Frequently Asked Questions about Insulated Metal Panels
1. What is an insulated metal panel?
An insulated metal panel (IMP) is a strong single unit constructed of a rigid foam core sandwiched between two sheets of coated metal that provides an exceptionally strong building enclosure. It is a cost competitive, visually appealing, high performance system that can provide quick building enclosure and long-term low maintenance.
The IMP’s unique combination of impermeability, excellent thermal performance and visual appeal makes it a better choice than other exterior finish options such as stucco, masonry or pre-cast concrete.
2. In what applications can IMPs be used?
Insulated metal panels are chosen for commercial, industrial, institutional and cold storage applications for their excellent performance characteristics and competitive in-place costs.
Structures such as airplane hangars, banks, convention centers, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, museums, office buildings, schools, sports facilities, and religious structures, cold storage and food processing facilities have proven to be excellent applications for IMPs.
3. How are IMPs manufactured?
Most IMPs are factory manufactured using a foamed-in-place process. Foam is applied as a liquid or froth, between the sheets of metal. It undergoes a chemical reaction causing it to rise and bond to the metal skins, filling the interior cavity, creating a solid monolithic panel that maintains a consistent thermal value and resists moisture, insect and rodent infiltration.
IMPs can also be manufactured by a laminating process. In this method, pre-cured foam board stock is adhered to preformed metal facers with structural adhesives and placed under pressure in a platen press or pinch-roll operation.
With both types of IMPs a factory controlled, uniform foam thickness provides consistent insulation performance; all IMPs can be produced in a variety of styles and sizes depending on application.
4. Why is an IMP thermally efficient?
The durable metal panel facings resist damage and create a vapor barrier that offers long-term thermal stability. The IMP has proven R-values from R-14 to R-48 in a variety of building types, and built-in thermal breaks that significantly improve the energy efficiency of buildings, thus reducing heating and cooling costs for building owners. Additionally, insulated metal panels are placed outboard of the structural supports thereby creating a continuous thermal barrier for maximum thermal efficiency.
IMPs also reduce airflow in and out of the building envelope, which helps improve HVAC performance. This enhancement may potentially contribute to points for Optimized Energy Performance if the building is aiming for certification in the USGBC’s LEED program. IMPs also help the environment by reducing or eliminating field cutting and material waste.
5. How does an IMP improve construction quality and timing?
Because the IMP is a single building element, it speeds up project completion and can be installed in almost any kind of weather without risk to system integrity. This is in contrast to multiple steps usually needed to field assemble and install other insulated wall systems. IMPs are installed using concealed clips and fasteners, which complete a system that includes the vapor barrier, air barrier, and water barrier along with a high efficiency insulated core, thus reducing the need for multiple components.
6. Can IMPs help qualify for points in LEED or other green building guidelines?
Yes, IMPs can help qualify for green building points in several ways.
IMPs reduce airflow in and out of the building envelope, which helps improve HVAC performance. This enhancement may potentially contribute points for Optimized Energy Performance if the building is aiming for certification in the USGBC’s LEED program. IMPs also help the environment by reducing or eliminating field cutting and material waste.
Typically the metal used in IMPs contains at least 25% recycled content and up to 80% depending on the metal and how much scrap content it has. This can raise the building’s overall average recycled content and help contribute to LEED points under Material and Resources Credit 4, Recycled Content.
IMPs are part of the envelope energy simulation calculations and can qualify for LEED points under Energy and Atmosphere Credits, Optimize Energy Performance.
IMPs integrated into a building's overall design can contribute to points for Innovation and Design if the building's design team applies strategies or measures that demonstrate such performance.
7. What factors affect upfront and long-term costs?
The lightweight nature of IMPs translates to savings on framing and foundation. They are designed to meet the most demanding performance requirements, which, when combined with the inherent benefits of metal facings, requires less maintenance than any other exterior building system.
For more details about performance criteria, panel thicknesses and finish options, click here.
8. What about design options?
Architecturally, IMPs offer many design options because they are available in various joint sizes, in curved and formed panels, and with a variety of high performance coatings and surface textures. The most widely used IMPs range from 1 to 4 inches thick, but manufacturers can provide thicker panels for thermal applications.
The metal skins come in a multitude of colors and textures for both exterior and interior needs. Interior coatings also provide easy cleaning and washing as well as high light reflectivity.
For more information, click here for Summary of IMP features and benefits.