1. Involve the fabricator early in the design process.
Sometimes the manufacturer has to provide a reality check for the designer. “Every product has its limitations,” says Paul Collyer, technical services director for Kingspan. He notes, for example, that IMPs are not well suited to compound bends or creating cylindrical-shaped features. According to Jeff L. Henry, CEO of CEI Composite Materials, Manchester, Mich., composite panels are well suited to provide those kinds of profiles. In sum, check with your manufacturer to make sure you’re using the right metal panel system for the task at hand.
2. Address fire codes early.
“Make sure fire code compliance issues are listed in the specs,” says Tom Seitz, director of sales and marketing, 3A Composites USA, Mooresville, N.C. For example, polyethylene-based cores may be prohibited above a certain height. Make sure that bidding fabricators are aware of such restrictions.
3. Ensure that both the panel and window manufacturers review bid documents.
“You have to make sure that the window design is compatible with the panel system design,” Seitz says. “Window frame openings have to be properly detailed and properly flashed.” This is also a key issue at any intersection of metal cladding panels and other materials, such as stucco, stone, or wood.
4. Be careful when you mix panel systems in a single project.
Increasingly, designers are mixing single-skin, MCMs, and IMPs in the same project to achieve interesting architectural effects. However, “Designers must be aware of the product limitations and substrate requirements for each system as well as how to integrate other building characteristics such as windows into each cladding component,” warns Jim Bush, VP of sales and marketing with ATAS International, Allentown, Pa.
5. Check your flashing if you go horizontal.
Façade designers are using horizontal single-skin wall panels more and more, says Bush, who warns that horizontal panels may require different flashing techniques than are commonly used with vertically applied panels. As always, check with the manufacturer.
6. Pre-qualify installation contractors.
Consider only subcontractors that have been trained and certified by the manufacturer to install the product. “The problems we have are few and far between on projects with certified, trained subcontractors,” says Collyer. And, of course, check references.
7. Always conduct site inspections.
Every installation should be inspected to ensure proper workmanship. There are also occasions when another system impacts panel installation. “I’ve seen instances where steel alignment is so poor that the joint tolerances were affected and additional sealant had to be added,” says Seitz.
8. Consider new green options.
“Integrating photovoltaic cells into the wall panels is a growing trend,” says ATAS’s Bush. “The cladding is also being used as a solar collector, as with transpired solar collectors.”