A Quick Guide to Specifying Safer Cladding systems

At the top of every developer's retrofit priorities list in 2022 is the replacement of combustible cladding materials from the external walls of every structure. The government has been increasingly stringent on preventing lacklustre efforts to make buildings safer, particularly high rise residential buildings.

While there are many types of cladding systems available, it is important to choose a system that will provide adequate safety and protection, such as:

  • Weatherability
  • Thermal insulation
  • Fire resistance
  • UV radiation resistance
  • Fungal growth resistance
  • Impact resistance

Soltherm makes specifying external wall solutions simpler with an in-house team of structural engineers and designers, plus a wealth of system calculations and design tools that can ensure your next structural project performs to your exact requirements, fully compliant to modern regulatory building standards.

How do rainscreen cladding systems work?

Rainscreen cladding systems consist of prefabricated panelling that attach to the outer layer of the external wall solution. It is the main line of defence against moisture penetrating the wall of the building. It also provides a layer of defence against all weather conditions such as wind, snowstorms and harsh sunlight and heat.

As long as there is an element of breathability between layers and adequate protection from external forces, rainscreen facade systems can adopt any number of visual styles. See our range for examples.

What problems does wind cause for cladding systems?

Wind load calculations must be performed on cladding designs to determine the overall safety of your structure. Every external wall insulation adds weight to a structure; every assembly of EWI panelling and materials must therefore be checked for durability during changes in air pressure. Soltherm engineers provide fast and accurate wind load calculations to ensure product specifications are always accurate.

Specifying Cladding for Fire Safety

What types of cladding system are dangerous?

Developers are under increasing pressure to implement actions to remove unsafe non ACM cladding systems from residences in the UK. It is the combustibility of the many varieties of core ACM material that highlighted its unsuitability for construction, during the Grenfell tragedy in 2017. However it was determined that several other varieties including High Pressure Laminate (HPL) panels would react in the same way, meaning a variety of cladding materials are now to be replaced most urgently.

Soltherm external wall insulation solutions include industry leading fire rated materials, including the innovative HD Silicone solution and the ever popular mineral wool core, which is resistant to fire and has an exceptional fire safety rating.

What cladding regulations should I look for?

BS EN 13501:1 is the European fire classification of building elements, including fire performance of cladding systems.

Under the requirements of BS EN 13501, building materials must undergo a series of tests, including non-combustibility, heat of combustion and single-burning item. The results for each material are determined as follows:

  • Fire behaviour rating (A-F): the material's behaviour when exposed to fire.
  • Smoke generation (s1-s3): the amount of smoke produced when exposed to fire.
  • Droplet production (d0-d2): The amount of flaming droplets produced in the first ten minutes.

For example, the Soltherm Ultimate A1 Mineral system has a rating of A1s1d0, the highest fire safety rating of its kind in the world.

What is the best exterior cladding?

Since the government pledged to eliminate combustible cladding systems from high rise residences in the UK and the ongoing industry effort to do so, the answer to this question has certainly changed.

Property developers must now actively seek out cladding systems that can demonstrate their ability to protect structures from natural elements, but also help prevent the spread of fire.

Fire regulation compliance is becoming increasingly stringent, as are regulations to protect our climate. With that in mind, we advise specifying cladding systems that are guaranteed for decades of effective service life, engineered for occupancy safety.

Click here to see a range of examples, including their fire safety ratings.

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Fire resistant and durable systems that can achieve A1 fire performance, designed with fire safety in mind.

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Indestructible facade systems achieving superior impact resistance & 75 years effective life.

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Soltherm manufacture EWI systems for new, durable, rock-solid and crack-resistant façades with 75 years service life. With an ongoing commitment to innovation and improvement, Soltherm have produced a fully certified A1 fire rated system, using fire safe technology. Read more to view our full range of systems.

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