Aluminum Siding or ACM panels for Building Facade

alumtech bond acm panels or aluminum siding

Construction material suppliers and manufacturers are developing various types of products and materials for the current building industry. The building facade, a cladding system, is the crucial element of any residential or commercial facility that exterior designers and architects focus on for creating attractive and aesthetic designs for their clients. Thus, manufacturers provide various cladding systems with unique characteristics. Due to the importance of energy in the current era, metal wall cladding systems have become the most famous building facade materials in the market. Metal wall claddings come with various materials, including steel, copper, CORTEN, aluminum, etc. However, aluminum metal wall claddings are the dominant products in this industry, including aluminum plate systems, ACM panels or aluminum composite panels, and aluminum siding. However, most people will be confused when choosing Aluminum siding or ACM panels.

Moreover, manufacturers create walling systems with aluminum in two main categories: aluminum siding and aluminum composite panels. It is essential to mention that some other products such as aluminum longboard sidings and aluminum wood sidings are practical and are combined with traditional materials for people who prefer classic looks for their buildings. This article will help you choose between aluminum sidings or ACM panels for your next project.

What is Aluminum Composite Panel (ACP or ACM panel)?

The first Aluminum Composite Panels or ACM panels were produced and invented in the 1960s by various companies. ACM panel cladding systems consist of two exterior layers of aluminum sheets and one core substance. The traditional aluminum composite panels did not have fire-resistant characteristics due to the highly flammable polyethylene core. However, after the growth of technology, ACM panels manufacturers managed to use FR (fire-retardant) core for their new materials, making them fire safety construction materials.

There are generally three types of facilities in the building industry: type A that features more than four floors, type B has three floors, and type C consists of less than two levels. ACM panels are practical for all types, but they are most efficient for classes B and C. Aluminum composite panels (ACM panels) are available in various colors and sizes. The standard dimensions of ACM panels in Canada are 3mm, 4mm, and 6mm.

Pros of ACM panels

  • The primary material of ACP cladding systems is aluminum, meaning they can be fabricated into any desired shape due to the material’s flexibility.
  • In addition to the flexibility ad lightweight characteristics of ACM panels, they are durable and rigid cladding systems. Thus, they can last for decades without having any damages.
  • Aluminum composite panels feature an easy installation process as they are lightweight and have a defined workflow.
  • Most people choose their construction materials from the prices that are available. Thus, Aluminum composite panels cost can benefit builders.
  • Composite panels are versatile as they feature different colors and finishes.
  • They are UV and chemical-resistant.
  • Modern aluminum composite panels are perfect sound insulation solutions,
  • ACP panels are 85% recyclable, making them environmentally friendly materials.

ACP Cladding Materials Cons

  • In extremely harsh weather conditions, ACP materials are susceptive to dent.
  • While installing ACM panels, the contractor and the builders should seal the cladding boards properly and make them waterproof.

What is Aluminum Siding?

Aluminum siding cladding is a construction material that has been used for cladding systems for decades. These functional materials are the perfect choice for locations that have mid to low temperatures, such as Canada. The primary material in aluminum siding claddings has remained the same from their first day of production. However, construction material suppliers started using various cutting and new fabrication machines for cutting, shaping, bending, and installing. These sheet metals are developed through a process that has less impact on the environment than other traditional cladding systems. Manufacturers roll pure aluminum with special devices and store them or send them to the construction site. To have a vision about how long these materials can last, you can easily find that the existing buildings in Canada have had their siding applied since the 1970s.

Pros of Aluminum Siding Materials

  • Aluminum siding materials are cost-effective materials and are highly affordable.
  • These construction materials are 100% recyclable, and they will not end up in a landfill.
  • Metal wall claddings with aluminum are energy efficient and great insulators during cold and hot seasons.
  • They are considered low maintenance materials, and unlike other materials, they do not require regular cleaning.
  • Aluminum siding panels are durable and can last for a long time.

Aluminum Siding Cons

  • Aluminum contracts and expands due to temperature change which can cause popping noises can be annoying for occupants.
  • As aluminum is a soft metal, sidings made from this substance are susceptible to dents and scratches.
  • These aluminum cladding systems consist of painting coats worn out after years of rainwater and sunlight exposure.
  • Current architects prefer ACM panels to aluminum sidings because traditional sidings are out of style, and creating contemporary designs will be hard.

