Metal Matters: Is Sheet Metal Expensive?

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Let’s face it: metal is beautiful. Not only is it one of the most functional materials on the planet, but it has a gorgeous appearance across the board. No wonder we rely on metal for everything from jewelry to home appliances and even transportation.

Sheet metal is no exception. It is extremely malleable yet strong. People from all trades work with sheet metal to provide beautiful and durable products.

If you’re interested in working with sheet metal, you must be wondering how much it will cost to supply and work with it. In this guide, we’ll explore all different types of sheet metal, their uses, and how you can calculate the expense of your sheet metal project.

Sheet Metal Uses

If you’re searching for “sheet metal near me,” it’s likely you’re looking to install sheet metal in your home or commercial property. Sheet metal’s most popular use is as a building material, and you may have been inspired by many popular homes that flaunt sheet metal as part of their modern architectural style.

Sheet metal is great for outside and inside the building to create a modern look, but you can do almost anything you can imagine with it because it is so versatile.

For example, one of the most popular ways to use sheet metal as a building material is to use it as metal roofing sheets. These roofs don’t just come in shiny silver, but all different colors, textures, and styles. Because sheet metal is durable, it is a trusty material for protecting your building from the elements.

Sheet metal is also great for siding and interior walls. It’s popularly used as more decorative additions to your home like cornices, soffits, fascia, shutters, and more. It’s also a great material for more functional aspects of your home, like gutters.

Some creative people can even create furniture and fixtures in their homes or buildings using sheet metal.

If you like a completely modern style or even the fusion of an industrial and rustic look, sheet metal is your choice material.

Why Should I Choose Sheet Metal?

For almost any project, sheet metal should be a top contender for material choice. Why? Because unlike other types of metal, it scores top ratings for cost-effectiveness, ease of use, range of style, and more.

If you’re looking to start a project on your home or commercial property, here’s what makes sheet metal perfect for you.

Durable

Sheet metal is such a reliable protective material that even astronauts rely on it to make up the exterior of their NASA spaceships. When sheet metal is treated as an exterior material for your building, it is corrosion-resistant and UV resistant. Depending on the type of sheet metal you choose, your sheets can be very durable.

Because durability will depend on the type of sheet metal, you’ll want to consider this concerning exactly what project you’re doing.

Cost-Effective

Sheet metal is certainly much more cost-effective than other materials. This is because you can cut sheet metal to your exact specifications by a company like Prototech Asia, so you’ll never end up with leftover material or pay for more than what you need. Processing and material costs are also much more affordable, and the tools and molds needed to make and install it are less expensive.

Because sheet metal is also thin and stackable, it’s easy to transport large amounts for less money.

Easy to Cut

Sheet metal is thin and malleable, which means you can achieve almost anything with it. Whether you choose to cut on your own or hire a company, sheet metal can be cut into any shape and size you need. This makes it a great material for almost any project, big or small.

Fully Customizable

Sheet metal is extremely versatile, which means you can achieve almost any look you can think of. Sheet metal can come in so many colors, finishes, and patterns. You can apply many different techniques like stamping to add texture as well.

Not only can you achieve different flat shapes, but bend the sheets to achieve many 3D effects.

Types of Sheet Metal

When starting your project, you’ll want to make sure you have the right type of sheet metal to achieve your vision. Different types of sheet metal come at different costs, durability, ease of use, and looks. Learning about each one will help you determine if your sheet metal project will be expensive.

Aluminum Sheet Metal

Aluminum sheet metal is most commonly used for smaller interior projects rather than vast exterior coverings, but there are exceptions. You should consider aluminum if your project is similar to:

  • Lighting
  • Electrical products
  • Window framing

Aluminum is great for conducting electricity, and it is corrosion-resistant. It is lightweight and non-toxic as well as a good heat conductor. These traits make it a great metal for kitchenware or electrical jobs.

Certain types of aluminum are better for architectural jobs like trim because they’re highly workable and can form complex shapes easily.

Aluminum is great because it is:

  • Great for a maintenance-free finish
  • Lightweight
  • Conductor for heat and electricity
  • Perfect for food exposure
  • Very workable for welding and forming
  • Noncombustible and reflective

Aluminum, however, is more expensive than steel and less strong.

Hot and Cold Galvanized Sheet Metal

Cold galvanized steel is coated with zinc to protect the metal from corrosion. It is easy to clean and low maintenance while having a long life expectancy. This material has a cost-effective and quick application process.

Cold galvanized steel is better for small parts and components, whereas hot-dipped galvanized steel is better for larger parts.

Hot-dipped galvanized steel is more demanding than cold galvanized steel, but cold galvanized steel requires an extra step of cleaning and drying before application. Hot-dipped galvanizing, however, is more durable and resistant to abrasions.

Unfortunately, the coating is what protects the steel. This means that physical damage could make the steel vulnerable to corrosion.

