Metal Cladding: An Expert's Guide

Written by Lillian Connors
23
May

Metal cladding has been a very popular choice in architecture for quite some time now. Designer and experts alike seem to have truly embraced metal cladding not only for its flexibility but for its clean look and a beautiful finish.

However, since metal cladding comes in many different shapes, styles, materials and finishes, deciding on the perfect one to encase a building in can be somewhat tricky. Here, we’ll explore different types of metal cladding systems, materials they’re made of, their performance as well as the finishes.

Metal cladding systems

Metal cladding is most commonly used as a non-structural element designed to both protect the structure from natural elements and offer a stunning external finish. Different metal cladding systems include standing seam, snap lock, interlocking system, flatlock and shingle, cassette, as well as a custom system. The main difference between these systems lies in the way they are fixed onto the construction, but they also vary in flexibility, appearance and material. So, choose the best metal cladding system depending on the core structure and the look you want to go with. Also, keep in mind that not all the materials are available within each system, so that’ definitely something you should pay attention to as well.

The materials

The materials used to make metal cladding are extremely versatile, with each material offering different unique strengths and weaknesses. The choice of the material will usually depend on the climatic conditions the building is exposed to, but also on the structural system itself as well as the construction budget. Some of the most common materials used include stainless steel, galvanized steel, weathering steel, aluminium, titanium, zinc, copper and brass.The difference among these – aside from their durability – is quite apparent in colour and texture, so again, choose the material depending on the final look you are going for. For instance, stainless steel offers a smooth, almost perfect look, while weathering steel is designed to form a protective layer of sorts over time, making it look like it’s constantly rusty.  

The finishes

As with the materials, there are numerous types of finishes to choose from, but it all boils down to the final look you are going for. Depending on the desired look and performance, you can choose between sandblasted, brushed, mirrored, engine turned, powder coated or patterned finish. For instance, do know that contemporary steel cladding is easily installed with the minimal impact on the wall integrity and it comes in such a variety of colours and finishes that makes it a perfect choice for recladding and rectification projects. So, before you decide on the finish, consult with your manufacturer to find the most suitable choice for your project.

The performance

Finally, the main thing that makes metal cladding such a popular choice is definitely its performance. First of all, metal cladding is extremely durable, but since some materials used are less durable than others do know that they can be damaged by hale, for instance, so your local weather into consideration when choosing the appropriate one. Furthermore, metal cladding is also fire resistant, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t employ other precautionary measures as well. Metal cladding also provides acoustic and thermal insulation and is super wind action resistant. Given the range of different systems, materials and finishes available, it is safe to assume that you will have no difficulty finding something that will work excellently for your particular project. Just keep in mind the area and the climate you live in, as well as the features of the material you are considering choosing and make sure that it is the right fit.