For architects who design commercial-scale exterior retrofits, it’s a jungle out there. Structural systems vary, existing conditions run the gamut, and standard specifications can turn out to be anything but standard. But in its Formawall insulated metal panel (IMP) system, CENTRIA offers the closest thing yet to a universal solution: high-performance panels adaptable to virtually any existing condition, accessories and finishes that offer architects unlimited creative latitude, and engineering support that provides the critical link between design and execution.
The heart of the Formawall® system is the panel itself, a prefinished, steel-skinned sandwich with an insulating foam core. Available in 2-inch, 2-½-inch, and 3-inch thicknesses, the panels provide insulation ratings from R-14 to R-22. “The R-22 panel meets code in every climate zone,” says Greg Lusty, CENTRIA’s director of product management and R&D.
Increased energy efficiency, low maintenance, and longevity give Formawall an exceptionally low lifecycle cost. At the end of service life, the panels can be easily demounted and recycled, or even reused, though few have taken advantage of those options. “Most of the panels we've sold”—some 50 million square feet since 2002—“are still in place,” Lusty says.
Formawall panels interlock in tongue-and-groove fashion, with fasteners and sealant concealed within the joint. CENTRIA’s high-performance glazing units mount in the same way, yielding a building skin that is fully integrated, both functionally and aesthetically, and provides all four essential barriers: thermal, air, moisture, and vapor. “The beauty of the panel system is that it’s sealant- and gasket-free on the exterior, so it’s very low-maintenance,” Lusty says.
A pressure-equalized chamber in the joint provides additional protection against water intrusion. “Even if there were imperfections in the air barrier of a panel, water will not be drawn into the interior through negative pressure,” Lusty says. “That’s a big differentiator between us and our competitors. They rely on 100-percent-perfect sealant applied either in the shop or the field to maintain that air barrier at higher test pressures.”
The product is offered in two distinct series to meet the architect’s aesthetic and performance needs. Formawall Dimension Series® is available in a variety of flat and ribbed profiles, while the innovative, new Formawall Graphix Series® with Directional Reveals showcases horizontal, vertical and even sloped reveals for unique building facades. The mainstay of the Graphix Series system combines horizontal and vertical reveals in a single panel, creating the appearance of up to 24 smaller panels.
CENTRIA’s coil-coating plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio are capable of matching any paint color and can also apply finishes that mimic the color and texture of zinc, terra cotta, or concrete. That flexibility—plus a wide selection of louvers, sun shades, and other architectural components—gives architects the creative freedom to match, update, or remake the look of any existing building.
Architects who specify Formawall also have the full backing of CENTRIA’s technical support staff. “Most of our salespeople are actually architects or engineers themselves,” Lusty says. “They’re often in architects’ offices, consulting on product applications early in the budgeting process.” A separate team of 20 in-house engineers provides structural and building-performance analysis. A select network of dealers adds the voice of experience on tools and installation methods in the field.
Exterior retrofits may never be easy, Lusty admits. “Architects are always getting curve balls,” he says. But by offering a system that delivers performance, design flexibility, and full engineering support, CENTRIA is doing its part to make their jobs a whole lot simpler.
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