Exterior cladding is becoming a must-have architectural element for any commercial or residential property. Rather than simply painting structures, homeowners and contractors are choosing to add support and functionality to their building exteriors, with these varied applications.
For those of you working on your first renovation, or new building project; sorting through the array of materials and styles on offer can be a daunting proposition. If you’ve opted for the flexibility and modernity of exterior paneling, then you’re faced with a difficult choice between wood, vinyl, ceramics and metal composite panels (ACM).
When deciding on one of these systems you’ll most definitely start by comparing prices. While options such as wood, vinyl and brick all tend to come in at a cost of around $3-$14 per square foot, with high-end wood paneling being the most expensive by far; ACM panels can cost anywhere from $15-$35 per square foot.
If you’re scratching your head, and wondering whether that extra expense is worth it; here’s your answer.
ACM Panels Provide Best-in-Class Durability
Key to the popularity of ACM paneling is the production process used to create these exterior materials. Two sheets of metal are adhered to a thin thermally resistant polyutherane core. The resulting panel is lightweight and very easy to mold into a variety of shapes, and styles. Additional screens are added to the paneling to further waterproof the material, and protect it against dents from high impact weather.
Metal panel systems are factory tested for their ability to withstand a variety of external factors, all ACM panels must offer:
• Resistance to high winds
• Structural support during seismic conditions
• Deflection of precipitation
• Protection against air infiltration and leakage
• Resistance to fire. (ACM with a fire resistant polyethylene core)
• Some level of resistance to moisture and seepage
This adherence to a strict set of criteria makes ACM panels the safer, and more durable than almost any other exterior paneling solution. In short ACM panels are nigh on unbreakable, and impervious to wear and tear from all but the worst of weather conditions.
Wood, vinyl and stonework all provide unique visual appeal for any architect; however these forms of exterior paneling can provide a relatively limited range of styles.
With wood, you’re generally constrained by the natural appearance of materials such as timber; while this can be painted over it does detract from the natural beauty of the material. Similarly, stonework is generally preferred for its rough, rustic appearance – usually these styles of paneling are left unpainted, reducing color choice for customers. In addition stone and wood are difficult to mold and shape.
In comparison ACM panels are lightweight and extremely flexible. They can be shapes into curves and circles as well as more standard squares or rectangles. In addition, colors can be chosen during the mixing and finishing stage, allowing manufacturers to choose from pretty much any color under the sun, to suit the design requirements of customers.
Wooden paneling requires regular upkeep. While the natural look is definitely more appealing to some, using non-engineered materials requires consistent, oiling, painting and finishing. Water damage and pest infiltration can easily cause these materials to crack, split and erode.
On the other hand ACM panels require minimum maintenance, usually a simply wash and buff will remove any visible stains. Due to the highly reflective nature of the metal surfaces, these panels are extremely resistant to wear and tear from UV rays, allowing them to maintain their colour and appearance for decades.