Backup to the Future: Benefits of Backup Wall Systems

Beauty is More Than Skin-Deep

The most basic requirement of any building is to keep the elements out – while keeping comfortable conditions in. Those elements can be relentless – from bitterly cold wind, snow, sleet and ice to ferocious heat and torrential rain. It’s no wonder buildings have historically been clad in multiple layers to combat these different forces. For centuries, those multiple layers have done the job adequately. But advances in manufacturing, materials and technology have completely changed the game, and you can take advantage of all of it with backup wall systems from MBCI.

A Package Deal

Like insulated metal panels (IMPs), backup walls combine air barrier, vapor barrier, moisture control and insulation into an all-in-one product. The key difference between IMPs and backup walls is that while IMPs function as the rainscreen or façade, MBCI’s backup walls are designed to work with the rainscreen or façade of your choice.

Instead of relying on three or four different contractors to install insulation, Zs, sub girts, air/vapor barriers and sheathing, one worker can install backup walls in one simple step. This has shifted construction standards in cost savings, sustainability and design integrity in ways with which traditional walls simply can’t compete. It’s hard to justify the scheduling and liability hassles of traditional backup wall construction when you could more quickly and reliably weather-in a building with a backup wall system.

Alleviating Headaches

Backup walls eliminate a number of common headaches from the jobsite. There’s no longer a need for multiple crews to work in turn on the cladding, and likewise no need for conventional batt or board insulation, exterior gypsum, air barriers, vapor retarders or building wraps. That’s a sizeable amount of material, subcontractors and coordination suddenly off your plate. Better yet, the expedited close-in/dry-in times mean interior trades can move in and get started sooner.

Façade Freedom

Backup walls are a virtually unbeatable solution for all building types in all climates. MBCI’s Backup Walls are made of foamed-in-place polyisocyanurate with two steel skins, offering strength, durability and a superior drain plane – all in one foolproof, easily installed product. Once the backup walls are installed, you can choose nearly any type of rainscreen or façade you like, from brick and metal to terracotta, ACM and stucco. A popular design choice is an aesthetically pleasing combination of facades. For instance, a public-facing part of a building might be clad in handsome brick or stone, while the obscured sides and rear are clad in IMP’s or something more economical.

Insulation Domination

Traditional multi-component walls with continuous insulation require supplemental Z steel framing to convey wind load from the rainscreen to the supports, causing a loss in thermal performance and condensation potential in the cavity. The all-in-one structural construction and enclosed system of backup walls eliminates this problem and makes for better thermal performance. Another often-overlooked concern, air infiltration is addressed in MBCI’s Backup Wall Systems by providing a continuous air barrier via a formed metal liner with a combination of field- and factory-applied sealants. In fact, MBCI’s Backup Walls achieve U-Factors that exceed the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) energy performance requirements based on tests in accordance with ASTM C1363. They also offer outstanding fire resistance, meeting requirements of the NFPA 285 multi-story fire test.

Making the Right Choice

Depending on your ultimate end-goals for design and practicality, either the BW Universal System™ or the BW Stretch System™ will suit your needs best. BW Universal covers two-foot spans, is installed horizontally, and can accommodate nearly any rainscreen or façade with horizontal or vertical rainscreen rails, panel clips or brick ties. BW Universal is often chosen for more architecturally driven projects due to its compatibility with any façade. The BW Stretch System’s primary differentiating characteristic is its ability to cover up to six-foot spans. BW Stretch is compatible with several rainscreens, though it’s not a good match for masonry.

BW
BW Universal System™ (left) and BW Stretch System™ (right)

Though BW Stretch is installed vertically, and BW Universal is installed horizontally, MBCI product manager Jennifer Franz clarified that “Some people think that means the facade can only be installed horizontally or vertically. That is not the case. Either one can have horizontal or vertical facades.” Franz also pointed out that rainscreens and facades often have their own span requirements, which designers should be aware of before making final decisions. “The BW Stretch System can span up to six feet,” she said, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rainscreen or façade you put in front of it can. The façade may still dictate a lot of the capabilities of the wall. You need to understand the capabilities of the facade as well as the BW panels.”

Get Started

Whichever system you choose, you’ll receive a weathertight 10-year warranty. But you’ll also receive so much more in terms of time and money saved, hassles avoided, and peace of mind gained. When you’re ready to learn more about MBCI Backup Wall Systems, simply get in touch with your representative. We’ll be happy to help – and you’ll be happy you reached out.

Project Services for Metal Buildings and Roofing: Part 1

When a metal building or metal roofing project is being developed, it all starts with a design by an architect or engineer that may be rather standard, very custom, or somewhere in between. At some point a price for the metal portion of that design is requested from the contractor (i.e. an erector or sub-contractor to a general contractor) and of course that means turning to the metal building or roofing manufacturer for help.  Toward that end, MBCI offers a complete range of project services designed to streamline everything that needs to happen next in order to genuinely make life much easier for the contractor.

