How to specify Metal Panel Facades – Part I: Sheet Material

Jun 16, 2021Blogs, Edgeline, Product News, Projects, Vitrabond, Vitraplate

Metal Panel Material… Mounting System… Fabricator… Installer… or all 4??


This continues to be probably the most confused topics in the Metal Panel Facade industry. Our General Manager, Jerry Fossey, wrote a post about this topic over 5 years ago, and the confusion continues today.

There are various types of metal panels available, like the traditional Metal Composite Material (known as MCM or ACM) and the more recent solid aluminum pre-finished plate products.

We have broken this important topic into a four-part series to help dispel any misunderstandings looking at the supply chain from raw material to the building: Sheet Material > Installation System > Fabrication > Installation

The first topic in the series is Sheet Material:


Sheet Material:

There are two primary types of metal panel material used on building facades. Pre-Finished solid aluminum, and Metal Composite Material. I won’t go into the benefits of both products here, because they are many and varied, and really depend on the project. However, as a quick summary, MCM consists of two skins of metal sandwiching a core material, which provides greater rigidity and superior flatness than sheet metal or plate. The solid plate option however is a non-combustible solution, which is growing in popularity due to fires in some parts of the world due to incorrect use of MCM products and poor wall assembly design. (Compare to driving without a seatbelt… works fine until something unexpected happens. It’s not the car’s fault you went thru the windshield!)


Metal Composite Material:

The MCM Manufacturer is the one that makes sheets of MCM, in a process where the skins and core are fused together in a continuous coil process. There are also some manufacturers that press skins to a core one sheet at a time, however this is generally known to be a lower quality bond, which is important when you consider the harsh conditions an exterior building envelope is required to withstand.

Important Considerations for Specifiers include product testing and third-party auditing, peel strength and other material properties, and finish properties.


Pre-Finished Solid Aluminum:

The Pre-Finished Solid Aluminum manufacturer makes sheets of pre-coated material using a process that ensures they are flat, and uses a paint system that allows the material to be formed and folded after they are coated (important point here: spray applied and powder-coated finishes DO NOT have the right properties to allow for post-forming, but that’s another blog for another day).

Important Considerations for Specifiers include finish system used, material thickness (under 3mm/1/8″ is prone to oil-canning).


The next topic in the series will be Installation Systems. If you have any queries or would like further information in the meantime, please contact us.

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