What are Nano Aluminum Composite Panels?

Nano aluminum composite panels

Nano aluminum composite panels (ACM panels) are among the newest building materials available in the market, with various advantages. Currently, nanotechnology is creating an industrial revolution noticeable in all aspects of the modern life system. Manufacturers started applying this technology to aluminum composite panels and other construction materials to solve their drawbacks and grow their usage in current architectural projects. The nano-aluminum composite panel features all the previous advantages of the ACM panel, such as anti-scaling, durability, functionality, anti-corrosion, etc.

Nano Aluminum Composite Panels Applications

The traditional aluminum composite panels (ACM panels) are still one of the materials that are commonly used for various structures, products, and building claddings. The construction industry highly welcomes materials such as ACP materials due to their flexibility, versatility, lightweight, and other beneficial characteristics. However, constructions with aluminum composite panel cladding systems face numerous limitations and sensitivities. Cleaning and maintaining the building’s facade is an essential task for both low-rise and high-rise facilities. Thus, the building facade and its clean appearance involve maintenance and the facility’s value as a whole. Moreover, this becomes more crucial for larger and polluted cities.

Nano ACM panels have come to solve the cleaning and maintaining problem. The technology allows cladding systems to clean the aluminum surfaces of the facade on their own without requiring any particular chemical or unique methods.

How Nanotech Works in ACM Cladding Systems

The water droplets on the plant leaves or the ones on a greasy surface are generally spherical, and they are always separated from the surface. This natural event means that the surface is probably dry, and water molecules are attached to form the spheres. This happens due to the physical properties of any substance. Thus, science has divided surfaces into two general classifications, which are hydrophobic and hydrophilic.

The hydrophilicity of a substance’s surface means that the molecules of a particular amount of water tend to depress the area. Thus, water molecules form a narrow-angle or say the droplets’ height is low. In contrast with hydrophilicity, water particles on a hydrophobic surface tend to bond to each other rather than the material. In this case, droplets form a prominent sphere with a broader angle, and the height of the particular amount of water is higher. Additionally, hydrophilic surfaces feature high energy, and in contrast, hydrophobic substances have low energy surfaces. However, with the knowledge of nanotechnology, the physical properties of any surface can be transformed into a selective character. Thus, with the growth of technology, it is possible to create hydrophilic surfaces and change their properties.

Textured surfaces made in another nanoscale feature a greater distance between the air and molecules. This can cause hydrophilicity decrement on the surface, and water droplets will stick to more together than the desired surface. The same can happen with nano aluminum composite panels as water drops do not spread on the surface of the ACM panel and stick to each other. As water drops move on the cladding system, they will absorb the dust or strain and pass through the building facade. Thus, the nano aluminum composite panel’s surface gets cleaned thoroughly without extra cleaning chemicals applied. Additionally, the nano-coating existing on these cladding systems makes it difficult for the dirt and dust to adhere to the ACP surface, resulting in solid stains on the building facade execution.

It is essential to mention that Aluminum composite panels are low maintenance materials naturally, and even with nanotechnology, it is possible to clean them with detergents and cleaning tools. Aluminum sidings and ACM panels cladding systems do not require special equipment for cleaning. The crucial thing about nano cladding materials is that it makes the cleaning process much easier for high-rise buildings.

Advantages of Nano Aluminum Composite Panels

As nano aluminum composite panels have auto cleaning, they bring essential benefits for the building’s owner, which are as followed:

  • Homeowners can save money and energy by using nan ACM panels.
  • The building’s facade will last longer than other cladding materials.
  • The construction and its facade maintain its appearance, resulting in preserving the building’s value, prestige, and overall status.

Like any other composite material, Nano ACM panels consist of various layers, including the core or central layer, the front, rear cladding sections, and finally, the coating surfaces. The modern tech coating is applied to the last layer of the products. The final layer serves the cladding systems as a protector against different elements, including:

  • Urban pollution
  • Oil
  • Wearing over time
  • Sun rays
  • Harsh weather conditions
  • Acid rains
  • Alkaline substances

Why ACM panels are more expensive than other Cladding Materials?