Common projects are:

  • Roofing
  • Frames
  • Shutters

Prices for galvanized steel have been slowly rising. In late 2020, hot-dipped galvanized steel was at $37.50 per hundredweight.

Stainless Steel Sheet Metal

Stainless steel is any sheet metal that contains 10.5% chromium or more. You can choose stainless steel in many different grades, which allows you to achieve a specific look. The most familiar look is that of your kitchen appliances.

Stainless steel sheet metal is common and offers a good amount of corrosion resistance and workability. Harder grades of stainless steel sheet metal are commonly used for the exteriors of vehicles, and certain grades are seawater resistant while others are not.

Popular projects that use stainless steel sheet metal are:

  • Doors and windows
  • Cladding
  • Roofing
  • Appliances and cookware
  • Sinks
  • Vehicles
  • Containers for hazardous materials

Stainless steel is a good choice because it has a moderate balance of strength and hardness while still being workable. It comes in many different widths and hardness levels so that you can choose according to your projects. It is great for projects where you need to weld, solder, and use rivets.

Stainless steel can be processed in many ways to achieve a beautiful finish, including brazing, buffing, and polishing. Unfortunately, it is known to show dirt and smudges and is difficult to clean.

Stainless steel is generally the most expensive material out of sheet metals.

Cold and Hot Rolled Steel Sheet Metal

Hot rolled steel is made with presses at over 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. This process makes stell that is formable and best used for large projects where tolerances aren’t important. This type of steel can be used for structures, and some grades are better for strength than others.

Hot rolled steel has great flexibility and is best with high production runs. It comes at a lower cost than cold-rolled steel. However, the surface will show more imperfections and require a finishing to prevent corrosion.

Hot rolled is also less formable than cold rolled steel and only comes in thicker widths. It is best for:

  • Vehicle frames
  • Mechanical equipment
  • Pipes and tubes
  • i-beams and metal buildings
  • Rail tracks
  • Shelving

Cold rolled steel is hot rolled steel that has gone through extra processing at room temperature. This allows the steel to have a wider range of finishing and an increase of 20% in strength. It is best for:

  • Projects that need perfect squareness and true edges
  • Projects that require smooth finishes and precise dimensions
  • Bars and rods
  • Cabinetry
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Home appliances
  • Furniture
  • Vehicle parts

Cold-rolled steel has continued to rise in price along with the increased demand. In late 2020, cold-rolled steel was selling for $36 per hundredweight.

Hot rolled steel is considered one of the most affordable sheet metal options but requires extra processing to make it durable, adding to costs.

Spring Steel Sheet Metal

If you’re looking for high yield strength steels that can snap back to their original shape after pressure, spring steel is perfect. However, not all spring steels are great for high temperatures or serious shock and impact.

Not all spring steels are suitable for welding, and you’ll need to temper them after heating to get rid of stress. This material is best for:

  • Springs
  • Spindles
  • Wires and strings
  • Antennas
  • Blades

In general, spring steel material is best for tiny, precise projects.

Copper Sheet Metal

Copper sheet metal is easily workable while cold. Over time, copper also forms an oxide layer on its surface, which acts as a protective layer and changes the look of the metal. The patina layer protects the metal from further corrosion.

Many people choose copper sheet metal for exterior layers on buildings because of the character it adds to the appearance. The patina layer changes over time, and you can see charts for how the material will look over the years.

Copper sheet metal is great for:

  • Roofing
  • Chimneys
  • Over dormers
  • Exterior accents

Copper is also a great conductor of heat and electricity, which means its often used for electrical projects. The metal also happens to be antibacterial, which means it’s great for roof projects and kitchenware.

A 12″ x 12″ copper sheet metal piece can come in around $3,000.

How Much Does Sheet Metal Cost?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to how expensive a sheet metal project will be. There are several different stages of costs, including fabrication, installation, and repairs.

A small sheet metal project can start as low as $300. However, you could end up spending up to $4,000 for more intricate or expansive projects. The type of metal, thickness, size, and finish are all factors that can make sheet metal more expensive.

On average, you could spend between $750 and $1,600 for materials and labor for sheet metal projects on your home.

Sheet Metal Repair Costs

When it comes to repairs, expenses can range widely. It will depend on where you install the sheet metal, what type of metal it is, and what kind of damage occurred.

Because sheet metal is a common material for outdoor applications, much damage is due to impact, wind, sun, and pests. Strong wind can deform and lift sheet metal shingles. Moss can corrode metal, and vermin can chew on it.

If you act right away, you can repair the damage more affordably. If you let issues go on for too long, more damage can occur and cause more expenses.

Sometimes, you might need repainting, which is relatively cheap. Needing to repair and replace parts, such as rivets or cracks, can cost more.

Start Your Sheet Metal Project

Now that you know the expenses incurred from sheet metal fabrication, installation, and repair, you can move forward in confidence with your sheet metal project. Sheet metal will be the perfect addition to your home or commercial property.

To get more ideas and advice about incorporating sheet metal and other materials in your projects, browse our blog!