Project Services Part

What are these services? Essentially, there are four:

  • Estimating and price quoting services for public or private bids
  • Engineering services for the metal building systems involved
  • Drafting services for creation of shop drawings and erection drawings
  • Overall project management of all of the above plus coordination of production, shipping, and delivery.

The key to the success of these services is the assignment of a project manager who acts as the single point of contact between the contractor and the manufacturer throughout the entire project. Having a relationship with a metal building manufacturer who can assign such a project manager right up front is a huge benefit to the contractor. Here’s how the process might work in a standard project:

Cost Quote: The project manager will use the architectural drawings (submitted by the contractor) to have the project services team generate a lump sum price. That price is limited specifically to the metal building or roofing package with a clear description of what is included and what is not. That allows the contractor to develop the remaining costs for labor and equipment to erect the metal building along with any separate project costs as appropriate.

Detailed Drawings: Assuming the contractor is selected to proceed with the work, then an agreement on full project services can be made. Based on the architectural and/or engineering drawings, the project manager will then arrange for the detailed shop drawings to be prepared (including engineering stamp or seal if needed) so they can be submitted to the architect for review and approval. Note, that this will be a requirement of the manufacturer as well since they will not do take-offs from other people’s drawings for their manufactured systems. The shop drawings will notate all of the required components necessary to install and MBCI will order plus deliver all items required upon request/approval.

Scheduling and Production: Once all of the drawings are approved, then a full production schedule can be prepared with delivery dates identified. The project manager will oversee and coordinate the various people involved to see that things are progressing as planned and intervene as needed if any changes come up from the architect, owner, contractor, or manufacturer.

Delivery and Installation: When ready, the metal building package can be prepared and delivered according to the contractor’s schedule. Full erection drawings will be included which have enough detail that they are a virtual “instruction manual” for putting the building together.

That’s the typical process. In our next blog post, we will discuss the many reasons that contractors are taking advantage of these project services to save them time, money, and hassle. In the meantime, to find out more about how to successfully work together with MBCI, contact your local MBCI representative.

Standard Testing for Metal Roofing – Part 1: Structural Performance and Uplift Resistance

When selecting a metal roofing product, there is an expectation that it will perform as intended over the life of the building. But what assures building owners, code officials, or design professionals that a product will in fact perform as promised? This question often comes up in building product discussions and the accepted way to answer it is to subject the products to physical testing. The type of testing is usually very specific to the product based on protocols and procedures developed by independent agencies such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), ASTM International, or others. Manufacturers typically submit their products to independent testing labs who follow these standard test procedures. Once testing has concluded, they report the results back to the manufacturer. These results then show whether the product meets stated performance criteria or not. If not, the manufacturer can re-design and re-test until it does and then make the final results available to the public.

For metal roofing, a series of relevant and important tests are typically performed. In this blog, we will look at two of them related to structural performance and wind uplift.

ASTM E1592

The structural integrity of metal roofing is crucial given the various natural forces that can be imposed on the materials. Effects from wind, snow, or other conditions can compromise its integrity. Accordingly, the ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings (including sub-committee E06.57 on Performance of Metal Roof Systems) has developed ASTM E1592 “Standard Test Method for Structural Performance of Sheet Metal Roof and Siding Systems by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference”. While the standard acknowledges the use of computation (i.e. calculations) to determine the basic structural capacity of most metal products, it also points out that some conditions are outside of the scope of computational analysis and hence need to be tested.

The standard describes a test method with “optional apparatus and procedures for use in evaluating the structural performance of a given (metal) system for a range of support spacings or for confirming the structural performance of a specific installation”. As such, it is very specific both to metal roofing and its installation. This test method uses imposed air pressure not to look at air leakage but simply to determine structural reactions. It consists of three steps:

1. Sealing the test specimen into or against one face of a test chamber

2. Supplying air to, or exhausting air from, the chamber at the rate required to maintain the test pressure difference across the specimen

3. Observing, measuring, and recording the deflection, deformations, and nature of any failures of principal or critical elements of the panel profile or members of the anchor system

The test needs to be performed with enough variation to produce a load deformation curve of the metal and account for typical edge restraint (fastening) representative of field conditions.

Manufacturers need to submit different products that are tested at least once at two different span lengths between supports. Standing seam roof panels are typically tested at a 5’-0” and 1’-0” span. Spans between the two tested spans can be interpolated. The result is a table of tested loading results that can be compared to code required or engineered design loading to then determine if the selected material and spacing are adequate for the project needs or if another product or spacing is needed.

