It probably comes as no surprise to learn that aluminum wall cladding is one of the most popular materials in the construction industry. Across the United States and Canada, countless commercial buildings feature aluminum wall cladding products and system assemblies in the exterior design. Not only does aluminum add a modern aesthetic to even the most streamlined of buildings, but these wall products are durable and easy to maintain.
Plus, aluminum helps buildings be more energy efficient, is versatile, and comes in at a lower installed cost than many other alternatives. Below we’re taking a quick yet informative look at these popular materials to get you started in understanding the product options and finishes available for your architectural building project.
What Is Wall Cladding?
At the most fundamental level, wall cladding is any material used in the construction industry that’s installed on the exterior of a building and serves as part of the building envelope. The wall system provides numerous functions and advantages, from providing thermal insulation and air and moisture resistance, to adding design and aesthetic character to a building’s appearance and structure.
Wall cladding finishes may vary from a material’s natural finish to painted, treated, or physically altered to meet a specific design intent. In recent years however, there’s been a huge shift towards product and finish selection based on factors related to sustainability, building performance, and the safety and wellbeing of its occupants.
Why Use Aluminum Cladding?
Aluminum wall cladding is a material of choice in numerous configurations including single skin sheet, thicker solid aluminum plate, and aluminum composite material (ACM) consisting of two aluminum skins bonded to a solid fire-retardant core. There are a number of reasons why aluminum wall cladding is the preferred choice.
First, let’s talk about sustainability. Aluminum is a continuously recycled metal with almost 75% of all the aluminum ever produced still in use today. Plus, according to the IAI regional GARC model, available online at www.world-aluminium.org, in North America at least 85% of aluminum shipped for use in the building and construction market is still in use today.
The next point is its versatility in function. Finished aluminum wall cladding can be formed into various shapes and configurations, and with a natural light weight and high strength to weight ratio, can be installed faster and more economically than heavier wall cladding choices. This enables architects to design buildings that meet their vision while taking advantage of the functional benefits of the material.
When properly designed and installed, aluminum wall cladding, as part of the exterior wall assembly, is an integral part of a building’s weather resistance, preventing unwanted air and water intrusion while providing specific energy performance.
It also contributes to the safety and welfare of a building’s occupants as wall assemblies must comply with fire safety requirements stipulated in national building codes as well as specific state, province, and municipal requirements across North America.
Finally, aluminum wall cladding can be finished with a wide range of options from physical texturing, such as embossing or roll-forming sheet, to anodizing, spray coating, and coil coating sheet and plate. The type of finishing employed depends on the needs of the application as well as the limitations of the wall cladding product itself.
For pre-finished aluminum wall cladding, such as single skin sheet, ACM aluminum composite material, and solid aluminum plate, coil coated finishing is the typical application process of choice.
Architects specify coil coated finishes because of their color consistency and durability. When utilizing AAMA 2605 compliant paint coatings such as 70% resin kynar, the material can be backed by industry standard finish warranties spanning 20 or 30 years from installation.
In addition to industry standard solid colors to finishes that are more metallic in appearance, coil coating opens up a plethora of finishes, from solid color, metallic like colors, and specialty finish options that mimic wood, natural metals, and even stone finishes.
Wall Aluminum Cladding from Alfrex
Alfrex is a domestic manufacturer of Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) located in Buford, Georgia USA. Alfrex is unique in offering a complimentary line of pre-finished 100% solid aluminum plate for applications requiring non-combustible or high structural performance wall cladding. Both product lines are coil coated utilizing 70% PVDF Kynar resin paint systems from PPG Industries and are available in both standard and custom color finishes, as well as specialty finishes.
The benefit of coil coated Alfrex Plate is that it can be cut, routed, folded, and installed with virtually the same techniques as Alfrex FR core ACM eliminating the need for post-painting plate wall cladding panels which may lower costs and decrease product lead times. Alfrex also stocks matching 0.040” pre-finished aluminum flat sheet in all standard paint finish colors for use as trim, flashing, and accessories in coordination with Alfrex MCM or Plate.
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Alfrex Wall Cladding Finish Options
While the integrity of the cladding, including durability, is crucial to a building’s success, the actual appearance has a huge impact on how a project is perceived. From faux-terracotta, and rustic wood to shiny metal and sturdy concrete, there is no shortage of unique options for modern commercial buildings. Here are the different types of finishes offered on the Alfrex product:
- Solid Colors
A variety of neutral colors spanning Whites, Grays, Black, & Bronze – and vivid solid colors including Vibrant Red, Signal Blue
- Mica and Metallic Finishes
Finishes providing a metallic look. Two-coat mica finishes have a more subtle appearance and include poplar colors like Anodic Clear, Pewter, Champagne, and Bronze. Three-coat metallic finishes on the other hand are more brilliant due to metallic flakes in the paint color coat and include finishes such as Bright Silver Metallic Champagne Metallic, and Graphite Metallic.
- Specialty Finishes
Specialty finishes developed to closely mimic the appearance of other materials while still providing the benefits of aluminum. Stocked wood grain finishes include Teak, Golden Oak, and Dark Walnut, while faux metal finishes include three variations of zinc and the wildly popular Tile Corten finish, which closely resembles Corten Steel.
- Custom Colors
Alfrex provides custom matching to transform your imagination into reality using the color or finish of your choice. Simply provide a color sample, coating manufacturer paint code, Pantone number, or PMS number, and we’ll quickly turn around an accurate match that meets your project requirements.
Alfrex, LLC is a global architectural metal wall cladding manufacturer headquartered in Buford, GA USA. It is specialized in fire-resistant and non-combustible materials with a portfolio including Alfrex FR Metal Composite Material, matching 0.040″ Flat Sheet, coil coated (pre-finished) Alfrex Solid Aluminum Plate, and mill finish solid aluminum plate for post painting small lot, custom colors.
Our manufacturing philosophy is centered on maintaining healthy inventories of MCM sheets and painted coil in all standard paint finishes to enable a nimble and extremely flexible operation that can manufacture made-to-order MCM in both standard and custom colors.
Company highlights include:
- 20+ years of experience manufacturing specialty fire-resistant coatings and materials through its parent company – Unience, Co Ltd.
- 14+ years of experience manufacturing FR core MCM
- Made in the USA – Buford, Georgia Plant Accredited and Fully Operational
- Manufacturing plants in the USA and South Korea
- Commercial offices in the USA and Canada
- > 3 million square feet of Alfrex wall cladding installed in North America
- The only domestic MCM manufacturer with a complimentary line of 3mm thick prefinished aluminum plate.
- Stocked matching 0.040” pre-finished aluminum flat sheet in all standard paint finish colors for use as trim, flashing, and accessories in coordination with Alfrex MCM or Plate.
Whether you have a project in mind, need samples, or simply have a few questions, Alfrex is ready to assist. Contact us today.