Looking Past the Glass  
Glaziers Find their Groove with  
Metal and Composite Panels  
b y N i c k S t . D e n i s  
n the architectural glass and metal  
industry, the “and metal” part is Aluminum Finishing (SAF) says the selves,” he says.  
becoming more prominent for con- popularity of aluminum composite  
Greg Beane, who works in sales at  
tract glaziers.  
material (ACM) has grown so much Petersen Aluminum, adds that while  
John McClatchey Jr. of Southern scope and fabricated the panels them-  
According to a USGlass magazine that his company is now training glaz- composite panels have been a growing  
survey, nearly 60 percent of glaziers ing contractors on how to fabricate trend with glazing contractors, an even  
have seen an increase in exterior metal these systems and is selling them the newer phenomenon is that they’re now  
panel installations in the last two years. components.  
More than 80 percent currently install “There were too many companies  
installing corrugated panels.  
“It could be that they’ve simply  
metal panels to some degree, and more that only fabricated and installed ACM found it is an easy panel to install,” he  
than 60 percent include metal panels in that it was just a matter of time until says,adding that if the project allows it,  
at least 10 percent of their projects.  
the glaziers started picking up that architects may be persuaded to specify  
The growing use of metal panels alongside glass on façade designs has prompted glaziers to take on more metal panel  
installations in recent years than in the past.  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | July 2016  
An Alternative  
John McClatchey Jr. of Southern Aluminum Finishing (SAF), says the in-  
creased stringency in building codes—particularly in terms of energy effi-  
ciency—has made the types of glass that used to meet them more expensive.  
As a result, he says architects have seen the value in using a shadowbox  
feature, infill panels or composite panel systems in lieu of glass. SAF has been  
promoting a product in response to this demand that features shadowboxed  
insulating panels.  
Of course there is still glass in this feature, but it doesn’t need to be a very  
expensive product such as triple insulating glass,” he says.  
these panels instead of composite be-  
cause of cost.  
He says the ability for architects and  
contractors to use one subcontractor  
for both glass and the metal panels,  
in addition to shrinking lead times for  
fabricated panels, has a big impact on  
keeping projects on pace for their com-  
pletion dates.  
ACM and other metal panels can  
comprise a majority of a building’s ex-  
terior cladding, they can be integrated  
alongside glass for aesthetics, or they  
may be used in place of spandrel glass.  
Whatever the purpose, Kevin Carey  
of Alliance Glazing Technologies in Ir-  
ving, Texas, says “the big thing is pick-  
ing the right manufacture to work with.  
It’s always preferable to deal with man-  
ufacturers that have dealt with glazing  
contractors.They understand the qual-  
ity we’re looking for.”  
The recently completed Delaware North building in Buffalo, N.Y., used  
Southern Aluminum Finishing’s Insul SAF M5000 spandrel pans, which  
implement a shadowbox feature.  
He says key factors include match-  
ing the finish of the metal panel and  
adaptability to glaze into our system his company’s panel fabrication is trained fabrication crews can eliminate  
We want to mitigate flatness and de- much more automated than its store- a lot of mistakes in the field,” he says.  
flection.We need to be sure it’s friendly front or curtainwall fabrication.  
“Additional to the fabrication crew,  
to our curtainwall systems.”  
“Specialized software does the layout experienced drafters transferring the  
to feed AutoCAD, and AutoCAD feeds measurements into the software in  
our CNC routers,” he says. “Accuracy order to cut the panels to the correct  
Many glaziers stick to installing pre- from the field to the project manager is size on the CNC machine, as well as re-  
fabricated panels, while others only critical,especially with complex shapes view and correct measuring mistakes,  
make minor adjustments—such as to make sure that everyone knows what is equally as important.  
Fabrication Process  
“Finally, optimizing material  
through a good cut list in order to  
depth fabrication processes which re- in Houston adds that field measuring the ordered material is key. Running  
quire different machinery,tooling and a the entire project when installing metal out of material and having to reorder  
unique skill set compared to glass.  
Jeff Ehlers, Ace Glass vice president project tremendously.  
panels can influence the profit of a due to an unexpected high waste fac-  
of operations in Little Rock, Ark., says  
“Working with seasoned and well-  
continued on page 62  
July 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
LcoonotikniunegdPfraosmtptahgee 6G1lass  
furnish and install panels within or ad-  
jacent to window systems.”  
What % of your installations include metal panels?  
Very close interactions take place  
17.2% of respondents  
32.8% of respondents  
24.1% of respondents  
12.1% of respondents  
13.8% of respondents  
on a facade between panels and glaz-  
ing systems,” he says. “When two par-  
ties are involved, there can be a ‘not in  
my scope’ mentality where important  
subtle steps are left out.”  
He adds,“Given glazing systems em-  
ploy a water management system that  
directs the water to a harmless location,  
it is important the panel systems—  
which are increasingly a rainscreen in  
front of air and water barrier—do not  
adversely affect the glazing system’s  
ability to handle water properly.”  
Nearly 83 percent of glaziers install metal panels to some degree, and more than  
0 percent of glaziers include metal panels in at least 10 percent of their projects.  
What Else Are They  
Reader Survey:  
Have you had an increase  
in exterior metal panel  
Glaziers don’t just install glass…  
and metal is only one of the many  
building materials they deal with.  
Here are some others:  
installations in the last two years?  
Other Considerations  
Attachment methods, layout, mea-  
surement discrepancies and building  
tolerances are other key differences  
between installing metal panels as op-  
posed to glass.  
41% NO  
Jim Stringfellow, a façade engineer  
with Australia-based G James Glass and  
Aluminum, works with metal panels on  
more than half of his company’s proj-  
ects. He says composite panels require  
careful handling to prevent impact  
damage and that protecting their f nish  
during construction is a challenge.  
He adds that achieving consistency  
of f nishes is more diff cult with metal  
panels than glass. “However, curving  
and complex shapes is obviously eas-  
ier,” he says.  
Stainless steel  
High pressure laminate panels  
9% YES  
Architectural screens  
Fiber cement architectural panels  
Phenolic panels  
Source: USGlass reader survey.  
tor or a high percentage of fabrication as stud layout or sheathing substrate  
Beane says glaziers are now generally  
mistakes can make a company lose subcontractors, is important in metal more educated on installing metal pan-  
els in the past on things such as “how  
prof t on a project very fast.”  
panel installations.  
Lawrence stresses the signif cance of many fasteners are needed, and where  
f eld measurements. they go.” Other factors he says need to  
“[This] makes coordination on a be taken into consideration include  
Attention to Installation  
Lawrence says working with metal  
panels needs to be considered as a sep- constant basis very important to keep windloads with thinner panels and the  
arate trade.  
a good f ow on the project avoiding type of f ashing used for the panels as  
A completely different division of delays,” he adds.“Providing [multiple] opposed to glazing. n  
specif cations applies,”he says.“Provid- services through one company  
ing work for both divisions 7 (thermal also helps in the post construc-  
and moisture protection) and 8 (open- tion phase by having fewer parties  
ings) at once helps the overall construc- attending meetings and investi-  
tion by overcoming possible issues and gating occurring water leaks on a  
reviewing transitions between materi- building.”  
N i c k S t . D e n i s is the  
assistant editor of USGlass  
magazine. He can be reached  
at nstdenis@glass.com.  
als in an early stage in-house.”  
Terry Webb, president of Eureka  
Ehlers says coordination with water- Glass in Philadelphia,says“the best  
proofers for rain screen systems,as well outcome is achieved when glaziers  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | July 2016