Insulated Metal Panels
Insulated Metal panels not only provide building owners and architects with the opportunity to lower a building’s initial construction cost but also its energy and maintenance costs over the life of the building.
The insulating process involves injecting liquid insulating foam – usually polyurethane – between two metal face sheets, typically made of steel or aluminum. The foamed-in-place core fuses to the metal skins, expands to completely fill the interior cavity, then solidifies to create a solid, monolithic panel. At the end of this process, there are no gaps or voids to sap thermal value, which can be R-14 to R-30 depending upon the insulating core used and its thickness.
The impermeable metal faces ensure that high insulating values are maintained for the life of the building by completely encapsulating the insulating material and protecting it from degradation by air or moisture. The pre-insulated panels, which are available in a variety of widths, lengths, gauges and finishes, are shipped to the jobsite ready for fast, easy installation. They can be installed either vertically or horizontally for maximum design flexibility.
It is important to note that insulated metal panels are non-reservoir walls. In other words, they do not absorb water. By contrast, brick, precast, tilt-up, concrete and most other materials that have the properties of cement used for exterior walls, absorb water when it rains. If that moisture enters the wall cavity and is not vented or drained, it could become a source for mold and mildew growth.
Structural Metal Panels: Industrial, Commercial Panels
Insulated Metal Panels Have Highest Insulating Value per Inch
Insulated metal panels are installed in three broad categories of buildings: cold storage, industrial, and commercial. The use of Insulated Metal Panels is the preferred method of construction for buildings in which refrigerated or other low-temperature controlled interior environments are required. Typical cold storage projects include food distribution and storage facilities as well as food processing facilities. Industrial applications are often manufacturing facilities, while commercial applications include hospitals, office buildings, hotels, airports, arenas, schools and more.
Insulated Metal Panels continue to grow in applications like these because of the many benefits inherent with the panels, prime of which is their exceptional thermal performance. Insulated Metal Panels have the highest insulating value per inch of all wall insulating products. As a result, they can significantly lower a building’s energy costs and overall operating costs.
Another contributing factor to the panels’ thermal performance is their ability to provide uniform insulating performance because the shape and thickness of the insulating material is maintained between metal panels. There are no points at which the insulation is compressed, which could reduce insulating value. In addition, tongue and grove installation ensures that the entire wall area is covered with insulation.
Insulated Metal Panels Are Lightweight; Quick and Easy to Install
Insulated metal panels are also quick and easy to install. For example, while tilt-up, precast or block often require cranes and other equipment to be set in place, lightweight Insulated Metal Panels can often be installed with forklifts or a simple pulley system, lowering construction costs for the owner.
Moreover, the panels are light in weight compared to many other exterior wall choices, which results in lower foundations, lighter framing, and subsequently, lower initial construction costs. In addition the panels can also be installed all year long, including periods of inclement weather. This reduces labor costs while speeding up construction and completion time. And, faster building completion means reduced construction and interim financing costs.
After the panels are installed, building owners benefit from the systems’ durability, longevity, and low maintenance requirements. High performance coatings applied to the metal skins to protect the panels from the elements make this possible. Today’s generation of coatings are designed to last for decades and eliminate the need to re-paint the surface.
Insulated Metal Panels Designs Vary According to Application
In cold storage projects, thermal performance is the prime concern. As a result, there are far more options in terms of panel thicknesses (2”, 4”, 6”, 8” and more) and in insulating values. In commercial applications, a 2” panel generally meets most buildings’ insulating requirements.
In terms of aesthetics, cold storage products are usually profiled. The use of a rib or other profile provides the panel with the ability to span greater lengths without additional support and to overcome the effect of thermal build-up on the exterior face as well as the temperature differential between the inside and outside of the structure.
Colors, Textures and Finishes
Insulated metal panels for commercial projects are available in a range of colors, including both standard and custom; textures, including embossed and striated; and finishes. The panels can also be oriented vertically or horizontally to help create even more visually interesting structures. This design flexibility provides owners and architects with more freedom to express themselves and to add more curb appeal to a building.
Insulated Metal Panels offer a number of “green” or ecological benefits as well. The most evident is the recycled content of the steel or aluminum used in a panel’s skin. In addition, when Insulated Metal Panels are removed from a wall, they can actually be re-used on another project, saving them from the landfill.