[Posted April 14th, 2015 by Christy Serafini]
Rainscreen cladding is an outer layer of water-shedding material that is often placed on the outside of commercial buildings. The cladding panels can be made from different materials such as aluminum, zinc, copper and stainless steel, and they are composed of two different layers. The outer layer is designed to shed water, while the inner layer serves multiple functions such as a building’s structural wall, insulation and an extra weather barrier. The two layers are separated by a ventilated air cavity that allows any moisture that passes through the outer layer to drain to the exterior of the building.
Why is Rainscreen Cladding Used in Commercial Construction?
The biggest reason why rainscreen cladding is used in construction is to prevent water damage caused by rain. The outer cladding layer deflects most of the rain that falls, while any water that passes through simply drains out through the ventilation cavity. The airflow through the cavity also means that any moisture that gets onto the outer layer will dry quickly.
Rainscreen cladding also helps control the temperature inside the building. In buildings without this cladding system, rain can draw heat from inside of a building. When these panels are installed, rain can no longer comes into contact with the building itself. This means that rain no longer affects the temperature inside the building, turning the ventilation cavity into an extra layer of insulation.
Why Rainscreen Cladding is an Affordable Option for New Construction Projects
Rainscreen cladding has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years, but it has only become a common fixture in commercial and residential construction during the late 20th Century. A large factor in the popularity of metal panels is that they are more affordable than other materials. It can be made from several different kinds of metal, and while some of these materials can be expensive there are plenty of more affordable options available. The cladding itself can have a number of different finishes, making it versatile as well as useful. It can be found on countless commercial structures and residential homes, yet most people will not notice it.
The outer layer of a good cladding panel is practically waterproof, which means it will hold up in the worst rainstorms or snowstorms. Some moisture will get through this outer layer, but the ventilation cavity between the two cladding layers won’t let it stay for long. Most of the water will simply drain away, while any moisture that remains dries quickly thanks to a constant air flow. Finally, this type of material can help keep heating and air conditioning bills to a minimum since the ventilation cavity itself acts as a kind of insulation.
Rainscreen cladding seems like a very simple concept, but it is one that has been proven to work incredibly well. It’s inexpensive and versatile enough to work with practically any building, and it provides protection from moisture and the elements for years. With as simple and useful as this moisture control method is, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a part of practically every construction project, especially those located in regions known for heavy rain.