Building cladding systems form the primary facade of construction and the first protection layer against the environmental elements and conditions. Thus, a well-resolved building facade, whether metal cladding such as aluminum composite material panels or modern aluminum sidings, should fulfill both aesthetics and climate control function. This post introduces the most relevant types of cladding materials and some design considerations and pieces of advice.
Why Using Building Cladding Systems is Important?
The primary function and purpose of building cladding materials are to provide safety and protection to the exterior wall systems to protect occupants of the facility from harsh weather conditions. These systems create a skin for the building that is attached to the main structure. Thanks to technology and new insulation methods, these building materials have become thinner and more functional.
Although building facade panels of construction do not contribute to the stability of the structure, they have to resist and transfer external loads such as snow, winds, and their weight. Given their climate control and functionality and the aesthetic essence that it has, the choice, options, implementation of building cladding systems, materials, and elements should be a collaborative effort between designers, architects, specialists, and engineers. Thus, architects should understand the basic building cladding design concept and considerations that have a role in the style to propose the best solution for various projects.
Key Terms of Claddings in Construction Industry
The following is the list of key terms and definitions every designer should know while designing a traditional or modern metal cladding:
- Building Cladding: Non-structural component attached to the frame of a facility that creates an external face.
- Layer: Each of the different building surfaces is put one after the other, necessary to assemble any chosen cladding material.
- Panel: Piece of weather-resistant substance that covers the external parts of the cladding.
- Connection/Fixing: Components that connect the different elements of the cladding to the facility’s structure.
- Backing Wall: A wall that is used to fix the claddings.
- Building Facade: The face of the facility that forms the external appearance.
- Rainscreen System: Part of the structure where the building cladding stands off from a humidity-resistant layer creating a cavity that allows evaporation, drainage, and air circulation is rainscreen.
- Opening: Any space or hole that communicates the external area of the building with the interior while providing access and natural ventilation or daylight is called the opening.
- Thermal Insulation: A particular layer is used to insulate a facility’s outside cladding, resulting in improved thermal efficiency.
Types of Building Cladding Systems
There are various building cladding materials available in the construction industry. New building materials and facades are developed since there is considerable growth in technology, giving a plethora of options that architects can choose, including:
- Aluminum Composite Panels (ACM or ACP)
- Metal Systems
- Stone Cladding
- GRP or Glass-Reinforced Polyester
- Glass-Fibre Reinforced Cement
When choosing the cladding material for an application, various factors arise budget, materiality, appearance, maintenance, and fire safety. Thus, checking the country building and fire codes for more detailed information that may apply locally.
Design Considerations and Pro Tips
There are some considerations to make when designing a cladding system for a building.
- Coordination and Detailing
- Water Drainage
- Air Tightness
- Thermal Insulation
- ETTV, Daylight, Reflectance, and Fire Code
From the beginning of the designing procedure, consultants, building material contractors, and engineers should assist the design team in offering feedbacks in all decisions regarding finishing substances, air, and water leakage, climate control, connections, and insulation. When designing the weather protection for the building facade, understanding that the joints are the essential part of the installation is highly crucial. A substantial film of rainwater will always flow down the external layers. Various joints are available to move the water through openings, such as Open joints, baffled joints, labyrinth joints, etc.
The building cladding design should be the way to resist any air leakage going either outward or inward. The benefits of airtightness include improved comfort, reduced energy loss, and improved ventilation system performance. Additionally, the design should provide continuous insulation around the facility and avoid diminished performance due to humidity. The cladding should be installed with a breather membrane in the outer face of the insulating system. It is essential to pay special attention to the R-value when choosing the insulating system. The higher R-value means, the better the heat performance and energy efficiency are.
One of the essential things in any building cladding design is to provide future access for inspection, cleaning, repair, maintenance, and replacement. Thus, having a suspended or elevated working platform in high-rise buildings is essential.