ACM panels

Exterior cladding systems for new construction and renovation projects have become a must-have architectural element for commercial or residential facilities. In contrast with traditional methods of simply painting structures, contractors and homeowners prefer to add functionality and support to their building’s facade using various cladding materials, including ACM panels, wood sidings, longboard sidings, etc. For homeowners on their first renovation or new building project, choosing the most efficient cladding system from the array of materials and styles that the market offers can be a daunting statement. If the project requires modernity and flexibility of exterior cladding, it will be challenging to choose between wood, vinyl, ceramics, and aluminum composite panels. The first thing that most people consider when selecting their exterior paneling system is the price. While building materials such as wood and brick tend to come in at about 3$-14$ per square foot, with high-end wood cladding, which is the most expensive system currently, ACM panels often cost anywhere around 15$-35$ per square foot. However, there are several reasons behind the relatively expensive cost of aluminum composite panels.

Advantages of ACM Panels that Make Them More Expensive Than Other Systems

Aluminum composite panels (ACM panels), also known as ACP materials, are created by bonding and securing two aluminum sheets to unique core material. These panels are designed and engineered to provide long-lasting durability for homeowners who want to invest their money in the new construction or renovation of buildings. Using ACM panels offers numerous benefits when used as a facility’s cladding material, making them relatively expensive than other cladding systems. These practical advantages are as followed:

ACM Panels Provide the Best Durability Among Cladding Systems

The production process of ACM panels for providing cladding systems is the key to their popularity. Two sheet metals adhere to a thermally resistant polyethylene core which often features thin characteristics. The resulting aluminum composite panels are lightweight, and molding or fabricating them into different demanding shapes and styles is relatively straightforward. These particular rain-screen systems consist of additional coating that enhances their waterproof property and protects them against dents due to high-impact weather conditions. Metal panel cladding products are all factory-tested for their ability to withstand various damaging external factors. All ACM panels that are adequately produced offer:

  • High wind loads resistance
  • Structural supports during precarious conditions
  • Presumption deflection
  • Air infiltration and leakage protection
  • fireproof characteristics (safety regulations require fire-resistant features for exterior cladding systems)
  • Moisture and humidity resistance (for buildings in locations with high humidity levels)

These characteristics of ACP materials make them unbreakable and impervious to tear or wear from the worst of weather conditions during the year.

The versatility of Aluminum Composite Panels

Other cladding materials such as wood, vinyl, and stone can provide unique visual aesthetics and appeal for architects. However, these cladding systems have a limited range of styles, making them challenging for creating a new and modern appearance for the building. For instance, the stone is often preferred for its rustic, rough appearance and cannot accept other paints or finishes, resulting in the color choice reduction for customers. Moreover, molding and fabricating stone and wood can be challenging due to the current designs featuring curves and modern looks.

In contrast with traditional materials, ACM panels are incredibly flexible and lightweight, making them the perfect materials for fabricating in different designs. Additionally, the light characteristic of ACP materials allows builders to install them more straightforwardly. Manufacturers can shape aluminum composite panels into circles and curves as well as more traditional rectangles or squares. Another essential factor making these cladding systems more versatile than other paneling materials is that choosing any color during the mixing and finishing stage is possible, allowing architects to select from any color under the sun to suit the aesthetic requirements for their customers.

ACM Panels Require Low Maintenance During Their Lifespan

Wood siding cladding systems that are entirely made from natural wood require regular maintenance. While the natural appearance is more appealing to some people, using non-composite cladding materials requires consistent painting, oiling, and finishing. Water infiltration and pests can easily cause several damages to these products, including splitting, erode, and cracks.

On the other hand, ACM panels don’t require regular maintenance, primarily when the building is located in temperate areas. Cleaning aluminum composite panels usually require a simple wash and buff for removing any visible stains. With the highly reflective nature of aluminum surfaces, ACP materials are incredibly resistant to tear and wear from UV rays existing in sunlight, allowing them to maintain their finish and appearance for even decades.