MBCI's metal roofing products undergo a series of tests to ensure maximum resistance and performance.
MBCI’s metal roofing products undergo a series of tests to ensure maximum resistance and performance.

UL 580

The ASTM E1592 test is focused on the structural integrity of metal panels. It also uses positive and negative air pressure in a static (i.e. non-moving) condition to determine performance. There is also a separate concern about how metal roofing will perform in a dynamic condition as would be expected in a windy condition where wind gusts can ebb and flow erratically. In that regard, a separate test developed jointly between Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) looks at the ability of roofing to resist being blown off a building due to wind. Known as ANSI/UL 580 “Standard for Tests for Uplift Resistance of Roof Assemblies”, it has become the recognized means to identify and classify the suitability of roofing for different wind conditions – low to high.

This test is also specific in its scope and intent stating that it “evaluates the roof deck, its attachment to supports, and roof covering materials”. It also points out that it is not intended to test special roof conditions, main or secondary structural supports, or deterioration of roofing. The standard prescribes in considerable detail the type of test chamber that needs to be constructed and used for the testing which includes three sections: “a top section to create a uniform vacuum, a center section in which the roof assembly (i.e. deck, attachment, and roofing) is constructed, and a bottom section to create uniform positive pressure”. The test procedure is then based on placing the roof assembly into the test chamber and subjecting it to a prescribed sequence of 5 phases of oscillating positive and negative pressure cycles (simulating dynamic wind conditions) over 80 minutes of total testing.

There are four wind uplift classifications obtainable for a tested assembly based on the test assembly retaining its attachment, integrity and without any permanent damage. These include Class 15, Class 30, Class 60, and Class 90. Each class has its own requirements for test pressures with increasing pressure as the class number increases. Higher class numbers indicate increasing levels of wind uplift resistance. Note, that to obtain a Class 60 rating, the tested assembly must pass the Class 30 test then be immediately subjected to the Class 60 test sequence. Similarly, to obtain a Class 90 rating, the tested assembly must first pass both the Class 30 and 60 tests. Metal roofing manufacturers who want their roofing products tested and classified under UL 580 must pair them with standard roof deck and fastening materials. Hence most have many different tests performed and results reported accordingly.

When reviewing metal roofing options, it is comforting to know that most manufacturers have tested their products and designed them to meet or exceed minimum requirements. To find out more about tested results of products you may be considering, contact your local MBCI representative or see the MBCI website and select the “testing” tab under a selected product.

Sealing the Deal: The Importance of Properly Sealing the Building Envelope Using IMPs and Single-Skin Panels

The primary purpose of a building’s envelope (roof and walls) is to protect the building’s interior spaces from the exterior environment and provide the desired exterior aesthetics. Whether choosing insulated metal panels (IMPs) for their superior performance or, instead, looking to the wide range of aesthetic choices available with single-skin panels—or some combination of the two—the common goal must always be to protect the building from the potential ravages of water, air, vapor, and thermal/heat. By ensuring proper installation of metal panels and, thereby, properly sealing the building envelope, problems can be mitigated, efficiencies maximized, and the integrity of the building protected.

Here, we’ll briefly consider the benefits of each panel, and some key considerations relative to their sealant needs and capabilities.

Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs)

IMPs are lightweight, composite exterior wall and roof panels that have metal skins and an insulating foam core. They have superior insulating properties, excellent spanning capabilities, and shorter installation time and cost savings due to the all-in-one insulation and cladding. In effect, IMPs serve as an all-in-one air and water barrier, and are an excellent option for retrofits and new construction. With their continuous insulation, roof and wall IMPs provide performance and durability, as well as many aesthetic benefits.

IMPs offer excellent R-value and improve energy efficiency to the building envelope.
IMPs offer excellent R-value and improve energy efficiency to the building envelope.

Generally speaking, because of the nature of the joinery, it is easier to get a good seal in place with IMPs given their relative simplicity (i.e., putting the two pieces together with the sealant). They require great attention, though, in terms of air and vapor sealing—aspects largely controlled by the installers on a given project. As an example, vapor sealing in cold climates or applications is critical to the overall soundness of a building. Consider the damage a building could incur if moisture seeps into a panel and becomes trapped; it if freezes, it could push panels out of alignment. This would result in not just an unattractive aesthetic, but a performance failure as well. In order to be effective, all sealant and caulking must be fully continuous.

Single-Skin Panels

Single-skin panels, alternatively, offer the advantage of an expansive array of colors, textures and profiles. They are also thought to have more “sophisticated” aesthetics than IMPs. Single-skin panels are available in both concealed fastener and exposed fastener varieties, and are part of an assembly. They can be used alone or in combination with IMPs, and as long as the needed insulation is incorporated, single-skin panels can meet technical and code requirements, depending on the application. Single-skin products offer a wide range of metal roof systems and wall systems as well.

