As our climate seems to head away from warm and dry or cold and dry and increasingly towards wet, we are forced to look at our buildings from a different viewpoint. At one time, we would have aimed for them to withstand snow or ice, perhaps the occasional burst of heat in the summer. However, now we have to deal with more rain, often for longer periods of time and in increasing strength. This is where rainscreen cladding comes in – so what does it do and does your building need it?
Rainscreen cladding is attached to the outer skin of any cladding on a building and is a type of double wall construction. There is an outer layer that stops the rain from getting in and an inner layer that creates thermal insulation as well as preventing excessive air from leaking out.
The outer layer in these systems is breathable and is a bit like human skin while the inner layer is denser and designed to prevent energy loss, therefore making buildings more energy efficient. It also adds to the longevity of the building by ensuring the structural frame is totally dry and never at risk of rotting or receiving water damage.
The system uses evaporation and drainage to take away the water that gets into the cavity. Droplets of water are not driven through panel joints or any openings due to the rainscreen idea, which uses wind pressure on the outer face that is equalised in the cavity. Minimal amounts of water can enter the outer layer in the heaviest rain but these run down the back of the cladding sheets and either evaporate or drain away.
Benefits Of Rainscreen Cladding
This protective system also has other benefits that can make it worth considering on a wide range of building types. Firstly, there is the maintenance aspect – one of the biggest costs for buildings can be when water gets into the structure and begins to cause decay. But stopping this from ever happening, maintenance costs are reduced and there is a lower risk of a major water related problem developing.
Because the inner layer acts as a thermal insulation layer, the building will result lower its utility bills as less heat is needed to keep it warm or air conditioning to keep it cool in summer. It also means that there is no further loss of space due to the need to install further insulation layers.
Rainscreen cladding creates a smart and uniform appearance to the outside of the building that is an efficient and effective way to modernise an older building while gaining extra benefits from the system. These cladding layers are made from sustainable products so the overall carbon footprint of the building is reduced.
It can even increase the value of the property due to its energy efficiency and also due to the naturally enhanced acoustic performance of the building after the cladding is added. The extra layer means that noises from outside remain outside and those working or living within can have a quieter, more concentrated work environment without noise pollution from the outside world.
Stuart Cooke is a digital marketer at SDG, construction technology specialists based in Northern Ireland.