Zinc panels are a cost-effective alternative to steel or aluminum panels for cladding exterior walls, creating a durable metal roof or for adding interior metal accents. Unlike steel panels, zinc panels form a natural patina of zinc hydroxicarbonate when exposed to air containing carbon dioxide, and this patina serves to protect the panels from corrosion, salt and other natural forces. In the right conditions, zinc panels can easily last up to 50 years before they must be replaced, and have even been known to last more than 100 years in parts of Europe.
Zinc panels are available in a wide variety of styles, configurations and finishes, depending on the manufacturer. They are extremely versatile and can be curved or formed to fit over curves or around obstacles.
Here are a few of the most common types of zinc panels available today:
Interlocking zinc panels are longitudinal panels that can be oriented horizontally or vertically. They use a self-supporting tongue and grove attachment system to interlock the panels, which are then secured by metal clips to the underlying wood or metal framework. They are available in sections 10 feet long for vertical installations and 20 feet long for horizontal installations. Because they are self-supporting, they can be installed on support systems that are not continuous, making them easy to use in both new construction and renovation projects.
With a classic sine-wave pattern, corrugated zinc panels are an economical cladding solution that can add visual appeal to nearly any building with alternating areas of shadow and light.
They are available in panel lengths of 9 ½ feet, and widths of 27 3/8 or 37 3/8 inches depending on the finish. They are installed on a metal frame over masonry or steel walls, and can be orientated horizontally, vertically or diagonally. They are perfect for exterior wall cladding or interior surfaces.
3) Flat Lock
Flat lock panels are low-profile overlapped longitudinal zinc panels that minimize the reveal to create a nearly flat-looking surface. They can be installed either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, and they are available in 10-foot lengths for horizontal installations or 6-foot lengths for vertical installation, both with a 16-inch width. Flat lock panels use a concealed fastener and clip system, with a single fold that secures the panel on each of the four sides.
4) Standing Seam
Standing seam panels are available with either a single lock or a double lock, and are longitudinal panels that can be installed either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. For vertical installations, the panels lengths are limited to 15 feet, with a 16 inch width, and for horizontal applications, the panels are 20 feet by 16 inches. They require a solid substrate for installation, such as a masonry wall or plywood, and they use concealed clips and fasteners. Standing seam panels can be used in areas with high wind or snow loads, and are suitable for both wall cladding and roofs.
Cassette panels are pre-formed zinc panels that have either a rectangular or square shape. Depending on the finish, they are available in 30 by 30-inch squares, 24 by 24-inch squares, 72 by 24-inch rectangles or 120 by 24-inch rectangles. They can be orientated horizontally or vertically, and installed over directly over plywood or over exterior gypsum with straps or girts applied to hold the fasteners. They use a unique panel interlocking system that makes the installation process quick and easy.
These panels are diamond shaped and installed similar to shingles on either walls or roof surfaces. They are a pre-formed panel that includes a sound-insulation layer to reduce noise, and they feature a concealed fastener system that locks each panel to the adjacent panels with clips and a series of three holes that are pre-drilled for screws, making the installation fast and easy. They are designed to be installed directly over plywood.
Composite zinc panels feature two thin zinc panels that are bonded to a polyethylene core using thermally-activated adhesives. This provides enhanced resistance to fire. Composite zinc panels provide exceptional strength and the can easily be curved or formed to create unique shapes and patterns. They are available in panels that are 146 inches long by 48 inches wide and must be installed over a metal framework.
Benefits of Zinc Panels
Zinc panels have many great benefits that make them perfect for any project, and here are just a few:
- Corrosion Resistance: The natural patina of zinc prevents corrosion damage and allows zinc panels to last over 50 years exposed to the elements.
- Durability: Zinc is an extremely durable metal that is slightly lighter than steel, and its natural patina not only prevents rust, but it also heals surface scratches.
- Several Available Finishes: Zinc panels are available in several finishes, including natural zinc, weathered zinc that mimics the natural aging process and a dark zinc, with a black weathered surface that provides a unique contrast to lighter colors. Many panels are also available with colored pigments, including natural shades of red, blue, green and brown, as well as textured finishes.
- Sustainability: Zinc panels are made from natural materials that are extremely easy to recycle at the end of their life, making new products such as batteries or becoming part of another metal alloy.
Zinc panels can be used in many types of building projects, for commercial, industrial or even residential use. They can blend in easily with the surroundings in both urban and rural settings, or they can be used to create a unique contrast to nearby structures. With so many benefits, zinc panels are a great alternative to other cladding or roofing materials.