Rainscreen Construction Principle (Part II)

Rainscreen Construction Principle

Rainscreen Construction Principle basic idea is to have an exterior surface or cladding layer that can break the force of sideways, wind load, water movement, resulting in preventing water penetration into the building’s structure. For most of the buildings, from modern to traditional ones, water is the biggest enemy. However, producing a complete watertight cladding system is challenging. Thus, manufacturers started working on the rainscreen construction principle decades ago to provide better protection for the constructions in the city. Rainscreen comes in different styles and types. One of the most popular types is the ACM panels or ACP materials used widely in the modern era. These particular products offer numerous advantages along with their waterproof characteristics.

In the rainscreen construction principle part 1, we discussed the basics of these practical systems and their structure that engineers designed for better watertight characteristics. This article covers essential information about this principle that anyone in the building industry must know.

Rainscreen Construction Principle Types

The rain screen construction principle is based upon two distinct and separate barriers on the building’s cladding. The outer barrier controls most rainwater while the inner leaf performs multiple functions, including moisture and air barrier, insulation, and the structural wall. The outer section allows the water to penetrate through open joinery, and the volume of the penetration depends on the design principle. This is where two distinct types of products come into the picture: the Drained/Back-ventilated and Pressure-equalized/Compartmented systems.

Both rainscreen systems are available in ACM panels cladding materials and different siding for the facade. They use the principle of controlling water leakage without stopping it from penetrating through the exposed outer surface completely. However, the internal design of both systems functions differently based upon the approach. Moreover, the Rainscreen construction principle has been generalized and consolidated into one unified product in specifications combined with both types’ characteristics. For complicating and confusing matters, the water, and air resistance standards from the traditional building cladding systems are applied to these modern designs and specifications of the exterior material’s exposure. Placing the water and air tightness codes on the outer surface of the barrier contradicts the underlying fundamentals of the Rainscreen Construction Principle. Now let’s get to the fundamental of each system.

Pressure-Equalized/ Compartmented Rainscreen

In this article, we focus on the Pressure-equalized rainscreen principle, which is very design intensive. Please read the third part of this article to learn about Drained/Back-ventilated systems for ACM panels.

Pressure-equalized systems are susceptible to design variations and deviations from their design principle. The openings in this system are created uniquely for both static and dynamic pressure equalization allowance across the rainscreen. The essential factor that separates this system from the D/BV principle is the design and the use of the compartmented method within the cavity. The reason behind the compartment is that the pressure equalization can only happen within limited periods and in the case of controlled volume behind the Rainscreen system. This equalization is essential due to the none-uniformity of wind loads, constantly changing across a single cladding of a building.

The vent numbers and their geometry calculation depend on the cavity volume, allowing sufficient airflow in and out of the internal equalized area quickly enough to respond to the ever-changing wind loads. This promotes the pressure differences between the ACM panels or other types of panels used in the system and the internal compartment pressure resulting in equalizing the air pressure on the external cladding and the inner sides of the building facade. If the conditions exist properly, forces causing water movement will decrease; if not, they will be eliminated.

The effective area of the vent holes in this type of rainscreen construction principle depends on three factors which are:

  • The airtightness of the air barrier on the inner section
  • The stiffness of the cladding material and its inner leaf
  • The volume of the compartments that make up the internal air space

The compartments are the essential elements of a proper pressure-equalized rain screen principle. They come with crucial properties, characteristics, and functionalities. Followings are the reasons why these elements play an indispensable role in the PE systems:

  • They control lateral and vertical airflow.
  • They size the volume of the space that the vent openings must be designed for facilitation.
  • The most crucial role of compartments is limiting water infiltration and controlling the water drainage when air-pressure disequilibrium occurs.

The characteristics above show that rainscreens with non-compartmentalized cavities cannot be pressure equalized. However, many of this system’s construction factors and elements are almost similar to the drained/back-ventilated rain screen construction principle. Still, they have several significant and essential differences, which we have discussed in the third part of this article.

How to Make Aluminum Composite Panel?

