Aluminum siding was first introduced in the 1930's. However, with the inception of WWII, the aluminum/metal manufacturing industry was taken over with the production of theatre materials and war machines. It was not until after the war in 1946 that the aluminum siding industry really took off. Prior to aluminum, wood and masonry products owned the market but both had some serious downfalls. Wood siding had to not only deal with rot and the effects of weather but also required frequent painting because of the nature of the wood and the quality of the paint. While mason products didn't require painting and didn't rot. The materials are not as easy to work with and required skilled craftsman to get the job done. Once aluminum siding was developed with similar locking flanges as used today it became the material of choice for manufacturers and installers alike for the next 35-40 years.
Aluminum siding was not only more user friendly for the install process, but because of the plethora of manufacturers in the metal industry it was a solid transition for companies formerly involved in completely different industries. Aluminum siding could be produced in bulk at a fast rate and installed just as easily. It was and is light weight relative to products such as wood and brick and provided a great alternative to the aforementioned when it came to completing projects quickly and efficiently.
While aluminum siding did have many benefits at that time, it has ultimately shown some weaknesses over the course of its life. Aluminum, being a metal, shares some common properties of most metals. Like most metals, aluminum is a conductive material and subject to all of those properties. In a housing application, that means that it gets hot during the summer and cold during the winter which is the exact opposite of what you are looking to achieve from an energy efficiency standpoint. The heat or cold from the aluminum is ultimately transferred through the wood or backing material and introduced into the living space of the home. This was not a huge issue in the 50's and 60's, but fast forward to this day and age it has become one of the biggest factors in the decision making process. Some of the other factors that have contributed to the inception of new products over aluminum siding are: Scratching, denting, site damage/waste, corroding, calcifying, chipping, heat transfer and the actual cost of aluminum which has steadily rose over the past 20 years.
As we sit now in the year 2012, Aluminum siding as a newly installed residential product is nearly obsolete. Advanced forms of aluminum are still used in other residential application. Since aluminum has no memory characteristics, it is suitable to bending (called 'braking' because it is shaped and molded on a piece of equipment known as a brake), and therefore is widely used to make permanent capping for wood trim including rake boards and fascia, windows and doors, and occasionally gable louvers. Besides trim, which is now coated with Polyvinylchloride (PVC), it is actually difficult and expensive to find a quality aluminum product. In most cases, aluminum siding is only manufactured in white and requires painting after installation. Not only this, but for repair work, aluminum is even more difficult to match. Products simply aren't the same as they used to be and that is truly a good thing. While it is sad to see a siding product like aluminum reach the end of its life. It is exciting to have newer products that are easier to install, produce less waste, are less costly, more durable, better looking and much more energy efficient.
Please continue to look through the other sections of our siding page to see some of the alternatives to aluminum siding that we here at Phoenix Home Services use in the Northern Virginia area. Some of the most popular alternatives are: Vinyl Siding, James Hardie Fiber Cement Board, Crane Board or a stone/brick veneer.