Metal wall panels are among the most widely used products in the metal construction and architecture industry. A 2008 survey by RSMeans, Kingston, Mass., shows the cost of metal siding panels is rising more slowly than the cost of most competitive siding materials. The cost of metal increased about 3 percent during the study’s timeframe while the cost of exterior insulation and finish systems, stucco and tilt-up concrete increased 4.6, 5 and 10 percent, respectively. The installed cost of metal siding panels in 2008 averaged $7.66 per square foot, including all accessories and insulation. The average installed cost of competitive materials is at least 60 percent higher; single-wythe brick walls are nearly three times as expensive as metal panels.
There are three primary varieties of wall panels: insulated metal panels (IMPs), preformed panels and metal composite materials (MCM) panels. With IMPs, the foamed-in-place core fuses to the metal skins, expands to completely fill the interior cavity, then solidifies to create a solid, monolithic panel. At the end of this process, there are no gaps or voids and insulating values from R-14 to R-30 can be achieved depending upon the insulating core used and its thickness. Preformed metal wall panels are manufactured from a variety of metals, including steel, aluminum, copper and zinc, with steel being the most commonly used. A highly durable paint or coating is applied to steel panels to protect them from the elements. The smooth, sleek metal composite material can be bent, curved and joined together in an almost limitless range of geometric configurations. In addition, the panels exude a lustrous visual aesthetic when they are initially installed and continue to do so for years to come with minimal maintenance. There is no oil canning or wrinkling because the skins are bonded to the core under tension, which produces a balanced panel.