How Much Does Metal Ductwork Cost?

As of 2023, the average air duct replacement cost is between $1,400 and $5,600.

Prices continue to rise, especially as the cost of raw materials such as steel. The material is one of the largest factors affecting the cost of installing ductwork. Here, we’ll address the question, “How much does metal ductwork cost?” and other factors that affect the cost of a metal duct air system. 

What Is the Average Cost of Metal Ductwork?

Sheet metal is one of the most common materials in residential ductwork. It is highly durable, doesn’t rot, can handle temperature changes, and lasts longer than most other materials. But it is also the most expensive duct material used in homes. On average, duct sheet metal costs between $7 and $13 per linear foot. Duct materials are usually charged by the linear foot rather than by the square foot. 

In comparison to the steel duct price, fiberglass costs from $4 to $7, foil duct runs from $2 to $5, and flexible polyester ranges from $1 to $4 per linear foot.

5 Factors Affecting Duct Material Costs

The increasing costs of production, fuel, transportation, and labor are driving material prices up. Inflation is having an impact on ductwork costs as well. Still, sheet metal is undoubtedly the most expensive yet most durable option available in the residential HVAC market.

Several factors affect air duct material costs, along with the associated installation costs. 

1. Duct Material Durability

Sheet steel is durable and can handle bumps and knocks over the years, suffering little damage. Often, any damage can be easily repaired with special metal duct tape or mastic. The durability of steel is part of what allows it to have a long service life. High-durability materials are more expensive to shape and prepare than more flexible materials. 

2. Duct Material Lifespan

Sheet metal refers to how steel is formed in manufacturing, specifically in sheets, which are then formed into the rectangular or round, pipelike shapes used for ductwork. Stainless steel means that the steel has at least 12 percent chromium, which makes steel moderately corrosion resistant.

Galvanized steel is steel that has been coated with zinc to give it a protective coating that resists rust and corrosion. A galvanized stainless steel sheet is flat, contains chromium for stain resistance, and is coated in zinc for extra stain resistance. 

The galvanization process is vital to giving the sheet metal a protective, corrosion-resistant coating, which directly contributes to the steel’s longevity. Galvanized stainless steel costs more than galvanized mild steel, though it will be high-quality steel that will better withstand moisture and corrosion. Galvanization is always recommended, though making the steel stainless is not always a necessary expense. 

Galvanized steel is the most common duct material used in residential housing. While it is the most expensive material, it is also the material that offers the most value.

If the quote for the cost of metal ductwork results in a startling total, think about its value. While most ductwork materials can last ten to 25 years, metal ducts can last a lifetime if properly installed, maintained, cleaned, and kept dry. This saves a great deal over the life of the system. 

If you had to replace your ducts, then you’ll end up having to get lots of drywall or ceiling work done, and those jobs can range into thousands of dollars during ductwork repair or replacement.

3. Insulation

In addition to paying up to $12 per linear foot of steel ductwork, you need to take into account the cost of insulating the ductwork. Insulation materials usually cost between $1 and $8 per square foot, though it varies depending on the material used. 

Depending on the size of your home, insulating existing ductwork can cost $1,000 to $3,000. If you have a larger home, the price may exceed this range. It costs more to install new ducts that are insulated than those that are non-insulated, but not as much as adding insulation later.

Luckily, insulation can pay for itself in the long run, thanks to the energy efficiency provided by protecting your ducts from leaking or gaining thermal energy.

4. Other Ductwork Materials

Many duct systems also require more than one type of material. That’s because ducts often have curves, corners, and other elements to fit them around objects and through different parts of your home. 

While you can conceivably finagle steel sheet metal to fit around weird angles and other objects, working to create heavily customized metal pieces is beyond the scope, skills, and even tools of many HVAC professionals, and the labor expenses would be tremendous. 

Luckily, there are flexible duct materials, both insulated and non-insulated, which can be used to navigate awkward locations. These other materials are essential to finishing an air duct system, though their lifespan is usually in the ten to 25-year range, rather than lifetime. 

5. Installation

In addition to paying for materials, homeowners also have to pay for installation costs. Air duct replacement is more expensive to install in older houses than in new construction, as the walls are usually already opened up, and the technician can usually easily access everything they need to. We do have some tricks for installing duct systems in older houses, as well as for replacing ducts in the attic

On average, air duct replacement costs between $25 and $55 per linear foot, including labor and materials. The range depends on whether you are replacing an existing duct system or installing a new one. If you are insulating your ducts, you need to account for that cost as well. You also need to consider the cost of the materials involved and the rates for your local HVAC labor services.

At Black Hills Home Services, we know you rely on your ductwork year-round. We install the highest-quality solutions tailored to the needs of your household. Our certified contractors in Olympia, Washington, ensure metal ductwork is adequately sized, configured, and installed so your HVAC system provides comfort and is energy efficient.

We can repair, insulate, or seal your ducts to improve energy efficiency. A 100 percent money-back guarantee backs our services, as your satisfaction is important to us.

To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call 888-619-0086.