Rainscreen cladding has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last decade or so, evinced by the large numbers of colourful and intriguingly patterned buildings springing up in our towns, cities and even our more industrialised areas. Although there are undoubtedly aesthetic benefits to rainscreen cladding, it is the protective properties of these cladding products that has given rise to their success.
Before Rainscreen Cladding…
Before rainscreen cladding, it was entirely the responsibility of the exterior wall to defend the interior of a property from the elements. However, traditional building materials, such as brick, stone or timber, can only do so much. These materials deteriorate over time or can be damaged by structural movement, and, because they are integral to the structure of the building, are expensive, time consuming and inconvenient to repair or replace.
The Advantages of Rainscreen Cladding
The advantage of rainscreen cladding is that it is, to all intents and purposes, a separate element. As such it is relatively easy to maintain and, if necessary, repair or replace. Because it doesn’t face the same structural demands as the building itself, rainscreen cladding can be manufactured from a range of materials, each of which brings its own physical and/or aesthetic advantages. Materials include:
- Decorative fibre cement boards
- High-pressure laminates
- Stone aggregates
- Fibre glass composites
- Aluminium composites
As well as protecting buildings from the damage that can be caused by unwanted moisture, from mould and mildew to more structurally detrimental effects, rainscreen cladding also helps insulate buildings. Air pressure differentials and thermal differentials over the height of the building cause the air in the cavity to circulate, cooling the inner layers of the construction in warm weather, thus reducing the need for carbon-greedy cooling systems.
The cavity between the rainscreen cladding and the construction is the perfect place to install thermal insulation materials to keep the building warm in colder weather and also offers an opportunity to reduce the risk of fire by installing fire barriers and intumescent cavity closers.
How Rainscreen Cladding Works
Not only does rainscreen cladding protect against rain and wind, it effectively uses wind to defend against the rain. Ventilated cavities in the rainscreen cladding use wind pressure to dissipate the energy of the wind driven rain, dispersing the water down specifically designed drainage paths and away from the building itself.