How easy is it to replace façade panels?

Architectural façades, rainscreen cladding and solar screening systems are built to last.

In a nutshell: 

  • A panel replacement strategy allows individual façade panels to be replaced if they get damaged
  • Gaps between panels allow access to fixings and means individual panels can be replaced
  • Overlaid panels prevent single panels from being easily removed and replaced
  • Damage to panels is rare but it’s best to plan for the unexpected in the design phase

They’re typically manufactured in hard-wearing and non-corrosive aluminium, and are often anodised or powder-coated for added protection.

Occasionally, however, individual panels can get damaged – by vandalism or freak accident. What happens then? Does it mean that whole sections of a large, apparently seamless façade will need to be replaced?

Fortunately not. Façade specialists will build a panel replacement strategy into the design.

What is a panel replacement strategy?

This is typically evidenced by gaps between panels. As well as providing space for expansion, these gaps allow access to fixings and the removal of a single panel without damaging others.

That’s also why you hardly ever see a façade with overlaid panels. Remove one and you may have to remove them all.

Of course, on an open building such as a car park, it’s easier. Fixings can be accessed from the inside, and the panel ‘unhooked’ from the support structure. On the other hand, replacing individual panels on complex rainscreen cladding systems involving multiple components can be more difficult – especially if the design incorporates so-called ‘concealed’ fixings.

The thing to remember here is that ‘concealed’ doesn’t mean ‘inaccessible’, and that façade specialists can help you achieve the right balance.

Fortunately, deliberate damage is rare, and accidental damage even more so. However, as with most things façade-related, the answer is to plan for the unexpected as early in the design process as possible.

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