Publications by New England Metal Roof

How to install metal wall panels

Looking around at the different houses on the street and not finding a unique, modern look that satisfies your desire for articulated lines yet is minimalistic enough not be in everyone’s eyes? Perhaps you are looking for Aluminum Standing Seam. Recently we have installed such system and this article will try to show how such a system is installed, its properties and a bit of history.

As you may know aluminum siding has been very popular about 60 years ago; however, with changing tides in the global commodity market and innovative use of cheaper PVC siding, lead to a reduction in the use of aluminum as siding. Nevertheless, it has reemerged as an element in modern and contemporary design and now provides and alternative to the standard options when desiring some thing more.

Modern Standing Seam Panel Features + tips

Length between the seams- should be adjusted so that most penetrations would fall between the seams.
Height of seam- purely aesthetic but should be at least 1” tall.
Wall anchoring- two options nail strip or clips (longer use clips short use nail strip).
Lock type- snap lock or lock in from side, contractor preference.
Paint- KYNAR 500® PVDF or HYLAR 5000® PVDF high quality raisin paint.
Gage- Thickness standard for aluminum siding and roofing is 0.032

Installing Standing Seam Siding

Project: Siding on the back portion of a town house with adjacent units on both sides.

Location: Boston, MA

Substrate: wood siding on top of boards.

Color: Silversmith and mate black window trim.

Type of panel: Nail-strip snap-lock.

Initial Inspection and material order preparation

First thing one should do when installing metal siding is to see if the deck, in our case wood planks, would hold the screws. Make sure that there is no rot or cracked boards (we were lucky as some of the siding was already removed). Second measure every distance from sides to protruding objects such as windows, pipes and outlets- try to record how big a penetration would be – to properly select the width of the panels. This step is crucial to having a clean look, flashing around objects is hard enough flashing with a seam in the middle is twice as hard.

Once all of the above is done, I used Sketchup by Google, draw a diagram and come up with a width that will make the least amount of cuts necessary to go around windows and penetrations. After the diagram is adjusted for accuracy the order is sent to the manufacturer.


Removing old siding, fixing deck and installing underlayment

The main problem here is not to damage the adjacent buildings and the newly installed door. As this was wood siding and the work area was very small we used crow bars which both less destructive and tests the strength of the boards underneath. As expected some of the boards were rotten and on top of that the blown in insulation fell out once we removed the rotten boards. After a quick run to Home Depot we got some 3/4” plywood and pink insulation, and fixed the troubled areas. When installing standing seam for either roofing or siding applications the deck should be as straight as possible and should not have any nails sticking out, if they do sooner or later the aluminum will take the form of anything that’s underneath it.

As with traditional siding choice the wood deck should be covered in underlayment/vapor barrier. Our choice is a synthetic breathable underlayment by GAF called Deck Armor, it allows moisture to escape but doesn’t allow water to penetrate thus removing any excess moisture coming from inside the house, preserving the wood for many years to come, and it also acts as a second water barrier. This treatment makes the side water tight, should be installed from bottom to top, and could be left exposed for months if the project could not be continued.

Flashing around windows and sides


Once all you see is underlayment its time to install trim and wrap windows in aluminum. There are three basic elements of flashing trim in this project.

J-Channel – a piece of metal that looks like the letter “J” in profile. This is installed on all the sides and where the top of the panel will sit.
Sill trim – a piece of metal that looks like the letter “L” with a lip facing down at an angle from the side that will be sitting on top and will hold the bottom of the panels.
Window Trim – this is made up of 4 parts and is held by small trim nails. (see picture for details)

When starting try to square the side to make sure that the panels will be straight. Start by installing sill trim on the bottom where the panels will start, then install J-channel on sides and trim windows. After that install J-channel on the sides and bottom of windows and sill trim on top.

Installing standing seam panels

The first panel is the most important one it has to be straight and square, screw in screws every 8 inches . When encountering penetrations measure the location and cut out an appropriate hole on the panel if its a window leave 1/8” between the panel and trim. Where panel meets J-channel the metal will be lose as the lock is cut. Insert a piece of aluminum to hold it steady or bend a lip in the panel where the lock was cut (about ¾ of width inside the J-channel). To avoid dents when locking the seams together use a rubber mallet or hands. To fill the gaps with the adjacent siding use commercial grade caulking.




And there you have it, installed Standing Seam panels, in my opinion it looks stunning compared to the vinyl or wood siding. Now all the owner has to do is power wash it every few years and thanks to the advanced paint coating and the properties of aluminum this will stand unchanged for the next 30-50 years.

Comments and corrections are welcome!

6 thoughts on “How to install metal wall panels

  1. Remodeling Contractors Palatine

    I think that when you are remodeling you want to be around the project as much as possible!
    If you can do a lot of it yourself that helps on quality and money.
    Usually the best job done is the one you do because you know how you want it done and you
    want it done nicely because you’ll be seeing it everyday – the contractor wont!
    Thanks for this blog it had a lot of great information!

  2. Pingback: House Siding Options – Let’s weigh the Pro’s & Cons of Exterior Siding | MBM Construction

  3. Pingback: Green Remodeling and Home Improvement at Green Solar Cafe – renewable energy and green construction

  4. Aluminum Fence

    This is wonderful, the metal wall panels are coming into style and they look beautiful. I never understood how they installed. Great article!

  5. Pingback: Roofing Jobs Picture Gallery – Flat and Metal Roofs in MA, CT and RI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *