A ventilated facade always translates into a remarkable energy saving due to optimum thermal insulation, plus a greater acoustic comfort inside the building.
For some time now, a new construction system is being imposed as a solution that combines aesthetics and functionality to decorate exterior walls while also improving the thermal and acoustic insulation of all types of buildings.
This solution is none other than the ventilated facade, a system that provides a large number of advantages rather than obvious and is suitable for all types of real estate.
Advantages of ventilated facades
The ventilated facade is a constructive system of exterior enclosure suitable for almost any type of building. Fixes on it a metal substructure that will then support a cladding and undertakes to cover the original wall with an insulating material.
The installation of this cladding is carried out so that between the original wall, now covered with insulating material and the outer cladding formed by plates of a chosen material (which are joined together by open joints), an air chamber is created from three to nine centimetres.
This chamber, which is open at the top and bottom and through which the air circulates from the bottom up, helps to keep the heat inside the building in the winter months and to preserve the building from the outside heat in summer.
The operation of the system is simple: during the hot months, the outer coating is heated and also the air in the created chamber, but a convective effect is generated. Such convective effect allows to renew the air contained in the chamber with cold air that enters from the outside through the bottom of the air chamber and drives the hot air that it contains upwards.
In winter the air contained in the chamber is also heated in the same way but it does not reach the sufficient temperature so that this effect is generated and, therefore, it is easier to maintain the interior heat in the property. It is estimated that up to 30% of the thermal losses or gains recorded by a building are produced through the facade.
With a ventilated facade system the original wall, through which before heat escaped and cold entered, is now protected by an air chamber, an overlapping facade and an insulating layer that always remains dry. With this, it is possible that any type of thermal bridge disappears and the condensation problems are also eliminated.
Thus, the installation of a ventilated facade always translates into significant energy savings due to optimum thermal insulation, and also a greater acoustic comfort inside the building providing to a better insulation from outside noise. In addition, and since the exterior cladding is formed by pieces joined by open joints, the outer cladding is at all times safe from the problems caused by the expansion of the materials and the exterior appearance of the building is kept in an optimal state for longer .
The origin of the ventilated facade must be sought in the twentieth century, specifically during the decades in which the use of reinforced concrete and steel structures in buildings is widespread. The ventilated facades are, therefore, the product of the innovations that are synthesized in the so-called modern architecture, a term that defines the constructive movement from the late 20s, started at the Bauhaus and then the so-called International Congress of Modern Architecture; It established rationalism and organicism as basic principles of architectural creation.
In modern architecture; the formal style of the work is simplified, ornamentation lost the importance it had in earlier times as modernism and appear innovative solutions such as Cavity Wall – a wall of two sheets separated by a ventilated chamber that allows to drain water that may infiltrate through the outer wall. In the Cavity Wall, drainage is achieved thanks to holes arranged in the base of the system. Then, in the 70s, insulation is already included in the walls of this type.
From the mid-twentieth century, also dates the so-called pluvial partition – a constructive system for the protection of mediator walls that consists of installing a partition (usually of brick) on the original wall, separated from the aforementioned wall also by an air chamber. Thus, the overlapping wall protects the mediating wall from rain and other atmospheric agents, as well as ventilates the original wall.
From these systems to the current ventilated facades there is only one step, and that step is carried out with the replacement of the usual brick in these constructive solutions with other materials (fiber cement, sheet metal and others) that are anchored to the original wall by a metal framework.
Thus, today, the ventilated facades are exterior enclosure systems that consist of three parts: inner sheet, insulating layer and non-hermetic outer sheet and anchored to the original facade.
The systems of ventilated facades allow to improve the exterior finishes, isolate the interior of the building from noise and, also, improve the thermal performance of the property. In principle, it is a system suitable for all types of buildings; but before opting for it, it is necessary to evaluate the characteristics of the wall that will support the new wall surface.
If deficiencies are identified on the wall, it is always necessary to correct them before starting the installation of the ventilated facade. Otherwise, the end result will be far from optimal.
There are currently different types of ventilated facades; since they can be classified according to the material used for the outer sheet, the finish or the plate fixing system.
Each installer has a typology with its own categories that are created with the purpose of distinguishing its own product from the competition. However, the most common in utilitarian terms is to classify the ventilated facade according to the fixing system of the plates that form the cladding that overlaps the original wall.