Getting the proper seal on single-skin panels may require extra sealants or closures, and have more parts and pieces that have to come together to create the seal. However, when properly installed and sealed, they can provide excellent performance in their own right. Some key caveats include ensuring panel laps are properly sealed with either tape or gun butyl sealants, and carefully inspecting air and water barriers for proper installation as well as penetrations through the wall for sealing/fire caulking prior to panel.

In most cases, following the details for the most common conditions will give you a successful and high-performing outcome.

Regardless of the type of metal panel used, taking the time and effort to ensure the sealing and caulking details are properly handled, metal buildings can protect the built environment and provide long-lasting quality and performance.

Fire Resistance for Insulated Metal Panels

When it comes to understanding fire ratings for wall panels on buildings, one of the first things to overcome is incorrect information or misunderstanding that sometimes emerges around this topic. In an effort to achieve some greater clarity, let’s look at some of the basics of fire resistance ratings, particularly for insulated metal panels (IMPs).

Building Code Requirements

The fundamental reason that any wall needs to provide some degree of fire resistance is to allow people enough time to safely evacuate from a space or building in the event of a fire, or to prevent the spread of fire between defined areas or whole structures. Building and fire codes have been developed and adopted, in part, specifically to define the situations, building types, conditions and circumstances where different degrees of fire resistance are required to protect the public health, safety and welfare. Therefore, when looking at a specific building and the fire resistance ratings required, the applicable codes must be consulted and the proper determination made regarding the minimum fire resistance requirements for the different exterior and interior walls of that building.

Ratings-Based on Testing

The established means for knowing whether or not a wall meets a particular fire resistance rating is based on conducting a fire test in an independent laboratory. For IMPs, that means a manufacturer needs to submit full-size product samples to a laboratory such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), which will then prepare and carry out the test according to standard, agreed-upon procedures such as ANSI/UL 263, “Standard for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials.” The procedures dictated by a standard such as this are intended to be the same for all similarly tested materials or products to determine the actual fire resistance rating for each. When the products are subjected to the prescribed heat and flame under uniform laboratory conditions, then they can be classified based on how well they performed. Some products, for example, may survive the test long enough to qualify for a 1- or 2-hour rating, while others may only qualify for a 30-minute rating before succumbing to the fire.

Urology Medical Office Building MBCI
The Urology Medical Office Building in Virginia Beach, Virginia utilizes 7.2 Insul-Rib® and CF Architectural – Horizontal insulated metal panels. View the product data sheets for these products for information on their fire resistance ratings.

Selecting Products

In creating or renovating a building, then, it is incumbent on the design and construction team to choose products and materials that have a proven, tested fire rating that meets or exceeds the building code requirements for the particular building at hand. If a manufacturer of IMPs has been identified ahead of time, then it may be possible to ask for evidence of the UL or similar test to prove that the selected product or assembly meets the code requirements. But many times, there is a need to first determine the requirements, and then look for the available products and manufacturers who can provide the needed fire resistance. Fortunately, UL maintains an online directory of all of the products that they have tested and certified. Their online certifications directory allows users to input selected criteria to search for specific result reports. Using this resource for IMPs, the UL Category Code of BXUV and the UL File Number of U050 should be entered to do a search. This will yield a summary list referencing the ANSU/UL263 test with a link to the BXUV.U050 test report for IMPs. There you will see under item 2: “Metal faced panels, nominal 42 in. wide by nominal 4 in. thick (for the 1 Hour Rating) nominal 7 in. thick (for the 2 Hour Rating) or nominal 8 in. thick (for the 3 hour rating) installed vertically or horizontally. Panels supplied factory double tongue and grove joint.” This lets the design and construction know that 1-, 2-, or 3-hour ratings are available depending on the thickness of the IMP and given that the factory joint is provided. Hence, the manufacturer can label their products accordingly.

By specifying and selecting the proper products that have been correctly tested and certified, then building code compliance is not only streamlined, the building will meet the inherent fire and safety requirements for the people who will occupy it.

For fire resistance information on MBCI panels, please review the product data sheets.

Combatting Thermal Bridging with Insulated Metal Panels

When using compressible insulation, say for instance fiberglass batt, consideration must be given to how that insulation is going to be deployed in the actual wall or roof. For instance, installers might place the insulation across the framing members and then smash it down with the cladding and run a screw through to the underlying structure. The problem here is that the insulation is rated with some R-value—and that R-value is determined by an ASTM procedure that also determines what its tested density is. So in essence, it’s ‘fluffy’ insulation.

