For decades, preformed or roll-formed metal wall panels have served building owners and architects as one of the best combinations of economy, service and design. Preformed metal panels still do so today, if not more so.
The reasons are many. Recent improvements in the manufacturing process have resulted in a wider selection of profiles. New developments in coating technology provide even longer life spans for the panels. And a multitude of new design options have allowed preformed panels to make their way into the mainstream of commercial building design.
Preformed metal wall panels are manufactured from a variety of metals, including steel, aluminum, copper and zinc, with steel being the most commonly used. A highly durable paint or coating is applied to steel panels to protect them from the elements.
The finishes are applied during the manufacturing process in a controlled environment to help ensure even greater protection and longevity.
Preformed metal wall panels are available either insulated or uninsulated. Insulated metal panel systems are generally comprised of an exterior panel and an interior liner panel.
One of the reasons preformed panels have been popular over the years is their economic benefits. Preformed metal wall panels, for example, are typically lower in installed cost than that of tilt-up, precast or brick, and comparable to synthetic stucco or EIFS. That’s because metal wall panels can often be installed faster than other wall materials, resulting in savings in construction costs.
Preformed panels can be installed more quickly because their installation is not slowed by weather conditions. This all-weather capability minimizes construction delays, permits fast-track scheduling, gets the building dried-in quicker, and allows the other trades to proceed with their interior work.
Following completion of the building, owners can look forward to a wall panel service life of 20 to 30 years, and in many cases, even more, depending on geographic location and the surrounding environmental conditions. The longevity of the panels is due not only to their metallic construction, but also to the highly durable metal coatings used to protect them. The high tech coatings contribute to the low maintenance requirements of the wall system as well.
Metal panels are also an environmentally responsible and sustainable design choice that feature high recycled content, recyclability, low maintenance and long service life. The metal used in the panels, for example, is 100% recyclable at the end of its useful life.
In years past, preformed or roll-formed metal wall panels were used almost exclusively on industrial plants and warehouses. Today, they are used on virtually every type of structure, from manufacturing facilities and stores to schools and office buildings.
One reason for the growth of these traditional wall panels, especially in the commercial market, is their “new” versatility. At one time, for example, preformed panels were only installed vertically. Today, they can also be installed horizontally.
This ability to use the metal panels horizontally or vertically can help achieve a variety of different and unique looks. In addition, there are now a number of curved panels offered to give even more shape to wall designs.
Today’s preformed panels are also available in wider choice of sizes, textures, colors and profiles than ever before. Some of the more popular profiles include batten, integral batten, corrugated, and stepped, all of which help create distinctive reveals, shadowlines and other architectural effects.
The choice of textures ranges from smooth to a stucco-like appearance, while the choice of colors ranges from standard hues to custom-matched colors to help create more visually interesting buildings.
The myriad of design options now available with preformed wall panels offers the opportunity to add distinctive architectural effects to a building without necessarily incurring a lot of additional expense. The economical cost combined with time-proven performance positions preformed metal panels as a very viable choice for exterior wall applications.