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A Complete Breakdown of Rainscreen Cladding Systems

What Is a Rainscreen Cladding System?

A rainscreen cladding system is a protective barrier installed on the outer wall’s weather-resistant panel, creating an air space directly behind the cladding that helps to keep the building’s weatherproofing system in optimal condition.

The primary function of rainscreen cladding systems is to minimize the amount of water that can potentially interact with the structure’s moisture barrier, thus decreasing the possibility of water seeping into the walls of the building.

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How Does Rainscreen Cladding System Work

The rainscreen cladding creates a vented area between the backside of the panelboard and the outer wall of the building for better ventilation. 

With rainscreen cladding, the air constantly moves through the structure, allowing any water that penetrates through the gaps of the cladding panels to escape before it can cause structural damage to the foundation.

Components of Rainscreen Cladding System

Cladding

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A high-quality wall panel serves as the primary defense in a rainscreen assembly. The barrier shields the wall components against water and moisture and protects against strong wind pressures and ultraviolet rays.

Ventilation and Drainage Cavity

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A ventilated air space behind the wall facilitates residual water drainage and air circulation. The cavity aids in the drying out of any water that may have gotten through. It also ventilates any moisture that may have been brought into the area.

Insulation

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A wall assembly’s insulation minimizes the amount of heat transferred into and out of the structure. Insulation should be put on the exterior side of the air barrier to get the most energy-efficient design.

If you’re going to utilize insulation in a rainscreen, be sure it’s made of a material that can withstand moisture and dry quickly without deteriorating the insulation material or lowering its overall R-value.

Air Barrier

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The air barrier is a device that prevents air from passing through it, and it protects the structure from moisture. It is the final and most important line of protection against water intrusion.

Is Rainscreen Cladding Safe?

Advanced composite rainscreen cladding is a safe material to use on your property. Yet, there are some precautions to take when using it, just as with any other building material.

It is essential to have an open cavity in rainscreen cladding systems for the insulation to regulate airflow behind the cladding panels. However, having an open cavity is potentially hazardous in the event of a fire because it generates a chimney for the fire to spread upwards through the building.

Fortunately, most cladding systems have an intumescent cavity barrier triggered by heat application. When properly installed and used to close the cavity, it significantly slows the upward spread of the fire.

How Is Rainscreen Cladding Installed

A rainscreen cladding system can be installed on the exterior of the existing structure of a building. The cladding system will create a vented gap in between the structural frame of the building and the actual facade.

Can Rainscreen Cladding Be Installed in Any Kind of Walls?

Exterior rainscreen cladding can be installed on brick, hardwood, stucco, stone facade, metal, and fiber cement walls.

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Can I Install Rainscreen Cladding in Vinyl Siding?

Although it is not required, placing rainscreen cladding on your exterior wall can provide an additional layer of protection.

Advantages of Rainsreen Cladding Systems

The use of a rainscreen system, in conjunction with other components, is intended to provide a wall structure that is energy-efficient and long-lasting. The system also enables other parts of the wall assembly to withstand moisture.

  • Durability. Because of the ventilation underneath the cladding, it remains dry for a longer period, increasing the wall’s lifespan.
  • Energy-efficient. The insulation layer of the structure provides thermal comfort and energy efficiency by keeping the building cold or warm depending on the time of year and the weather.
  • Moisture resistant. Installing a rainscreen can minimize the moisture and humidity that enters the building from both inside and outside the structure.
  • Extra layer of protection. Rainscreen cladding provides additional protection for buildings in harsh climates. The outer layer shields the building from wind and rain, and the inner layer provides insulation.
  • Maintenance. Rainscreen cladding systems require little to no upkeep, particularly if you choose a cladding material that is resistant to extreme weather conditions like hail and snow.
  • Acoustic properties. Rainscreen cladding can provide excellent sound insulation and sound absorption capabilities.
  • Increases the property’s value. Longevity, energy efficiency, and low maintenance are all factors that increase the value of a structure since they lower long-term expenses.

How Long Does Rainscreen Cladding Systems Last

High-quality rainscreen cladding can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance and care. If installed in a harsh environment, a rainscreen cladding’s life expectancy is around 50 years. There is no doubt that rainscreen cladding will extend the usable lifetime of any home or structure.

How Often Do You Need to Replace the Rainscreen Cladding?

It is recommended to replace your rainscreen cladding every 50 years to maintain its quality and efficiency or as soon as possible if you notice significant fractures than can let in more moisture. Older claddings may require maintenance and replacement at various points throughout their lives.

Are Rainscreen Cladding Systems Expensive?

The upfront costs might be high, but considering the fact that the panels rarely need to be replaced and their outstanding benefits that expand the lifespan of your building, you’ll likely save money in the long run.

Are Rainscreen Cladding Systems Expensive?

The upfront costs might be high, but considering the fact that the panels rarely need to be replaced and their outstanding benefits that expand the lifespan of your building, you’ll likely save money in the long run.

Material Costs

Depending on the type of cladding and size of the project, a rainscreen cladding costs $50 to $80 per square foot. Glass rainscreen cladding system’s average cost is $85 to $100 per square foot for the material itself.

Installation Costs

On average, the price of the rainscreen cladding per square foot is $65 to $110, including the installation fee. In addition, glass rainscreen cladding usually costs $95 to $110 per square foot, including the labor of installing the system.

Maintenance Costs

Usually, cladding with a low initial price may have hidden expenses in the form of continuous maintenance, which reduces the return on investment of those products. In the first 30 years of the cladding’s life span, the maintenance cost is approximately 4% of the construction cost of a building.

Warranty

Rainscreen manufacturers provide a standard guarantee ranging from 5 to 12 years, providing clients with the assurance that they will not have additional short-term replacement costs in the event of a failure.

Are There Alternatives to Rainscreen Cladding Systems?

Although not as durable and high-performance as the rainscreen cladding system, there are other options if you want similar weather protection for your exterior. Here are some of your options:

Composite Boards

Composite sheets are high-quality in their exterior composition and are fire-resistant, ideal for use in industrial and commercial projects. Cladding panels offer outstanding sound insulation performance, and the sizes of the panels allow for a quick and cost-effective installation.

Cement Cladding

Because of their lightweight nature, these cladding panels are highly durable, can withstand damage and weathering, and are not susceptible to mold or fungus growth.

The coating of cement panels has been carefully engineered to be resilient to ultraviolet radiation and the changing weather, allowing them to last for at least 40 years.

Tempered Glass Cladding

In its most basic form, glass cladding is extremely luminance and can reflect its surroundings in a mirror image. However, glass aesthetics is not the only effect that can be accomplished with tempered glass cladding. The cladding can be screen-printed and handled in various ways in addition to the many different color options available.

With that said, rainscreen cladding systems can deliver quality protection to commercial and residential buildings. They are an excellent choice for those who want to keep their facilities in great shape for many years to come. Hopefully, this guide may have given you some helpful insights on what these barriers can do and how they work.

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