What is Corrugated Steel and Why Does It Work Well for Siding?

Published September 7, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Corrugated steel panels have been a popular roofing and siding choice for commercial and agricultural buildings for decades due to its strength and durability. Now, corrugated steel is commonly used in the residential sector as well and, in addition to roofing, it is also used as a siding option.

What is corrugated steel?

Typically, corrugated steel comes in sheet that have a "wavy" pattern, although there are several patterns to choose from - including patterns that have more linear and square-edged shapes. The idea for corrugated steel came from Henry Palmer, an engineer who worked for the London Dock Company back in the 1820s. It was quickly popularized due to its ability to be prefabricated and then quickly used to erect improvised structures by workers with minimal construction skills.

Today, corrugated steel sheets are made using a cold-form process, where sheets of metal are pressed flat and then run through a process called roll forming. During the roll forming process, the sheets are pressed using rolling dies that create the desired corrugations, the shapes of which are modified by changing the rolling dies. The finished corrugated sheets are then sheared off at a particular length.

What's so great about the corrugation process?

Steel already has a greater tensile strength than wood, but the corrugations increase that tensile strength even further, running perpendicular to the grooves. This makes it much more resistant to all kinds of impact and weight loads. In fact, corrugated sheets of metal have some of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of almost any construction material. The corrugated grooves also increase the metal sheets' water-shedding properties, making it desirable for both roof and siding applications.

Why choose corrugated metal siding?

There are several advantages to choosing corrugated metal as a siding material. These include:

    • General durability. As we mentioned above, it is one of the most durable construction products on the market. Your corrugated siding will stand up to a wide range of threats, including wind, rain, and hail. It can also withstand the impact from heavy objects that may hit your building in a high-wind, hurricane or tornado scenario. In addition to weather, steel siding is also resistant to pest and fire damage, and its protective coatings also increase its resistance to moisture penetration and rot. Because there is no organic material found in steel and metal siding products, they make it impossible for mold or mildew to take up residence.
    • Dent, warp and buckle-resistant. We want to reiterate corrugated metal siding's resistance to dents caused by hail. This trait is especially beneficial in areas of the country that are prone to violent hail storms. Your corrugated siding will not warp or buckle either. In fact, it is four-times more resistant to warping, buckling or thermal expansion than vinyl siding products are.
    • Enjoy minimal maintenance requirements. A high-quality, properly coated steel siding product requires very little maintenance. At the beginning of its multi-decade lifespan, you will only need to wash it in order to remove built up layers of dust, minerals, grime and environmental pollution. This minimizes the the residue's ability to react with the protective coatings and the metal beneath and will also keep your siding material looking its best.

      Decades down the road, you may want to re-coat the siding with a product approved by the manufacturer in order to extend the siding's lifespan even further. When maintained correctly, your one-time investment in corrugated steel siding could last for 50 years or more.
  • Affordability. Depending on the type and quality you select, corrugated metal siding typically runs somewhere between $4 and $8 per square foot. At the outset, this may seem more expensive than more traditional siding materials. However, you have to keep in mind that it's overall durability and longevity make it a much cheaper product in the long run. Over the course of the siding's lifespan, you'll save a significant amount of money in terms of maintenance, repainting and replacement costs.
  • Sustainability. Like other steel building products, corrugated sheet metals are made from both pre- and post-consumer recycled products and they can also be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Steel is an eco-friendly building choice and will give you points if your building is working towards any type of green building certification process.
  • Aesthetic versatility. There are several siding styles to choose from and the products can be painted virtually any color you want, which means you'll have the freedom to select a siding product that suits your particular architectural style, from a traditional farmhouse to a more modern city abode.

Corrugated steel siding is quickly becoming one of the most popular siding options on the market due to its general durability and easy maintenance requirements, combined with overall low-lifetime cost investment. Building with corrugated steel products yields peace of mind for decades.

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