Enjoy a New Approach to Moisture Control with Rainscreen Cladding

Enjoy a New Approach to Moisture Control with Rainscreen Cladding

Posted October 4th, 2013 by Lenora Hamilton


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Many people have never heard of rainscreen cladding, although most Americans pass at least one building covered with a rainscreen cladding system every day. Keep reading to find out more about how rainscreen cladding works to protect a building from being damaged by high winds and moisture, while also adding beauty and refinement to all types of structures.

Why Is Rainscreen Cladding an Appropriate Alternative to the Barrier Wall Approach?

rainscreen cladding moisture control
rainscreen cladding moisture control

Rainscreen cladding is a specialized type of building cladding used on both large, high-rise structures as well as single-story facilities. Rainscreen cladding is growing in popularity over traditional barrier wall applications because barrier wall applications require the use of sealant at joints as the final defense against moisture penetration into the interior of the building. Sealant materials can fail over time and proper workmanship during installation proves critical to the longevity of the system.

In the case of high-rise structures, the increased wind load means that the cladding material used on a high-rise building must be able to flex as the building moves slightly in response to high winds. Standard cladding materials that are nailed or screwed firmly into place cannot stand up to this type of movement without cracking or breaking. Rainscreen cladding is designed to move with a building while also preventing moisture from damaging the structure. Rainscreen cladding has the added benefit of being lighter than a solid siding material, which helps to reduce the weight that must be supported by the structural members of a building.

How Does Rainscreen Cladding Work?

Attaching rainscreen cladding necessitates the use of a double-layered system on the exterior of a structure. The inner layer provides most of the thermal insulation and is also relatively impermeable to moisture. The outer cladding prevents a majority of rainfall from ever reaching the inner wall, although most rainscreen cladding systems are designed in such a way that some moisture does penetrate behind the outer cladding. When installed, the cladding is left partially unattached from the wall of the building, allowing the pressure to equalize between the front and back of the panel and allowing any water that does infiltrate behind the cladding panel to drain out or evaporate.

What Materials Are Used For Rainscreen Cladding Panels?

The materials used on the exterior of a building must be strong and resistant to all kinds of weather. Metals such as zinc, copper, steel and aluminum are frequently employed in rainscreen cladding. Special alloys and coated metal panels, including galvanized steel, are also commonly used. The panels used for rainscreen cladding may be installed without further surface treatment or may be finished in a variety of ways to coordinate with the architectural style of a building or to make a building mesh seamlessly with other nearby structures.

Is Metal Cladding Available In Different Colors And Styles?

Rainscreen cladding may sound industrial and utilitarian, but it does not have to look plain and unattractive. Cladding not only protects a structure, the panels are available in a range of colors and finishes that can be used to enhance the appearance of a building. A single style of panel may be employed throughout an entire project, or different colors, sizes and styles may be mixed to create visual interest. Rainscreen cladding panels can be used to add a colorful geometric pattern to a building or customized with a logo, name or other design.

Although rainscreen cladding is a necessity for many large structures, the owners and builders of smaller structures are starting to use it thanks to its ability to create a protective, moisture-resistant shield around any building while offering an unmatched level of style and design. Wade Architectural Systems has supplied metal rainscreen cladding and roofing materials for more than 2,500 projects throughout the United States, from industry leading manufacturers such as Centria, Dri-Design and VMZINC.