Everything You Need to Know About ACM Panels

We recently published an article comparing siding materials. However, we thought it was worth paying some attention to the issue, so today, we will take a little deeper look at ACM panels, which have been gaining a lot of popularity in Chicago in recent years. Are ACM panels a good choice? What should you pay attention to when choosing those? You’ll find out everything in this article.

What are ACM Panels?

everything you need to know about acm panels

ACM (Aluminum Composite Material) is an innovative building material used in wall cladding. This solution is also known as “sandwich panels” and has been in development for about 40 years, but in residential construction we have been dealing with it for a relatively short time.

everything you need to know about acm panels

Each panel consists of 3 layers:

  • Outer layer – a thin sheet of aluminum covered with veneer or lacquer, which gives the panel a certain color and texture;
  • Middle layer – a thermoplastic core, the purpose of which is to insulate thermally and strengthen the entire structure;
  • The outer layer – a second thin sheet of aluminum sheeting that encloses the entire structure in a whole.

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Where did the ACM Panels come from?

The history of Aluminum Composte Material panels (ACM panels) dates back to the 1960s. Designers tried to create a lightweight, durable and at the same time aesthetically pleasing building material, although initially, no one thought of creating solutions for residential construction. The panels were used for billboards, and only after a while did they begin to be used to create facades for large commercial buildings, such as office buildings, factories and warehouses.

With advances in technology, architects have begun to experiment with the use of ACM panels in residential projects, although so far, this material is more often found on modern office buildings. All signs indicate that the popularity of sandwich panels will only grow.

Mechanical Parameters of ACM Panels

The sandwich structure makes ACM a very strong material. Very importantly, the layers of aluminum give the panels flexibility, while the core stabilizes the entire structure. ACM Panels can be bent to some extent, although with their properties they resemble a thick steel sheet rather than a sheet of paper. The range of ACM’s manufacturers varies, but there are two standards for panel thicknesses on the market – 3mm and 6mm (0.11 and 0.22 inches). These are relatively few, making the protagonist of our today’s article very lightweight – the panels can be easily moved, making installation very easy.

One side of ACM panels is usually coated with a special varnish, which is responsible for their external appearance. In the vast majority, the coating is uniform in color and smooth, but you can buy panels that resemble wood or brushed aluminum. The range of their manufacturers is really wide, although only a few companies dominate the market.

Resistance to Outdoor Conditions

everything you need to know about acm panels

The structure of ACM panels makes it an excellent siding material for use in climates typical of Chicago. Due to the use of aluminum, we can talk about 20-30 years of comfortable use without the need to replace any elements of the facade. The panels are not sensitive to UV radiation, temperature changes, water or smaller mechanical damage such as hail. A well-made wall cladding with ACM panels should also be resistant to moisture, which is very important due to the proximity of large lakes in our area.

A certain disadvantage of ACM panels is their smooth surface – if you opt for a light color, you must expect the need for regular cleaning. In return, such a procedure should not pose major difficulties – all you need is a suitable chemical and a pressure washer, with the help of which you can effectively get rid of dust and dirt.

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One of the few major drawbacks of ACM panels is their susceptibility to fire – due to their composite interior, which is usually made of polyethylene, in the event of a fire, the entire facade can suffer very serious damage. Sometimes ACM panels cannot be used precisely because of safety regulations.

On the other hand, ACM panels, during normal use, do not emit any harmful compounds, have no sharp edges or are not prone to mold. This makes, as a rule, this form of siding completely safe for you and your family.

Are ACM Panels Expensive?

are acm panels good?

Generally speaking, yes, ACM panels are a fairly expensive material, although their installation is quite cheap. The high initial cost of this investment is due, among other things, to the relatively low competition in the market, the high price of aluminum, and the rather complicated manufacturing process, which requires precision. On the other hand, it is a justifiable expense, since ACM panels are of very high quality, their operation is long and trouble-free, and defects are virtually non-existent. In exchange for a slightly higher price, you get a very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing siding, so in the end, you will most likely be satisfied with your purchase.

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How Much do ACM Panels Cost?

As with other building materials, there are huge differences on every level between specific models of ACM panels, and price is no exception to this. Currently, basic sandwich panels can be purchased for around $15-18 as well as $30-35 per sqft. The price depends on several factors, such as the thickness, size of the panels and the reputation of the manufacturer.

Top Manufacturers of ACM Panels

Among the most popular manufacturers of ACM panels are:

  • Reynobond;
  • Alucobond;
  • Vitrabond;
  • Maxbond;
  • Alpolic;

We could expand this list, but practice shows that more than half of our customers choose the products of one company – Reynobond.

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Pros and Cons of ACM Panels

Let’s summarize the most important features of ACM panels:

Pros of ACM Panels

  • Durability – panels are highly resistant to hail, UV radiation, water and other external factors;
  • Aesthetics – due to vast possibilities of personalization, you are sure to find the right color for your project;
  • Longevity – Up to 50 years of warranty, the materials used and our past experience suggest to us that ACM panels are the choice for years of typical use;
  • Insulating properties – due to the internal insulation layer, panels made with ACM technology retain heat very well, reducing the cost of heating and cooling the building;

Cons of ACM Panels

  • Initial cost – in most cases, conventional vinyl siding will be noticeably cheaper than sandwich panels;
  • Susceptibility to dirt – ACM’s often have bright colors on which any contamination is very visible;

Is it Worth Choosing ACM Panels?

everything you need to know about acm panels

So far, ACM’s seem to be a very good choice – they are durable, elegant, their installation is not expensive, and the slightly higher purchase price is justified due to their longevity. If you consciously agree to the inconvenience of regular cleaning, you should be very happy with the purchase of ACM panels, although when deciding on this investment, you must remember to choose the right siding installer, who will take care of the quality of installation. This service is really not worth saving on.

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