One manufacturer’s insulation, however, might be thicker than another’s. The contractor is buying an R-value, not a density or a thickness. The insulation is tested to that R-value at whatever thickness and density¹ is needed to achieve it. Let’s say R-19 fiberglass batt is specified, but then it is put in an assembly and smashed down flat… now it’s not R-19 anymore; it’s now R-something else. That’s a thermal bridge—when the insulation’s R-value has been compromised.

Manufacturers have the ability to run long length panels that minimize the number of end joints. This continuity provides significant advantages over traditional insulated materials when designing for energy efficiency. This image illustrates the difference between fiberglass batting made discontinuous by compression between panel and framing members and the continuous insulation provided by insulated metal panels.

Unfortunately, thermal bridging is almost impossible to eliminate. In the example above, another choice might be to put it between studs. Except in this situation, the studs break the insulation. While it’s not pinched, the studs are separating it. Whether the studs are metal or wood, in either case it’s still a significant thermal short circuit or a thermal bridge.

Even with the highest quality insulation systems—insulated metal panels, for example—a joint is required. Building is not possible without putting neighboring panels together. Therefore, insulation is discontinuous. While it’s impossible to avoid thermal bridging, there are two requirements to ensure the building performs the way it needs to perform.

  1. Thermal bridging must be mitigated. In other words, the designer or installer has to try to eliminate as much of it as possible.
  2. If thermal bridging is unavoidable, it must be accounted for in some fashion, which usually means putting more insulation somewhere to make up the difference. This is called a “trade-off” and is allowed by most building energy efficiency codes.²

Why Insulated Metal Panels?

Insulated metal panels then are the best bet, because although the joint is a thermal bridge, in effect, it is not nearly as impactful as breaking a line of fiberglass with a stud or smashing the fiberglass between the panel and a framing member. In the illustration below, R-value doesn’t just vary at that point where the panel and the stud meet. The entire insulation line gets smashed and one would have to go some distance from the stud before the insulation returns to its normal, fluffy thickness. These issues need to be mitigated and accounted for.

assembled side joint
Continuous insulation is critically important to an efficient envelope design. Insulated metal panels, with their side laps designed for concealed fasteners, eliminate the possibility of gaps in the insulation and thermal bridges. Continuous insulation is important because thermal bridges and discontinuities introduced by compressing non-rigid insulations cause the in-place R-Value of the assembly to be less than the tested R-Value of the insulation used. This effect has become a focus in newer energy efficiency codes such as ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC.

Manufacturers such as MBCI and Metl-Span publish insulated metal panels as U-factors because the joint is tested as part of the assembly (both mitigating and accounting for the aforementioned issues). These values can be found on product data sheets and technical bulletins, such as Metl-Span’s Insulation Values technical bulletin, published January 2017.

References

  1. ASTM C 665 – 12, Standard Specification for Mineral-Fiber Blanket Thermal Insulation for Light Frame Construction and Manufactured Housing, Table 1, Footnote c.
  2. ASHRAE 90.1 – 13, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Ride Residential Buildings, Section 5.6
  3. High Performance Green Building Products – INSMP2A (CEU)

Beauty and Braun: The Benefits of Mixing Insulated Metal Panels with Single-Skin Panels in Commercial Design

Commercial projects aren’t one size fits all. By bringing in metal panel products to suit the individual need, designers and architects can provide custom solutions for a variety of applications. Single-skin metal panels and insulated metal panels (IMPs), if used correctly, can together add both aesthetic and functional value to your projects.

While IMPs can provide superior performance with regard to water control, air control, vapor control and thermal control, you may sometimes find your project requires—from an aesthetic perspective—the greater range of choices available in single-skin profiles. Let’s spend a little time looking at some of the reasons behind the growing trend of specifying a combination of insulated metal and single-skin panels.

Benefits of Insulated Metal Panels

Insulated metal panels are lightweight, composite exterior wall and roof panels that have metal skins and an insulating foam core. Their much-touted benefits include:

  • Superior insulating properties
  • Excellent spanning capabilities
  • Insulation and cladding all in one, which often equates to a shorter installation time and cost savings

Benefits of Single Skin

Single-skin panels, on the other hand, with their expansive array of colors, textures and profiles, may have more sophisticated aesthetics. They can be used on their own or in combination with IMPs. It should be noted, too, that single-skin panels can—in their own right (as long as the necessary insulation is incorporated) —satisfy technical and code requirements, depending on the application.

Beyond aesthetics, when it comes to design options, single-skin products offer a wide range of metal roof systems, including standing seam roof panel, curved, and even through-fastened systems. As for wall systems, those may include concealed fastened panels, interior wall and liner panels, and even canopies and soffits, not to mention exposed fastened systems. Therefore, you have a wide range of not only aesthetics options but VE (Value Engineering) options as well.

