Rainscreen has come a long way since its initial Norwegian development in the early twentieth century; we can now choose between beautiful natural materials such as; timber and stone and man-made materials such as; re-constituted stone and high pressure laminate (HPL). By Steve Hough, regional sales manager, Omnis.
Along with budgets, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right rainscreen panel for your project, such as;
• Colours&textures – does it offer me the design flexibility I need to meet my aesthetic aspirations?
• Technical flexibility – does the material allow me to meet my technical design needs?
• Longevity – does it have a long life expectancy?
• Resilient–is it impact, graffiti and pollutant resistant?
• Green–does it help me achieve my green ratings?
• Building regulations – does it meet the necessary building and fire regulations?
• Low maintenance–is it easy to maintain?
Here we are going to delve a little deeper into the type of rainscreen panels available.
ACM panels are lightweight and provide you with the ultimate flexibility in terms of shape. If you’re looking for waves, curves, domes, or any other kind of shape, these panels are a good choice for your project. You can pre-coat the panels, usually with PvDF prior to fabrication and then assemble on site to bring your desired designs to life. It also provides a perfectly flat, smooth finish which encompasses the building like a second skin.
A fantastic material which will deliver a high quality, natural finish. Choose from all types of natural stones including; Sandstone, Limestone, Granite, Slate, Marble and Norstone to name a few, each one with their own unique charm. Stone is usually more costly than other panel options and due to the weight of the product it can increases the install costs.
A very versatile and high performing cladding panel which has a decorative coating which is fused to the fibre cement sheet. Along with the impressive colour and design options, you can have through coloured boards, an iridescent surface; translucent and opaque coatings and visible cement textures.
High pressure laminate (HPL)
HPL is highly durable, aesthetically appealing and extremely resilient. They are usually manufactured using a high pressure lamination process incorporating natural fibres and double hardened acrylic resins. The feature which makes this panel unique is the ability to print on any designs you wish, along with this and the unlimited number of lightfast colour options, HPL offers maximum creative freedom.
These stone based panels provide a look which is almost identical to natural stone. Not only are these man-made panels more durable and impact resistance compared to real stone, but they are much lighter which has significant impact on install costs. Reconstituted stone cladding panels deliver on performance and also on aesthetics.
Very suitable to designs which require an earthy and natural aesthetic look, these clay based panels provide a raw and natural finish. Usually produced from ceramic material which is taken through the old-age kiln process of being fired at a relatively low temperature. The end result is a hardwearing panel with an expressive textured surface. Adding colour pigments to the process means that you can create the exact tone and shade to suit.
Timber is a sustainable choice due to it being renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and having minimal embodied energy. There are many choices and variations of Timber options – from the softwoods such as the popular (due to its extraction method) Western Red Cedar to hardwoods like Oak. As it’s a natural material it will weather over time, require a treatment and more regular maintenance than other panel materials. In addition to these there are thermally modified timbers such as ThermoWood, Accoya, and PlatoWood. These timbers are created using a (patented) process which typically involves thermally modifying the properties of the timber to improve its lifespan, strength, durability and stability. Timber panels offer great thermal efficiency, sound insulation and a beautiful authentic wooden finish.
Manufactured in a large format panel process these panels can provide a high gloss modular glazed appearance and can represent the look of stone or quarried materials. Performance under impact can sometimes be an issue, however this is usually dealt with by bonding a glass fibre based mesh to the rear of each tile.
GRP (Glass re-enforced plastic)
This product lends itself to a building with a facade design that involves a repetitive 3D modular appearance. It is a versatile product which is often used when other materials cannot meet the required specifications such as fire ratings and durability.
It’s manufactured by combining plastic and glass strands with pigmented thermosetting UV resins. The end result is an impressively strong , durable and attractive panel.
Used for many years, this panel has historically been installed as part of a structural load bearing system. In recent years we have seen the introduction of acid etched concrete panels and which again are pre moulded and tend to be load bearing as well. However a form of light duty concrete panels have now appeared on the market.
So, as you can see you have a plethora of decorative rainscreen cladding panels to choose from, but you don’t have to choose just one. Stretch your creativity by combining two or more materials, colours and designs to create a unique and breath- taking facade.
To help you pick the right panel for your next project it’s worth getting a technical expert in at the very start. Use their technical and product knowledge to help you turn your design dreams into reality.