Limitations of Insulated Metal Panels

Insulated metal panels have been an increas­ing­ly popular building material over the last ten years. This is due to the fact that they are rel­a­tive­ly easy to install, offer sig­nif­i­cant energy effi­cien­cy savings, and come with a lifespan up to sixty years. Yet that does not mean that insulated metal panels – or IMPs, for short – don’t come with their own set of unique drawbacks.

Insulated Metal Panels Problems

Before selecting IMPs as a building material, it is important that you have a full under­stand­ing of the lim­i­ta­tions which they pose. Otherwise, you may find yourself faced with unan­tic­i­pat­ed problems down the line. This article will help to post your knowledge of IMPs by dis­cussing three potential problems to be aware of.

Corrosion Caused By Fasteners

Insulated metal panels are widely lauded for their ease of instal­la­tion. This has a lot to do with the fact that the panels sit atop one another and lock into place using a tongue and groove style system. Each sub­se­quent panel is hoisted up using special suction lifting equipment, then tilted into place. Once the panel is sitting plumb and square on top the one below it, it is locked into place using self-tapping Tek-style fasteners – also known as self-drilling screws.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, these fasteners are the cause of many IMP related woes. The problem is that, unless you select fasteners made from an appro­pri­ate type of metal for the panels you are using, you may end up dealing with destruc­tive corrosion as time goes on. For instance, aluminum IMPs are highly vul­ner­a­ble to corrosion if attached using fasteners made of gal­va­nized steel. Making this mistake can severely impact the struc­tur­al stability of a building moving forward. A good general rule for pre­vent­ing corrosion is to always select fasteners made from the same material as the IMP wall system.

Deformation In Hot Climates

One of the attrac­tive features of insulated metal panels is the fact that they can be man­u­fac­tured in a wide array of colors and hues. While this is a great thing from an aesthetic stand­point, it can lead to serious problems where struc­tur­al stability is concerned. The worry here is greatest for those who are building in an espe­cial­ly hot or cold climate – one, in other words, where there will be a sig­nif­i­cant tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­en­tial between the inner and outer faces of the panels.

Consider a building located in a peren­ni­al­ly hot climate. The outside of the panels, being exposed to the heat of the sun for many, many hours a day, will naturally absorb a good deal of heat. The inner face, on the other hand, because it is closer the building’s air con­di­tioned interior, will remain much cooler. If the dif­fer­ence between the two sides becomes great enough, it can cause the panel to undergo mechan­i­cal stresses, bowing, warping, or becoming otherwise deformed.

The risk of such defor­ma­tion has a direct cor­re­la­tion to the color of the IMPs being used. Dark colors will absorb a much greater amount of heat, thus inten­si­fy­ing the problem and poten­tial­ly over­stress­ing the panels. Lighter colors will reflect more solar radiation, helping to minimize this tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­en­tial. It is therefore vital that the color of the IMPs to be used be thor­ough­ly vetted by struc­tur­al design professional.

Air And Moisture Penetration

In theory, con­struct­ing a wall out of insulated metal panels may appear to be a virtual – and even a literal – snap. Yet the mechanics of con­nect­ing one panel to another are not quite so simple. Careless instal­la­tion can easily result in the mis­align­ment of adjacent panels. Even a rel­a­tive­ly tiny error in this regard can allow moisture and air to penetrate to the inner side of the panel, where they can cause a wide array of problems. Thus it is necessary that those respon­si­ble for installing the IMP wall possess a thorough knowledge of panel placement and alignment.

For more infor­ma­tion about the potential drawbacks of insulated metal panels, feel free to contact the knowl­edge­able experts at Bautex™.