Why Mix?

So, in what situations might the designer or architect choose to combine the two panel types? Let’s examine a couple of specific scenarios related to the automotive or self-storage worlds as a means of illustration. In both of these types of applications, it is not uncommon for the designer to recognize the importance of wanting to keep the “look” of the building consistent with branding or to bring in other design elements.

Coalville Wastewater Treatment Facility
The Coalville Wastewater Treatment Facility in Logan, Utah combines the insulated CFR panel with the single-skin Artison L-12 panel.

Single-skin panels can be used as a rain screen system in the front of the building or over the office area, and would provide the greater number of design options. In the rest of the building, designers can take advantage of the strength, durability and insulation benefits of IMPs. Although you could use one or the other for these examples, the advantage of mixing the two would be achieving a certain look afforded by the profiles of single-skin, while still adhering to stringent building codes and reducing installation time—which is the practical part of using IMPs.

Focus on HPCI IMP Systems

One great example of a current trend we’re seeing at MBCI is the use of the HPCI-barrier IMP system, along with single-skin panels. The High Performance Continuous Insulation (HPCI) system is a single system that is a practical and effective replacement for the numerous barrier components found in traditional building envelopes.

HPCI Insulated Metal Panels
The HPCI Insulated Metal Panel is quick and easy to install and provides an economical solution to conventional air, water, thermal and vapor control without sacrificing thermal efficiency.

A big benefit to using the HPCI system is that the barrier wall is already in place. In terms of schedule, the HPCI barrier system is typically installed by contractors who are also installing the single-skin system, eliminating the need for multiple work crews, and thereby minimizing construction debris and reducing the likelihood of improper installation. With a general lead time of four to six weeks for the HPCI and a week or two for the single-skin, the installation goes fairly quickly. Therefore, it appeals as the best of all worlds—a single system meeting air, water, thermal and vapor codes (ex.: IBC 2016, NSTA fire standards) plus the design flexibility of a single-skin rain screen product. (Note: The HPCI panel must be separated from the interior of the building by an approved thermal barrier of 0.5″ (12.7mm) gypsum wallboard to meet IBC requirements.)

Bottom line, HPCI design features and benefits include the following:

• Provides air, water, thermal and vapor barrier in one step
• Allows you to use multiple façade options while maintaining thermal efficiency
• Easy and fast installation, with reduced construction and labor costs

Conclusion

As designers, architects and owners are getting smarter about a “fewer steps, smarter dollars” concept and an increased awareness of applicable codes and standards, not to mention lifecycle costs, the trend towards maximizing the strengths of available systems will continue to grow. Whether the right choice is an IMP system, single-skin or some combination, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Selecting Metal Panels Based on Roof Slope

If you’re reading this article, then you are probably already aware that metal roofing can provide many benefits, including longevity, durability and water shedding—not to mention the aesthetic features of today’s metal roof products. When specifying a metal roof system, choosing the correct panel is a key factor. Roof slope is critical in determining that choice. Let’s take a look at some of the main things to consider when choosing a metal roof panel with regard to roof slope, including building codes, minimum slope requirements and typical applications.

Building Codes

Building codes are perhaps the most important driving force dictating the roof slope to choose. Different types of roofs have distinct specifications for installation. According to the 2012 International Building Code (1507.4.2 Deck slope), minimum slopes for roof panels need to comply with the following:

  1. The minimum slope for lapped, non-soldered seam metal roofs without applied lap sealant shall be three units vertical in 12 units horizontal (25-percent slope).
  2. The minimum slope for lapped, non-soldered seam metal roofs with applied lap sealant shall be one-half unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (4-percent slope). Lap sealants shall be applied in accordance with the approved manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  3. The minimum slope for standing seam of roof systems shall be one-quarter unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (2-percent slope).

Minimum Roof Slope Requirements

Depending on the roof profile, there are minimum roof slope requirements for each panel, which need to be considered. The profile refers to the shape the metal sheets take when they bend to form panels. Metal roof slope is expressed by a ratio indicating the roof pitch, which notes the vertical rise of the roof (in inches) for every 12 inches the roof runs horizontally—in other words, dividing the vertical rise and its horizontal span. The most common slopes are: 3:12, 1/2:12 and 1/4:12. When looking at metal roofing panel, you will need to consult with the manufacturer to ensure that the metal panel you selected will work for your application.

