Exterior cladding systems are used to enhance the appearance of exterior walls. These claddings may be made of surface coating, panels, and sandwich panels. They are designed to resist weather conditions, offer thermal insulation, and provide aesthetic external wall finishes.
External walls play a critical role in regulating the flow of heat and light. They also affect the energy requirements needed to maintain comfort conditions in a building. The efficiency of a building's temperature control depends on the performance of the cladding. A cladding system's strength and durability depend on the quality of the detailing and the construction. It is important to choose cladding materials that have the right thermal and structural properties.
Some of the most common cladding materials include stone, ceramic tile, and natural stone. However, many new products are being developed that are more environmentally friendly. Other cladding systems use advanced lightweight materials, such as polymers and fiber-reinforced composites. Increasingly, cladding systems are incorporating solar-based products as sustainable options become more viable.
For example, non-metallic cladding systems are modified to offer enhanced flame resistance and smoke characteristics. One example of this is the TRC (Thermal Reflective Coating) facade. This product offers a high finish quality and low environmental impact. Another option is rockwool.
Exterior cladding systems are often made from non-metallic materials such as foam plastic, clay, and stone. These materials are bonded by a high-pressure process. Their construction allows for a series of joint/sealing technologies. As a result, these cladding systems have low environmental impact and are compatible with other building elements.
Several combustible exterior cladding assemblies have caused fatal fires outside the United States. They include the Grenfell Tower in London and the World Trade Center Building in New York. In fact, the NFPA 285 test is one of the most widely-used tests for large-scale fire testing. While these assemblies are not specifically mentioned in the code, it is still mandatory to conduct a fire test.
Vapor barriers are also required to pass a NFPA 285 test. They must meet the total heat release rate of 20 MJ/m2, or 18 MJ/kg. They must also have an effective heat of combustion of 18 MJ/kg and a peak heat release rate of 150 kW/m2. Unlike most cladding materials, these materials must be tested with a cone calorimeter.
Cladding systems can cost up to 20% of the overall cost of a building project. Because a facade represents such a large portion of a building's budget, it is important to consider the aesthetics and maintenance of the cladding. Additionally, the insulating value of the material plays a major role in the efficiency of a building's temperature control.
Using a unitized assembly is a cost-effective way to build an exterior cladding system. IIEF's engineers weigh the needs of a project, including structural load requirements, in order to design the optimal system. Whether the building is a residential or commercial structure, IIEF offers standardized solutions to all markets.
Whether the facade is constructed of bricks, steel, or concrete, a cladding system can improve the look of the exterior of the building. This means it can protect the interior from moisture and fading, and it can control radiation from the sun.