Can fixings be concealed?

Brise soleil systems, rainscreen cladding and architectural façades are designed to fulfil very practical functions. But architects also want them to look great.

In a nutshell: 

  • Many architects and specifiers are requesting discreet or concealed fixings
  • However, discreet or concealed fixings may not be the best option for all brise soleil, rainscreen cladding and architectural façade projects
  • Standard fixings may not actually be visible from the ground
  • Locating concealed fixings for repairs, maintenance or regular safety checks may be difficult
  • Other options are available, such as low-profile screws or positioning them out of sight

Clean lines, millimetre-perfect joints, pristine powder-coating, sharp interfaces... they’re all features that architectural façade and brise soleil specialists are expected to deliver.

But what about concealed or discreet fixings and brackets? Should they be added to the list? Before you answer, here are a few things to think about.

First of all, how many standard fixings are actually going to be visible? They’re likely to be small, or a long way from the ground. Next, how do you fancy trying to access (or even locate) concealed fixings for repairs, maintenance or regular safety checks over the lifespan of the system? If they’re structurally critical, you certainly don’t want to miss any.

Even so, many façade specialist offer discreet or concealed fixings, and architects and specifiers are beginning to request them as a matter of course.

What are the other options?

Positioning fixings in panel recesses or shadow gaps is common, as is using low-profile screws and bolts that sit flush. It is possible to colour-match the head of the fixing to the component – although that comes with a word of warning.

For a simple approach, have you thought about positioning the fixings to the rear of the assembly or out of sight (say above a brise soleil blade)?

To sum up...

Ultimately, what you probably want is to minimise the visual impact of fixings – perhaps not hide them completely.

Yes, bright stainless steel will stand out, but there is a chemical process to dull or blacken them. Of course, it comes at a cost. It is also possible to shot-blast the heads of fixings to create a key that can be powder-coated – but be prepared for the surface to chip during installation if heavy-duty tools are involved.

Our advice... weigh up all the pros and cons, and speak to a specialist first.

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