When architects and contractors look to add durability, aesthetic appeal and great design principles to their residential and commercial projects, their first choice is cladding. In particular, metal cladding offers flexibility, variety and streamlined finishes that can enhance or reinvigorate even the most dilapidated structure.
Because of this popularity, manufacturers have perfected a range of metallic cladding options to serve the needs of different types of customers. Here are some of the most commonly used options available on the market today.
While zinc is possibly the least utilized metal cladding, it does offer some unique properties. While steel and other metals are susceptible to rust, and will eventually deteriorate over time with continued exposure to moisture, zinc reacts to carbon dioxide prevalent in the air forming an oxidized coating on its surface. This bluish surface layer, actually protects zinc against corrosion, making it a good choice for customer’s seeking longevity in their metal cladding.
Be warned, however, if zinc is exposed to condensation without sufficient carbon dioxide to produce a zinc carbonate layer, then a white rust will form which will deteriorate the metal in much the same was as steel.
Zinc is a very malleable, soft metal which makes it very easy to manufacture and shape, however this flexibility also makes it more susceptible to brittleness and breakage in cold temperature. So, buildings in harsher climates are recommended to stay away from zinc metal cladding.
Copper is the go-to choice for designers looking for a more traditional appearance for their structures. The warm brownish tones offer an inviting appeal for both residents and visitors. Copper also ages quite elegantly, when exposed to harsh weather copper will develop a deep brown patina, similar to zinc exposure to carbon dioxide will result in the formation of a protective oxide layer. In copper’s case this oxide layer is a sea-green in color.
Copper is lightweight, durable and easy to cut and shape; however the material is also one of the most expensive metal claddings available; so it might not be a cost-effective option for large-scale constructions.
Corrugated steel cladding has been used in building facades since the 19th century. It provides affordability, strength and a classic appeal to any building structure. The main downside of this type of cladding is corrosion, steel does not have any of the moisture resistant properties of zinc and copper, and thus it can deteriorate quite quickly in the wrong climate. To protect against this, steel must be repainted regularly in order to keep the cladding in good condition.
Perhaps the most popular choice for metal cladding is aluminum. This material offers a great compromise between many of the qualities listed above. Aluminum is relatively affordable, lightweight and resistant to rust. It is also completely recyclable, adding a touch of sustainability to any building.
Recently, aluminum composite panels which enhance many of the appealing properties of aluminum have come into vogue. These factory engineered cladding solutions offer best-in-class durability and strength, with a versatile array of ACL panel finishes and textures available, more and more designers are turning to this composite material as their first choice for metal cladding.