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™.