Composite Materials for Façade

Feb 02, 2022

Materials That Transform The City Skyline

Building skin covers the spaces containing us, it further encloses the volume in which we move around and exist. The “skin of the architecture” therefore deserves particular attention. They can be simple, functional & exciting!

The ability to craft building envelop with composite materials encourage new ideas. These new-age composite materials led to the creation of unique structures, with their proportion, balanced interplay of surface texture and colors. We explore high-performance composite materials like ACP, WPC & HPL for their specific character and uses.

What are composite Materials?

A composite material is manufactured with two or more constituent materials These materials have notably dissimilar chemical or physical properties and are merged to create a material with properties, unlike the individual components. Composite materials are less expensive, lighter, stronger, or more durable when compared with other generic materials.

Façade featuring composite materials!

W P C  -  P A N E L S

Wood-plastic composite is a lumber product that is a blend of recycled plastic and small wood particles or fibers. WPCs are comparatively new products as compared to the long history of natural lumber or traditional wood composites boards like particleboard or fiberboard which does not offer[1]  aesthetic value unless they are laminated boards. WPC has inherited the aesthetics of natural wood that will resist years of climatic changes with higher strength and resilience of hardwood at the affordability of PVC.

WPC louvers & Cladding system

Now, what are WPC made of?

Composition Illustration from Straton

Features

WPC cladding offers the most natural-looking wood finish with a vivid earthy color palette and natural grains, an impermeable layer that is resistant to scratches, stains and fading. The extrusion process makes WPC highly durable, long-lasting, and resilient to relative impact.

Natural Wood like textures with WPC.

● Weather Resistance: WPC can withstand extreme weather conditions; it does not crack or buckle or splinter under the harsh sun.

● Water Resistance: Has low water absorption properties, spill, and moisture-proof. It is resistant to termites and mold.

● Maintenance-free, Standard cleansing of wiping down with household detergents and other cleaning agents are suitable, does not require painting or polishing.

● Durability: High-density polyethylene composite boards that have good stability & strength are suitable for external application.

WPC is available in thickness ranging from 9 mm to 300 mm. Available in plank form 140mm to 150mm wide and length ranging from 2200mm to 2900mm. Although be sure to check panel sizes that may vary with different Brands.

Applications

● Exterior Application – Façade cladding, Balcony roofing, Pergolas, Vertical louvres.

● Interior Application – Wall Panels, False Ceiling, Shutters for cupboards & wardrobes, Modular Kitchens, Countertops, column covers and more.

● Other Applications – Railing, Fencing, Outdoor Decking etc.

Things to Remember when using WPC

· In comparison to natural wood, WPC does not match high-temperature resistance.

· Although WPCs are UV resistant, it is susceptible to discoloration over a period.

· WPC may release pungent gases due to the presence of plastic fiber during a fire.

Brands to Look out - Everwood, Alstone, Leben, Straton.


A C P - P A N E L S

Aluminum composite panels (ACP) are popular cladding materials for their lightweight and delightfully flexible nature. It’s easy to work with these alloy panels, they can be sawn (saw cut), CNC machined, drilled, shaped, folded, or bent. When installing it can be riveted, screwed, or it can even be mounted as a suspended panel. Making it one of the easiest materials to work.

ACP Facade Panels

Now, what are ACP Panels made of?

ACP Sheets are sandwich panels made of two thin aluminum sheets bonded to a core material which may be in combination with polyethylene and mineral fibers. As seen in the image, the top & bottom layer is Aluminum, and the center layer is either polyethene or Mineral fibers. Now according to the core composition, ACP panels can be classified into three categories.

● PE Core is made of 100% polyethylene.

● FR Grade has approximately 30% Polyethylene & 70% Mineral Filler.

● A2 Class has 10% Polyethylene & 90% Mineral Filler.

The performance of the façade material is distinguished by its core composition and precise flatness. Visually the three varieties of the core are similar with excellent formability. However, the PE core has a high insulation capacity. FR grade with 70% mineral compound offers a 3Hr fire rating. An A2 sheet with 90% mineral compound exhibit the best self-flame-extinguishing behavior and active smoke suppressant.

Aluminum Sandwich panel layers. Illustration from Alucobond.

