Metal Wall Panels: Types, Benefits, and Considerations

Metal Wall Panels: Types, Benefits, and Considerations

As with other construction materials, metal panels come in a variety of applications, features, size and types. Each is optimized for the specified application and use. Due to inherent properties such as corrosion resistance, the most commonly used materials for panels are aluminum, steel, zinc, copper, or alloys. The applications are broad and cover differently-sized projects and walling systems, from low slope roof systems, insulated panels, plate, single skin and composites.

Panel Types

Advances in technology offer virtually endless panel types. However, the following are in extensive use in both residential and commercial projects:

  • Lap seam: Features ship lapped metal sheets, usually a maximum of 20 feet long. However, the manufacturer can provide pre-cut sections to match your exact requirements. The seam provides protection against water and particle ingress.
  • IMP’s:  Insulated Metal Panel, consists of 2 metal sheets over a foam core material. The thickness of the core material depends on the amount of insulation required. Typical insulation in use is a HCFC free polurethane or polyisocyanurate foam.
  • Plate Panels: Features flat metal panels formed as per the request or according to application. For added strength, manufacturers often add stiffeners and support structures. This type features superior impact resistance since the panels are fabricated from thick metal plates.
  • Metal-faced composites: These are 2 metal sheets and a thermoplastic core. These are used when a monolithic aesthetic is desired. Unlike IMP’s the core has no thermal value.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Panels

Metal presents a number of mechanical and aesthetic features.  Panel manufacturers will often add on other materials to improve the positives, as well as reduce the negative characteristics. When purchasing paneling, regardless of project size, consider the following factors.

  • Impact resistance: This depends on the point of installation and related requirements. Generally, metal panels have low impact resistance, except for the plate and composite panels. Most damage emanates from the initial transport and loading, installation, and maintenance. For areas that have a high risk of impacts, lean toward impact-resistant panels. However, regular panels function effectively for low impact fields such as interior sections and low maintenance sections.
  • Sound muffling: Compared to other materials, metal panels generally have low acoustic properties, therefore, are not suitable for applications such as sounds halls, and acoustic rooms. However, new designs feature wall cavities and foaming for improved acoustic properties
  • Moisture resistance: Resistance to humidity and water ingress depends on the joint design. However, across the board, the panels exhibit high moisture resistance and are in extensive use as barrier systems, rain screens, and drainage installations.
  • Fire resistance: Metal is not flammable. Therefore, the panels are great fire stoppers. However, the inclusion of insulation and core materials may significantly reduce this property. The manufacturer should thus review the rating after material addition. Areas with higher susceptibility to fires such as chemical industries require special coatings, as well as strategically-placed fire retardants.
  • Thermal performance: The thermal property entirely depends on the amount of insulation and core material in the panel. With this in mind, selection should depend on the rating and application.
  • Finish: Other than the highlighted features, the panels should be durable, and aesthetically appealing. Durability depends on the type of finish. Commonly used finishing includes paints, anodized coating, and even a stucco type finish. In many cases the result, especially for the anodized coating, depend on the application area.Metal panels are finished in the factory and made to the specified sizes.
  • Material choice also determines product durability and area of application. For a more natural product in an exterior use corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, zinc, and copper. For painted material, steel and aluminum comes in handy due to the relatively low cost. Note that special applications such as coastal environments and industries that deal with hazardous gasses and liquids require special coatings and finishes.

Benefits of Metal Wall Panels

  • The main advantage associated with panels is the low cost, low maintenance feature. Metal by nature is quite handy, and with the right coating and installation, can withstand a number of elements including heat, cold, moisture and running water. This allows for optimized interior conditions, as well as protecting the furnishing, occupants and equipment from the weather elements. Regular metal panels offer 20-40 years of service with proper installation and maintenance. Other cost benefits associated with the paneling include low labor costs, superior HVAC properties and better return on investment.
  • Metal panels make low demands on the structure supporting them. In most cases, the panels are light and feature long sections, making them easy and fast to install. In addition, the light weight does not require excessive supporting structures such as decks and substrates. This is both inexpensive and of significance in earthquake prone-areas and low budget constructions.
  • The easy finishing property of metal allocates a broad array of colors, profiles and textures. This adds to an affordable array of choices to match the varied client requirements. The versatility comes in handy for designers, architects and engineers seeking daring projects that would otherwise be costly, or impossible with other building materials. A chief highlight is that metal can be retrofitted with existing walling systems with ease. The easy integration allocation allows for faster renovations on old buildings, reduced costs, and reduced landfill waste due to low debris resulting from construction and renovation projects.
  • Cost. The extensive use of metal in construction and manufacturing sectors means that metal is available and affordable. Metal walling is economical in the initial costs, installation, as well as over the service-life. The low cost is most significant for large construction projects such as industrial and commercial facilities. To save on costs, however, ensure that you select the right panels from the wide array available. In addition, custom specifications such as pre-cut options may reduce the installation time as well as material wastage.
  • Metal is energy efficient and sustainable. With the current calls for sustainability and energy conservation, the material comes in handy to meet set building codes, save on heating and cooling cost. Metal is highly recyclable, and this qualifies for energy and environmentally-friendly design points.