Metal Cladding has shown its capabilities in the building industry for a long time and hugged the twists and turns of architects for decades. Designers and architects are embracing metal cladding products for their formal flexibility and various finishes. Their popularity is essentially down to their extreme versatility, both off-the-shelf and avant-garde. However, these product’s noticeable strength makes it challenging for architects and designers to specify them for a construction envelope. The number of different finishes, methods of installation and attachments, forms, and fabrication systems can seem endless. They are also various models and designs for available metal cladding, including aluminum composite panels known as ACM panel or ACP, aluminum sidings, stainless steel cladding, etc. This allows architects to create endless looks and modern appearance for new era buildings. This article will introduce the factors and reasons behind the fact that architects prefer to use metal claddings in their design rather than other materials.
Metal Cladding Systems
Metal materials are often suitable for non-structural rain screen cladding systems, where the priority is protecting the facility from the elements and a striking external finish. Thanks to the bendable, cuttable, and fabricable nature of ACM panels and other metal claddings, these products can be installed and connected, and then attached to the building’s structure in a wide variety of methods. Each method offers different benefits in terms of development complexity and aesthetic finish. Some of the most utilized systems from an architect’s perspective are as follows:
- Standing Seam System: One of the most famous systems in the architecture world is the standing seam cladding characterized by robust folded connections between each of its panels. It features concealed fixing details that will allow architects to design sleek exteriors and popular choice among typologies. Standing seam system can be utilized with various types of substances, including galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, aluminum composite materials (ACM), zinc and Corten steel.
- Snap lock: This system is a simpler alternative to the standing seam system that displays a similar ribbed profile while not requiring specialist closing tools and equipment for installation. snap lock panels design is uniquely done to snap them together with low-fuss installation.
- Aluminum Composite Panel: Another cladding system that has been very popular for modern designers and architects is the aluminum composite panel system known as ACP or ACM panels. This material is made from only aluminum which consists of two metal sheets attached to a core substance. They provide a wide range of benefits in the architectural field due to their unique characteristics.
- Interlocking: This system offers up a smoother and dramatic appearance with the express joint. Interlocking metal cladding materials vary in width and can be installed horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally.
- Shingle and Flatlock: Shingle and flatlock panels lock together to develop a flexible, flush, and thin facade. This system has the flexibility to be installed in reverse to create deeper express lines called the reverse flatlock system. Shingle metal facades are created with folding panels into interconnecting tile shapes for a striking variation on the flatlock cladding system.
- Cassette Panels: This system is ideal for large cladding areas. The open-joint cassette panel system is suitable to be used with large panels in length. The cassettes are bent by bending machines and fixed with invisible clips, generally to an aluminum framework. The manufacturing process of these panels creates a contemporary and flat appearance cladding materials that can satisfy current architectural needs for commercial and residential construction or renovation projects.
- Custom Metal Cladding System: Manufacturers can produce custom metal cladding systems for architects and designers if they do not find a suitable method for their current project. Factories develop unique materials by altering an existing system or creating something thoroughly new. However, designers and architects should consider the project budget since customizing metal cladding systems will substantially increase the price and cost.
Finishes Available for Cladding Systems
As important as selecting the metal cladding system, finishes will significantly affect both performance and aesthetics of the cladding system that architects choose for the project. There are virtually unlimited finishes available for metal facade panels such as ACM panels. Architects enquire with the cladding manufacturer to find the perfect finish for their application.
- Sandblasted: This is ideal for architects who use smooth, matte surfaces and virtually free from texture finish. However, sandblasted panels need an extra coating for being protected from rusting.
- Brushed: Dull-polished or brushed finish for metals displays a unidirectional satin appearance with a subtle grain that varies in severity depending on the level of abrasive action during the production process.
- Mirror: The most reflective of all finishes, which is very common in aluminum sidings. This finish offers a striking aesthetic and will require precise maintenance to have its glossiness.
- Engine Turned: This finish features a geometric pattern inscribed into the material to offer a swirled look with reflective qualities.
- Powder Coated: For providing the metal with a protective layer and uniform matte aesthetics, manufacturers use powder coating finish in an unlimited choice of color.
Ensure to read part 2 of the article to understand better why architects utilize metal cladding systems for their designs.