Aluminum Composite Panel

Aluminum Composite Panels, which are also called ACP materials, are popular construction products that are widely used in modern building architecture. These panels are not just a reverberation for interior or exterior designers and architects but also are beneficial for the environment. They are considered new sustainable materials known as sandwich sheets and brought new fields to the architecture. This means the composite panels do not just increase the durability of modern buildings but also contribute making the whole world sustainable and cleaner. Thus, using them has been expanded in the last few years to cover up energy efficiency and low price possibilities. Additionally, they are specially created for the ventilated facades rehabilitation and renovation.

Obtaining Aluminum from Nature

Aluminum is one of the most common elements found in the mother earth’s crust. However, the pure material that is used for developing different industrial products such as ACP does not occur naturally. Thus, there is a standard process defined for obtaining the usable material. This process is broken down into three main stages, which are extracting bauxite, turning them into alumina, and then producing pure material using electrolytic reduction. Bauxite, which is found naturally on the surface of the ground, contain aluminum in their structure and is made up of aluminum oxide mixed with other elements and minerals. Experts extract this material by using open-pit mines. For turning the material into alumina, a common process, which is called Bayer, is utilized. The produced alumina has an unlimited shelf life.

However, it should be stored under precise conditions due to its property of absorbing moisture. After this process, for creating the pure material, another component is required for creating the best environment for electrolysis, which is called Cryolite. In modern manufacturing systems, it is made by mixing up aluminum hydroxide, soda, and hydrofluoric acid. The last stage of producing pure aluminum is the electrolytic reduction, which requires an area for smelting the material. This area consists of many large rectangular constructions, which have a length that exceeds one kilometer. Inside these buildings, there are hundreds of pots or cells arranged in rows, which are connected to power sources through massive cables. In each of these cells, pure aluminum is being developed from alumina. The material is extracted from the cell by using a special vacuuming bucket for two to four times per day. A hole needs to be created in the cryolite and then the liquid aluminum is sucked into the bucket through a pipe connection.

Production of Aluminum Composite Panels

Aluminum composite panels can be produced in different methods and ways. The production procedure can be divided into two methods of cold composite and thermal composite. These two can additionally be classified with continuous and intermittent methods. ACM is generally manufactured by joining thin aluminum skins to both sides of a lightweight core, which is typically thermoplastic.

The production process of aluminum composite panels starts with cleaning the coil material. This material, during its creation, due to the needs of the process, is coated with anti-oxides and lubricants, thus a speck of considerable dirt and dust will be attached to the material during transportation. This can affect its adhesion thus precise cleaning is required. After coil cleaning and chemical treatments, a dense protective film starts to form on the surface of the material. This coat can improve the oxidation resistance of the panels and will increase the lifetime of the paint finish.

The produced panels of exterior composite sheets are coated with two layers of primer and paint. The top layer of the cladding materials is an extreme weather-resistant fluorocarbon, which has, resin substance and called polyvinylidene fluoride. This coat keeps the surface of the product protected due to its ideal UV resistance and environmental pollution characteristics. In addition, the surface can have beautiful marble color and pattern, which makes it perfect for creating modern architectural designs. The fluorocarbon substances are usually applied to the coils by roll process and then baked at lofty temperatures for drying. The last layer of coating is a varnish surface and this creates a total thickness of 30 micrometers. Each of these layers must be baked and dried at 200 degrees of Celsius for almost 60 seconds. After the drying process, the heating oven must be cooled by an air cooler. The interior wall paint is generally made of polyester, epoxy resin, or acrylic. It is important to have precision during installation and transportation for preventing any further damages on the product such as surface scratches.

The protective film, which is a self-adhesive material, needs to be removed after the installation procedure. Then, the aluminum coil, which is coated with fluorocarbon resin, can be compounded with the core material. This material is also a three-layered substance that contains adhesive on both sides and PE plastic in the middle section. In the case of Alpolic materials, the core portion can be either a proprietary mineral-filled, fire-resistant, or polyethylene material. In both cases, the standard layers will be produced in 0.5mm thickness. Some Heavy-duty skins that have 0.8 thicknesses are also available on the market. The completed ACP material is available in 3mm, 4mm, and 6mm thickness that the last one is the most used thickness for the building industry. However, there are some custom sizes available for special demands.