MBCI Roof Panels and Minimum Slopes

Applications: Low Slope or Steep Slope

Commercial Application– Low Slope Roofs

A low-slope roof is one whose slope is less than 3:12. Low slope roofs have several benefits. They have simpler geometry that is often much less expensive to construct and low slope metal roofs require fewer materials than a steep slope, which reduce material costs. Metal roofing panels are excellent solutions for roofs with low slopes. Commercial roofs are typically low slope (less than a 3:12 slope), and larger than residential roofs. This is due to low slope metal roofs being a bit easier to build on large structures.

1/2:12 Metal Roof Slope
Cecilia Junior High in Cecilia, Louisiana uses 7,180 sq. ft. of MBCI’s SuperLok®. This panel requires a minimum slope of 1/2:12.
Residential Application– Steep Slope Roofs

A steep slope roof is one whose slope is greater than 3:12. Steeper slopes are ideal for areas that have higher snow loads and will also prevent the possibility of ponding water on the roof. When it comes to residential construction, your roof is a visible part of the structure. Choosing a metal roof for residential construction involves choosing a panel profile that will be aesthetically pleasing.

Steel Slope Metal Roof
It is common to use steep slopes in residential applications, such as this home in Guntersville, Alabama that utilizes MBCI’s LokSeam® (requiring minimum slope of 3:12).

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you’re choosing metal panels for a commercial or residential structure, slope matters. Following common standards, doing your research and paying attention to manufacturer guidelines regarding minimum slope will ensure you’re reaping the full benefit of your metal panel selection.

For More Information

To learn more about metal roof slopes, check out:

A Storehouse of Storage Solutions

With more than an estimated 54,000 storage units spread across the U.S. in 2015, according to IBISWorld, and 2.63 billion square feet of existing rentable self-storage space in 2014, the self-storage industry is booming. In fact, U.S. storage facility revenue topped off at an estimated $29.8 billion in 2014, rising to $31 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $32.7 billion in 2016. In this growing market, storage builders and facility owners face increased competition and must build and maintain more efficiently and effectively than ever. Metal panels can be a differentiator for this market, especially through multi-story and climate controlled storage facilities.

MBCI Self Storage
Southlake Self Storage in Weatherford, Tex. is a multi-story storage facility utilizing MBCI’s PBU, PBD and PBR metal panels.

Maximizing Sustainable, Rentable Space

Among the cladding and roofing materials available to build these specialized facilities, insulated metal panels (IMPs) are highly energy efficient, deliver a full weather barrier and can be designed without exterior wall framing. This boosts rentable square footage by eliminating exterior wall framing typically built with studs, batt insulation, and liner panels.

Made from 90 percent closed foam, encapsulated inside of two metal panels and impervious to water, IMPs offer a high R-value, which is a big benefit for all storage types, particularly cold storage facilities. Steel panel facings create a vapor barrier and provide long-term thermal stability, virtually eliminating off-gassing found with rigid board insulation. IMPs give design professionals the opportunity to design functional, attractive, sustainable storage facilities, and facility owners the opportunity to lower construction, operating, energy consumption, and maintenance costs throughout the life span of a building.

As an all-in-one air solution—delivering an air, vapor and water barrier with continuous insulation—building teams can strip down the multiple trades to one single application. This means there are no gaps or voids to sap thermal value, and no degradation by air or moisture. Furthermore, IMPs are the most efficient product available, providing an R-value of 7 to 8 per inch vs. the 4.5 for batt insulation, essentially doubling performance. So not only do building teams come away with a thermally superior product, but the IMP storage facility will meet increasing continuous insulation code requirements, such as those mandated by ASHRAE 90.1.

Of course, increasing rentable square footage is one of the biggest draws about IMPs for building owners as those extra four to six inches on the perimeter go straight to the bottom line.

A Modern Style for Storage

Evolving from the standard-looking, plain boxes, today’s storage facilities are taking on a more architectural look to better blend into the office complexes, residential communities and retail complexes surrounding them.

With a variety of high-performance coatings, colors, reveal joints and corrugated sheets with assorted patterns, IMPs offer a large selection of design options to architects looking to create these more trendy designs.

Metal Panels for Self-Storage Buildings
A-AAAKey Mini Storage in utilizes modern colors with 55,000 sq. ft. of MBCI’s Ultra-Dek® metal roof panels.

“The calculated use of smooth, concealed-fastener panels harkens to contemporary design styles with an eye toward the future,” states Ryan Rogers, managing partner, RHW Capital Management Group, Orange, Calif., in an Aug. 2016 issue of Inside Self-Storage. “This can create the perception of innovation and dynamism, communicating to customers that your facility is on the cutting edge of the industry and, as such, a successful leader.”

In order to capitalize on the design and performance options leveraged by IMP panels, architects are advised to integrate these systems from the project’s onset in order to maximize efficiencies and potentially take advantage of longer stands, greater distances and heavier steel gauges.

