anywhere up to a 100 years. As an added bonus zinc is also 100% recyclable. Due to these properties, zinc is more expensive than aluminum and galvanized steel; although not as high in quality or price as ACM panels.
Price for flat sheet zinc: $8-$16 per sq. ft.
Price for Zinc Panels: $22-$35
Much like zinc, copper does not need to be artificially treated in order to preserve its surface from rust and corrosion. Left on its own, the metal produces a beautiful greenish patina over time which is highly coveted by designers.
Copper is considered to be virtually self-maintaining as the metal oxide layer can even cover scratches and other forms of superficial damage. However, finding an installer capable of handling the finicky material may be an issue.
Because of its aesthetic qualities copper is generally considered the most expensive metal cladding material.
Price for flat sheet copper: $10-$15
Price for Copper Panels: $25-$40