Sean Bentley - Dec 6, 2019

Aluminium composite panel warranties and their effects

Aluminium composite panels used outdoors, typically carry a material warranty for its application. In this post, we will look at what warranties aluminium composite panels specification can come with and what their alternative material solution may offer in comparison. 

Aluminium composite panels warranties are determined by two main factors, their paint finish and core material make up. 

The paint finish options available on ACP’s may vary according to the required specification, colour choice and longevity period required.   

 

 

Paint finish options

PE (Polyester) resin is generally used on signage grade panels and does not usually carry an outdoor guarantee. However, if four or more coats are applied, an outdoor guarantee may apply. Polyester paints offer a wide and clear colour range to choose from, making it ideal for signage manufacturers to meet their clients colour requirements. 

Double PE has multiple coats of Polyester paint with added silicone applied to a sheet, may offer a 15-year outdoor guarantee. This is often the cheaper alternative manufactures use to supply outdoor panels. Some manufactures may refer to this finish as fake PVDF is used as an alternative under the outdoor PVDF requirements.  Although warranties may state 15 years there is often a flexibility in the actual period the colour may last due to the instability of the paint finish. 

PVDF (polyvinylidene difluoride) resin is the industry standard for ACM and offers a minimum of 20-year outdoor guarantee. With 70% Kynar, it will need two coats of paint or more, and is based on PVDF resins. PVDF resin-based powder coatings are also available, and these powders also will also need two coats. This finish has a high resistance to the UK weather and is engineered to last against the elements. It’s easy to clean with little to no maintenance required. PVDF paints are preferred on specified finishes like outdoor ACP’s.  Contractors and designers can find this profusion of trade name very confusing when reviewing specifications. Simply specifying Kynar/Hylar, fluorocarbon, or PVDF will not ensure paint containing the 70% formulation but specifying “Kynar 500” or “Hylar 5000” will.  This guarantees that the paint finish provided is true PVDF and will last a minimum of 20-years outdoors.

FEVE (fluoroethylene vinyl ether) resin is an alternative to PVDF finishes. FEVE based fluoropolymer coatings take advantage of the carbon/fluorine bond, which is extremely difficult to break. Carbon-fluorine bonds can absorb much greater amounts of UV energy and will keep this energy from affecting the weaker bonds in the FEVE resin polymer structure.  High gloss colours are more radiant and resistant to UV light with FEVE paints. Due to the hardened chemical bond in FEVE, paint stopping the penetration of UV light, stains and chemical penetration. It’s this resistance that manufacturers offer FEVE paint or nano paints as a Graffiti Free paint solution. FEVE paint may offer a 20 – 40-year guarantee on performance.



Material core options affecting warranties

There are only two factors which affect aluminium composite panel warranties when looking at various core options used to manufacture outdoor panels.

Aluminium composite panels are either manufactured for outdoors or not.  Often due to the lack of availability, a customer may settle for using an aluminium composite panel specified for signage with no outdoor guarantee for outdoor application. In a short period of time the panel will begin to delaminate, oxidise, fade, crack or peel.

This happens because aluminium composite panels are manufactured for interior use or signage and are made using a core mix of Polyethylene and plastics. The ratio between the two may vary between manufacturers. A careful balance between the two depends on the manufacturer's intended result. The more Polyethylene, the more the panels flexibility, softness and weight are affected. Adding more plastic hardens the core, stiffening the panel and adds weight.  

We find that the more plastic in the core is exposed to heat from the sun, over time it can make the plastic sweat its natural oils, causing the bond between aluminium and core to deteriorate and delaminate the sheet. Outdoor panels are specifically manufactured to withstand the elements and ensure a consistent hold is achieved throughout the panel over time.

 

Maintenance and the results of no maintenance

Just like everything else that is made to last and withstand the elements of nature, aluminium composite panel requires maintenance. We spend money on washing and servicing our vehicles, why would ACP’s be any different? 

When supplied with Aluminium composite panels, your local supplier should advise on the warranty term and conditions. These are usually highlighted in the warranty document provided by your supplier. ACPs require regular cleaning schedules, just as one would clean the glass windows on your house.

By cleaning your aluminium composite panels, you remove harmful chemicals given off by cities and remove stains and dirt which may become stubborn and stagnant if left alone.  Sault residue is removed, eliminating any oxidisation that may be occurring and you will ultimately brighten up the colour you originally fell in love with. 

Let’s be honest, everyone loves to drive around in a freshly cleaned car. Now, imagine arriving at work to a sparkling clean façade. By simply ensuring you have a cleaning schedule and maintenance place on your aluminium façade you are prolonging the colour and longevity of your building’s façade. In the event your aluminium composite panels do begins to delaminate or fade prior to the expiry of its warranty, if you have not maintained the façade with routine cleaning schedule, the manufacturer may decline the claims due to insufficient maintenance. This could cost you money to repair or replace the materials.

Certified warranties can be provided by suppliers and manufacture based on the standard panel specification for outdoor use. This guarantee on product quality provides a massive advantage to making use of aluminium composite panels on your next project.  

 

Alternate materials used in building facades and their warranties

Sticking with aluminium products or the closest alternative to aluminium composite would be the use of pure aluminium powder to the specific colour requirements. 

The advantage of powder coating aluminium is that we can easily obtain the colours we are looking for. Most often powder coating companies advise that powder coating aluminium would provide a 10 – 15-year warranty on the colour’s resistance to UV light, cracking and peeling. However, no certification is provided without serious and time-consuming testing on the area to establish the potential longevity of the paint. No certificates are obtained easily. 

 

Thank you for reading, I hope the information provided can help you determine which material and specification best meets your project’s requirements.  

Sean Bentley.

Written by Sean Bentley