Sept 22 2016   |   by Joel McKinely   |    Insider, Testing, Designing

What's the Importance of Specifying a Tested Wall Panel System?

We often get asked this question by people looking to construct a building that will stand the test of time, free from long-term defects.  The importance of specifying a tested panel system is that there are standards that exist (AAMA 508-07NFPA 285ASTM 283, 330 and 331) to guide architects and specification writers in how to pick appropriate products that are available to them within the master building specification.

The Objective of Choosing a Tested Architectural Wall Panel System

There are many objectives behind the reasons why architects and specification writers choose particular products. The reason why it's important for a tested system to be utilized is to ensure the wall cladding will withstand the wear and tear of the elements, more specifically high winds, driving rain, snow and ice buildup while still allowing the wall assembly to breathe properly. If a superior wall panel design is chosen and installed properly from the get-go, utilizing a highly tested panel system will ensure that it's going to stand up to these kinds of conditions in your particular part of the world.

Important to the changes nowadays are shifting climatic conditions around the globe. Therefore, it is critical that an architect and specification writer feel confident in choosing a high quality design that is well manufactured. A tested panel system will greatly increase the odds of the building withstand these changing elements and is very important in ensuring the longevity of the building envelope and healthy sustainable structures. Each geographical location is going to be different, but whether you’re coastal or inland, wall panel systems must be able to withstand the exterior forces continually working upon them.

The exterior facade is a critical choice in building as it is the first line of defense for the building envelope. As long as it's able to withstand high winds and prevent air, water and moisture from getting behind the exterior panel system, as proven by its testing documents then it's going to ensure a safer, more structurally integral building for many years to come.

Why Would You Specify a Tested Building Panel System?

Another key factor why architects and spec writers should only specify a tested panel system is that they have been commissioned by their customers with the task of recommending proper building materials to construct a safe structure that's going to have longevity and proper performance suitable to its function. In the ACM/MCM or composite wall panel industry specifically, in the last ten to fifteen years, there have been a great deal of manufacturers with system designs that have come to market. This has led to an extremely large number of companies who are submitting unproven designs on projects as alternates due to poorly written specifications that are far too heavily focused on specific brands of plank manufacturers or colors and finishes. This has, by default, opened the door to a great number of manufacturers supplying untested and unproven cobbled together designs. What it boils down to is, the importance of specifying a fully tested panel system is a means of quality control for the architect. A tested system ensures that the customer gets what he's paying for and that the architect, spec writer and owner can rest at night, knowing that their building is going to perform the way it's supposed to. And look great while doing so!

Any given project should be viewed as - how does the architect specify a proper system or how does the architect find a proper system to specify? This is what we will continue to address and continue to assist the design community with.

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