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7 Questions to Ask About Architectural Metal Cladding

7 Questions to Ask About Architectural Metal Cladding

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Who doesn’t love the sophisticated appeal of metal cladding? From atomic-age skyscrapers to contemporary galleries and music halls, it continues to set benchmarks in construction and design – and who knows where it might go in the future!
But what is architectural metal cladding and why do we need it? Put simply, it’s a shield that protects your building from the elements and provides aesthetic appeal. It’s strong, versatile and lighter than masonry or concrete, which means it can be attached it in a variety of ways. Not only that, metal cladding can be bent, stretched and twisted into patterns that can add visual appeal. Who doesn’t love a building that is both functional and attractive? As an additional benefit, great quality cladding provides a building envelope that helps your structure last decades longer than it would without it.
When choosing metal cladding for your building, there are literally thousands of options, which can make the process of choosing a bit overwhelming. How do you know which color, profile, finish, material and method of attachment are right for you? To make this process easier, here are seven questions you need to ask before making a decision.
How Strong Is It?
Not all metals are created equal. Some can withstand hale damage and hammers, while others scratch or dent easily. Consider the location and lifespan of your building. If you let us know about the durability requirements of the cladding, we can steer you in the right direction.
What’s the Level of Fire Resistance?
While metals tend to be fire resistant, it’s a good idea to understand what’s inside the cladding as a filler. Check the fire-resistance rating of the product you’re interested in. Remember the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017? Don’t let this happen to you. Liaise with your architects, contractors and manufacturers to make sure you choose the right rating for your building. It’ll help you save money and heartache down the track!
Does It Have Thermal Insulation?
The Metal used for cladding provides minimal thermal insulation, which means you may need to attach a sheathing board to the infill walls. This will give you weather and thermal resistance. The thermal transmittance of a building envelope, also known as the U-value, is the rate at which heat transfers through a structure. Each building has a minimum U-value, so make sure you speak to your cladding manufacturer to meet these requirements.
Does It Have Acoustic Insulation?
Unfortunately, metal cladding doesn’t provide sound insulation between inside and outside environments. This needs to be installed separately if required. Your manufacturer or supplier should give you a whole-of-wall rating that includes the Rw rating (weighted sound reduction index) or STC (sound transmission class) that will help you choose the right product for your infill walls.
Is It Wind Resistant?
The location and exposure of your building is critical when determining the wind resistance of your cladding. Most systems can withstand wind action and transfer it to the main structure. If you consult the ASCE 7-10: Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures manual, you’ll find exactly what wind actions need to be factored into the design of your cladding.
How Much Does It Expand and Contract?
There are lots of things that can affect the expansion and contraction of metals, like changes in humidity and temperature – even colour. Choosing the wrong material (or color) for your climate can lead to costly damage. Check environmental fluctuations and the stability of your metal cladding before you make a purchase.
What Environmental Impact Might It Have?
If you’re concerned about the health of the planet – and many of us are – this is an important question. What long-term environmental impact will your building have? In other words, how will the manufacturing, installation and maintenance of your cladding affect greenhouse emissions and energy consumption? You can get a life cycle assessment to measure these factors and find the most sustainable cladding system for your structure.
While there’s been many cheap and inferior cladding options being supplied by international manufacturers, we trust these questions help you consider the importance of your decisions when it comes to cladding. As you can see, with careful planning and preparation you can choose the right metal cladding for your building – and enjoy its beauty and longevity for decades it to come.
 
 

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