Thus, the most common ventilated facades are two: that of single clips, which includes a three centimetre air chamber and requires less expertise to be installed, and that of fixing by means of profiles, which allows creating air chambers of up to eight centimetres and it is frequently used when undertaking rehabilitation.
Among the two facades cited, those of the second type are 20% more expensive, than those of single clip anchors. Even so, the anchoring system is not the only thing that defines the cost of installing a ventilated facade, since it is not the same if the outer sheet is of ivory marble, natural stone or zinc.
Regardless of materials and anchoring systems, in all cases the installation times are the same: it is estimated that a facade of 600 square meters can be completed in one month, since common operators are able to complete up to 30 square meters of facade in one day. If the high-performance level of excellence of the team that executes the work is maximum, this figure can be doubled. It all depends on proper planning.
Beyond the two main types of ventilated facades that have been indicated, other typologies can be articulated. Thus, and taking as a differentiating element the material used in the outer sheet, there are ceramic or stone facades to metal, glass, wood or composite facades such as polymers or plastics. Even; Within each of these types, subcategories can also be found; since the ceramic facades can be terracotta or porcelain stoneware and metallic, zinc or aluminum.
The finishes of the material that composes the outer sheet also allow to define new subcategories and, thus, there are natural facades, varnished facades or facades on which various designs have been applied through digital printing systems.
In fact, each company that installs ventilated facades has its own typologies that become a differentiation tool. Be that as it may, in any of its typologies, the system of external enclosure of ventilated facades is one of the most used in institutional buildings and gradually opens the way in the residential construction market.
Advantages and benefits of ventilated facades
Ventilated facades are an optimal solution to update the image of a property and improve its energy efficiency. The advantages and benefits they present are multiple and can be grouped into four sections that are as follows:
A ventilated facade acts as an excellent thermal insulator, since the air chamber that separates the outer sheet from the original wall helps to maintain a pleasant temperature throughout the year inside the buildings in which this exterior enclosure system is chosen.
The air chamber generates, in fact, energy savings. Since it is estimated that the insulating capacities acquired by the facade allow the cost of electricity, necessary to maintain a comfort temperature inside the building throughout the year, to be reduced up to 40%. The insulating advantages also allow to mitigate the impact of exterior noise inside the building, which thus becomes a more habitable environment.
The system also eliminates the problems of moisture and efflorescence common in the facades.
Depending on the material used in the outer sheet, the maintenance costs of the facade are drastically reduced. Many materials, such as natural stone or higher quality ceramic cladding, are able to remain unchanged for many years. However it is necessary to take into account that, if the atmospheric conditions of the environment of the building in which such a facade is installed are very aggressive, the metallic elements of the system could suffer some deterioration.
Despite the durability of ventilated facades, the Spanish Government Technical Building Code recommends periodic checks on them. Thus, every three years the state of conservation of the lining of the outer sheet must be evaluated in order to locate any cracks or fissures and, every five years, do the same in order to find collapses or deformations. And every ten years it is mandatory to evaluate the state of the ventilation openings of the chamber.
In any case, when compared with the needs of maintaining a traditional facade, the advantages are obvious. Finally, another economic advantages of installing a ventilated facade is that which has to do with the value of the property. Its attractiveness and its status as a modern solution make the exterior appearance of the building improve and consequently, grow the value of apartments, offices and premises that form the building that has been equipped with a ventilated facade.
The installation of a ventilated facade generates little waste, since when installing it it is not necessary to remove previous walls. The system is placed simply on old structures, a fact that makes it an ideal solution when it comes to rehabilitating a farm and giving it new life.
A ventilated facade updatesall kinds of real estate and rehabilitation, is always much more respectful to the environment than a new construction. It is because it consumes less resources and creates less waste. It is also self-cleaning facades that remain looking good just because of rainwater.
Installing a ventilated facade system in a building is an operation that does not require the activation of large work devices, since the assembly of the parts is done through the use of hooks and mechanical fastening systems. In addition, in case of damage, it is only necessary to remove the damaged plate and replace it with another, which is particularly inexpensive and very fast. Also, the system can effectively hide in the air chamber all types of wiring and service lines without the need to open regattas on the wall.
The installation of this type of constructive enclosure system is however, a task that should always be performed by specialists. Which is greatly simplified if, before starting the work, the needs of anchors and their distribution are well calculated. This ensures optimum placement and top quality finishes and the installation times are drastically reduced.