Multi-Level Storage Facilities

Moving forward, designers can expect to see an increase in multi-story storage facilities, particularly in urban areas, where building owners are being forced onto smaller lots.

Explaining the trend in a Sept. 2016 issue of Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine, Michael Haugh, CCIM, senior director of revenue management, Storage USA, Memphis, states, “Increased land costs have forced developers to build up, particularly in urban markets where land tracks of four or more acres necessary for single-story developments are nonexistent. In some cases, a multistory project can be built on as little as 1.5 acres.”

Or in regions where there is little space for new construction but a high demand for storage, like New York City, storage companies are renovating upward. For example, Stop & Stor partners with door and storage solution company, DBCI to convert existing buildings into high-end, multi-level storage facilities. Using existing building blueprints and outline unit placement, DBCI created a custom storage solution in a space that is both conveniently located and functional For more information, read “Urban Storage Units” in Metal Architecture’s Jan. 2016 issue.

Filling the Storage Niche

From multiple stories to designer-end architecture, IMPs are actively filling an important niche in the self-storage industry as a durable and aesthetic, all-in-one building enclosure solution.

Nice Curves! Stunning Architecture with Curved Roofing and Walls

Breaking away from simpler panels, more and more architects are experimenting with arched and curved metal roofing and wall panels to upgrade their designs. This enables designers to incorporate exciting elements like concave and convex curving, not as feasible with other cladding materials.

Combined with unique angles, increased edge finishing options, appealing gutter options and greater compatibility with shingle types, architects now have access to a greater assortment of mix-and-match options.

For example, at Owens Community College in Findlay, Ohio, a regal red, double-curved canopy crowns the curtainwall with 15,500 square feet of 22-gauge curved metal roof panels. Designed by Rooney Clinger Murray Architects, the structural roofing panel system, fabricated by MBCI, is ASTM tested for air infiltration and water penetration, and incorporates a 2-inch tall standing seam that was field seamed during the installation process. The contractor, Charles Construction Services, won the American General Contractors (AGC) Build Ohio Award for “New Construction Under $10 Million.”

Owens Community College
For Owens Community College, the Curved BattenLok® metal panels in red accentuate the arch of the campus, making it the focal point of the building.

Another noteworthy curved design example is the Central Los Angeles Area High School #9, designed by HMC Architects. “Metal enabled us to clad buildings of different geometries, including curved geometries, in one material, while also giving them a special appearance,” reported Kerstin Kohl, spokesperson for the project’s design architect, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, in a Metal Construction Association case study, Steeling Art for Students.

Using CAD and BIM for Curved Metal Panels

For designing and fine-tuning curved metal creations, the latest CAD and BIM features are key tools for architects.

In creating the “geometry that has been freed from the relentlessness of the orthogonal layout,” as described by Mark Dewalt, AIA, principal at Valerio Dewalt Train, in a recent article in Metal Architecture magazine, New Trends in Metal Architecture, designers are using CAD in shop drawings to support unique façade fabrication.

“The use of computer design to warp and twist and perforate will give metal greater longevity, added Kevin Marshall, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, associate architect, Integrated Design Solutions.

Similarly, BIM software is further supporting enhanced compatibility with metal roof and wall designs with newer features such as automated light gauge steel wall framing work and the ability to more easily configure supporting structures, openings, complex L or T connections and service hole positions while providing photorealistic renderings so that the client can see exactly how their building will look once built.

West Haven City Hall
West Haven City Hall combines MBCI’s Curved BattenLok® in Copper Metallic with Artisan® Series and Flat Sheet.

Ensuring a Tight Building Enclosure with Curves

As with any roofing type, designing and installing a tight building enclosure for curved roofing and walls is essential for delivering a high performing building.

For starters, architects must choose an appropriate vapor retarder, especially in cooler climates and interior relative humidity levels of 45 percent or greater. Also, buildings with high humidity interiors and construction elements that may release moisture after the roof is installed–such as interior concrete and masonry, plaster finishes and fuel-burning heater– require special considerations when choosing vapor retarders.

With utility clips, some curved panels will lay tight to the wood deck, but if tin tabs are used to attach the moisture barrier to the wood deck, then they will need to be covered to prevent the tabs from rusting the back side of the panels. Similarly, plastic washers may not be the best option as they run the risk of impacting the panels, resulting in undesired aesthetics. Rather, peel and stick membranes are a preferred underlayment because they eliminate the potential of underlayment fasteners penetrating or dimpling the panels.

A Savvy Look for Design

Whether it’s wavy, circular or some other exciting soft geometric shape, curved metal roofing and walls open up all kinds of new design possibilities. Out of the box, literally, architects are actively producing exciting, eye-catching creations with these welcomed capabilities.

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