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New Cladding Developments in Resin-Cast Shapes

MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2023

By Karine Galla


The monochromatic, single-material building facade that dominated the look of commercial and multi-family residential buildings decades ago is no longer  desired in today’s construction landscape. Instead, architects, designers, builders, and specifiers seek to choose building materials that deliver a sophisticated, modern aesthetic that blends a variety of materials. This means combining the look of wood, metal, and brick for buildings.

At the same time, architects and specifiers must adhere to strict standards when it comes to the performance and energy efficiency of the building envelope, because it is the barrier to the outside world. Traditional materials typically cannot deliver the energy efficiency required by modern building codes. Using those materials also comes with additional time for installation and, quite often, greater cost.

Building product manufacturers have risen to the challenge with the introduction of resin-cast shapes. The result is simulated brick and wood that deliver on the promise of a classic look with highly desirable performance and energy efficiency attributes.

When it comes to the design of a building, curb appeal remains critical. Resin-cast shapes can deliver superb curb appeal based on how they are engineered. They are lightweight, flexible, and highly customizable. They very closely mimic the look of traditional materials, making it a challenge for even the discerning eye to determine that the facade is not made of traditional brick or wood. At the same time, the base material for resin-cast brick or wood enables architects to design buildings with curved bricks or wood, something not possible with traditional materials.

Resin-cast shapes give architects added aesthetic versatility. Wood shapes come in a variety of wood grain patterns, avoiding the pitfall of duplicating patterns often seen in other cladding solutions. The material has depth, and the texture can be felt and seen. Similarly, resin-cast bricks can be made to match traditional brick textures and colors while also being able to create unique looks.

Photos: Courtesy of Sto Corp.

In St. Catharines, Ontario, designers sought a facade solution for an affordable housing project that would bring comfort, style, and sustainability to the development that faced strict cost limitations. The design team turned to the prefabrication engineers at SkyRise Prefab Building Solutions to create a thermally efficient building enclosure using 75,813 square feet of StoPanel Classic NExT continuous insulation panels to maximize thermal efficiency. For visual appeal, the team used StoCast Brick, a resin-cast brick from Sto to complete the project on time and create a building that would serve as a source of pride for tenants. 

Because of how they are made, resin-cast shapes enable designers to mix and match different looks without sacrificing on performance.  They are a key component of a fully engineered building enclosure system, ensuring the right components are in place from the start so the building envelope can withstand the forces of nature. Utilizing a building enclosure with control layers delivers durability, protection from the elements, and a comfortable interior environment.

A smart, fully engineered system contains five control layers  in a  fully tested system that works as one, delivering the aesthetic desired and the protection required.  The first layer is a vapor control layer that is permeable or impermeable per the designer specifications to minimize condensation by controlling the flow of water vapor as it shifts from high- to low-pressure areas. Second is an air control layer that reduces energy and condensation loss by limiting the uncontrolled air flow through the wall assembly. Next is a water penetration control layer that prevents water from entering the wall cavity and is flashed to the cladding’s exterior and a thermal control layer to mitigate energy loss and prevent thermal bridging. Lastly, there is a durable, water-shedding layer to protect against environmental elements, impacts, UV exposure, pollutants and more.

Using resin-cast shapes, designers have the freedom to implement any aesthetic desired and mix and match materials without comprising the performance of the building envelope. By specifying such materials, architects help to drive greater efficiency.

Consider the traditional construction scenario where wood and brick are specified for the building envelope. This means the project team must coordinate the shipment of these heavy materials to the job site. Then, one crew must carry, shape, and cut lumber. Another crew would need to lay brick and mortar. All of this must occur after the other control layers have been installed separately by other trades. Taken together, this costs precious time and money.

Installing a building envelope system with resin-cast shapes is done by one trade, eliminating the potential for scheduling complications and simplifying transitions for a smooth installation process. Additionally, the streamlined process means a one-source warranty for any issues that arise. A single installer and manufacturer can address these issues.

Moreover, resin-cast shapes easily install over a variety of systems, from traditional EIFS to stucco to rainscreens. Resin-cast shapes are adhesively applied to the building envelope system using a non-cementitious adhesive. There is no penetration of the building envelope with fasteners as there would be with traditional wood or brick installation, meaning the building envelope remains intact, reducing opportunity for thermal bridging and  moisture intrusion.

 

B-Line Condominiums, in Toronto, needed a continuous insulation solution, with the need to accommodate a complex design with multiple finishes on a tight, constricted job site.  StoPanel Classic NExT ci panel system was selected.  With Sto Panel Technology and SkyRise Prefab Building Solutions, there was one manufacturer and one complete solution.  Using actual brick was a non-starter for the same reasons on-site EIFS applications were out (no room for scaffolding), but SkyRise Prefab knew they had newly available Sto finish layer options. These options, which could deliver on the design, included StoCast Wood, resin-cast wood grain plank and StoCast Brick, a resin-cast brick. 

With traditional materials, an aesthetic renovation or update would typically mean deconstruction of the cladding and rebuilding. Due to the lightweight nature of the product, resin-cast shapes can be applied over existing cladding that is structurally sound with a skim coat and 1/8-inch mesh layer under the adhesive. This translates into cost savings in the present and the future, reducing landfill waste, and enabling a modern facade to stand the test of time.

The installation process is simple and quick for the crew. One person lays the adhesive, and one person lays the shape, saving time, material, and crew requirements. The material is very light which makes it easy and less tiring to handle. There is also no silica in the resin, so it can be easily cut with shears. The process does not generate sand or dust that is the usual byproduct when working with traditional materials.

As energy codes become more stringent and the effort to reduce consumption is even more important for building owners, architects and contractors to look for building materials that help to meet performance requirements while enabling design visions to come to life. The thinner and lighter resin-cast shapes lower the carbon footprint of construction compared to the natural materials emulated, with less transportation and operational costs.  

Additionally, manufacturers are improving product performance to maintain long lifecycles and deliver a sustainable product to architects. Resin-cast shapes do not need to be replaced or repaired frequently. The UV-resistant coatings are engineered to resist cracking or chipping, and recoating requirements are minimal.

In essence, resin-cast shapes are designed to last for the life of the building and are tested for moisture intrusion and fire performance.  Resin-cast shapes will not warp, rot or effloresce like their traditional counterparts.

Resin-cast shapes have ushered in a new world of possibilities for architects, designers, contractors, and building owners seeking traditional looks for the building facade that also deliver on the demand for greater energy performance. Part of a fully engineered and tested building envelope system, resin-cast shapes create the authentic appearance of brick, wood, and stone without the limitations. Simultaneously, they meet or exceed the latest energy code standards for long-term building performance.

 
ABOUT THE THE BLOGGER

Karine Galla

Galla is Senior Product Manager for Sto Corp. She has more than 17 years of experience in product marketing in EIFS, stucco, air and moisture barriers, and other materials. Karine has a master’s degree from the University of Lyon, France. She is multilingual and holds AWCI’s EIFS Doing it Right and Building Envelope Doing it Right certifications, as well as the ISO Internal Lead Auditor certification from Georgia Tech.

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Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building design; Building design software; Building envelope; Building facades; Building materials; Coating performance; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Exterior coatings; High-performance coatings; Latin America; North America; Performance testing; Z-Continents; Cladding; Design; Residential Construction; Resins

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