Features

ACP Panels have transformed the city skyline with its exquisite color variants, several brands offer captivating surface textures and finishes that can resemble Metallic, Wood finish and other creative, interesting designs. Aluminum panels highly adaptive material with the following properties:

● Termite Resistance: Alloys are resistant to termite, borer & fungi attack.

● Weather Resistance: UV Ray resistant & can withstand extreme weather conditions.

● Durability: They are durable and offer high load performance. Resistant to wear and tear, over decades. Also shows resistance to high temperatures.

● Flatness: Aluminum composite panels offer a high level of flexural strength and are extremely lightweight providing an excellent flat surface design that meets the high expectations of modern architecture.

● Easy to install: They can also be removed and reinstalled easily. Best use for refurbishing at convenience.

● Strength: High strength of aluminum greatly improves the strength of the panel, protecting against wind pressure & shockproof. Alloy offers the best workability and minimal crack risks.

● Fire Resistance: The outer aluminum foil of the panel can protect the core material, preventing heat conduction at the initial combustion stage. A2 with its mineral core is not combustible, FR grade has low flammability.

● Environment-friendly as it is lead-free material, and all aluminum sheets can be completely recycled.

● Improved noise reduction, ACP panel can offer additional 8-10db noise cancellation depending on façade installation.

ACP is available in 3mm, 4mm & 6mm thickness, offering several colors and textures in sheet form of sizes Width: 2000mm – 4000mm / length: 2000mm – 6000mm.

Applications

● Exterior Application – Façade cladding, Canopies, Overhangs as a roofing material.

● Interior Application – Wall Panels, False Ceiling, Shutters for cupboards & wardrobes, even for Modular Kitchens, Countertops, column covers and more.

● Other Applications – Shopfront, Signage, Nameboards, Kiosks, Totems etc.

Things to Remember when using ACP

·          Aluminum panels are highly durable but are prone to dents during harsh weather such as hurricanes and storms.

·     Although ACPs are water resistance & mold proof, it’s important to seal and install the panel to offer a barrier against air and water.

Brands to Look out - Eurobond, AluDecor, Alutech, Alucobond.


HIGH  PRESSURE  LAMINATES

High-Pressure Laminates (HPL) are high-quality surface finishes that offer excellent performance with a uniform composition, allowing for easy fabrication and maintenance. HPL are resilient and one of the most durable materials with a one-sided decorative surface with a plethora of aesthetic options.

HPL Cladding 

Now, how is HPL made?

High-Pressure laminates are made of decorative, absorbent kraft paper which is impregnated with melamine and phenolic resins. These layers of paper are pressed to harden under heat and high pressure to achieve a very compact composite sheet.

Composition illustration from Merino High-Pressure Laminate

Features

HPL panels offer pastel color scale, natural wood designs and metallic finish. HPL panels have a protective coating of double hardened acrylic polyurethane resins protecting against extreme weather conditions.

● HPL has a high tensile strength which makes it resistant to mechanical damage & impact resistant.

● Stain Resistance: Owing to its non-porous and easy to clean properties, it is resistant to marks, smudges, and stains.

● Scratch Resistance: the tough surface protects against scratches especially from varying pressures of everyday use.

● Moisture Resistance: keeping the condition intact for long.

● Special performance properties include chemical, fire, and wear resistance.

HPL is available in thickness range of 6mm, 8mm, 10mm and panel size of 2440mm x 1220mm / 3050mm x 1220mm / selected variants of 1300 x 3050mm.

Applications

● Exterior Application – Façade cladding, Balcony casing, Roofing, Soffits, Louvers, Railing,

● Other Applications – Fencing, Signage, Shopfronts, Gates etc.

Brands to Look out - Merino, Alstone, Samrat, Eurobond, Fundermax.


When it comes to façade designing high-quality material is a prerequisite. You want to make a conscious material selection that the meets extreme requirement. To clarify all questions on material choices, Download our App ARKIHIVE. We are now live on the Playstore & iOS!

As creators, Designers and Architects you can explore materials and find Vendors to enquiry and get multiple quotes on material and make an informed decision.

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Anusha Ashok

I believe only art can change the world! Although, I constantly critique the design approach & in dispute with my belief. But usually found having tea & listening to Coldplay.