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.

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™.