Sotech offers a range of rainscreen cladding solutions, from traditional to contemporary, to bring a project to life. Sotech is at the forefront of rainscreen cladding design, having developed a comprehensive suite of systems. Able to support natural materials such as copper, zinc, stainless steel and aluminium, as well as aluminium composite material, our systems provide architects and specifiers an almost limitless choice, enabling their individual design intent to be fully realised.
Rainscreen cladding provides an exterior surface – a cladding layer – that stops the force of wind-driven water movement, preventing it getting through small breaches in the surface of a building. By the time the water reaches the ‘true’ exterior wall, it has lost its drive and therefore its ability to permeate the wall, hence the origins of its name: rainscreen cladding.
The modern concept of rainscreen cladding was developed in Scandinavia during the 1940′s and came into widespread use in Europe and Canada in the 1970′s. Lightweight rainscreen cladding was developed in the UK in the 1980′s, with the majority of the earlier projects being located in the harsh climatic conditions of Scotland.
There are a wide range of benefits to using rainscreen cladding. For example it provides enhanced thermal performance, allowing designers to create very efficient thermal envelopes to meet the highest environmental standards. It is simpler and quicker to install than traditional constructions and provides excellent sustainability benefits to the overall project. Not only is there a lower carbon footprint due to energy savings but a lot of the materials used can be recycled. For example, aluminium is 99.9% recyclable and takes only 15% of the energy used in the original manufacture to recycle the product.
Sotech is proud to manufacture a range of rainscreen cladding systems including:
Several of our Optima Rainscreen Systems have been successfully fire tested to BS8414, classified to BR135 and are safe to use on high rise buildings in conjunction with Euro Class A1 and A2s1-d0 fire rated materials. Our systems are also approved and certified by CWCT.
In recent months, there has been an increased focus on the importance of large scale testing of rainscreen cladding solutions in the construction industry.
From the earliest tests of our Optima TFC system at BRE through to the most recent large-scale testing of bespoke systems in Exova, Dubai, safety has always been our primary focus, alongside outstanding design, flawless finishes and an end to end managed production line.
Full scale system testing involves building a complete model of the proposed build up – including the carrier system, the material, the finish and the firebreaks – and mounting it to a 9 metre demonstration wall to test how it performs under real fire conditions. The aim of the test is to replicate what would happen if a severe fire broke out a window in a block of flats or a story in a high rise building (above 18m).
What’s important in these tests is that the full cladding system is tested as a whole to confirm its effectiveness in slowing and controlling the spread of fire in tall buildings. For this reason, the test must assess the cavity barriers and fire stopping, the effectiveness of the construction design and the outcome of the materials specified in combination.
Rainscreen cladding is a non-loadbearing external cladding assembly defined as ‘a wall comprising an outer skin of panels and an airtight insulated backing wall separated by a ventilated cavity. Some water may penetrate into the cavity but the rainscreen is intended to provide protection from direct rain.’
The cladding system’s inner leaf or structural wall acts as the final barrier to moisture, and insulates the building. The primary air seal of the wall must also be achieved by the support wall or by an applied vapour barrier.
The inner leaf may be constructed of concrete, steel, timber or, on a refurbishment project, the existing outer brick wall. All other facade elements — such as windows, curtain walling and doors — must be sealed to this element in order to ensure compliance with air leakage regulations.
A number of our Optima Rainscreen Systems have been successfully fire tested to BS8414, classified to BR135 and are safe to use on high rise buildings in conjunction with Euro Class A1 and A2s1-d0 fire rated materials. Our systems are also approved and certified by CWCT.
Able to support natural materials as well as aluminium composite materials, our systems provide architects and specifiers an almost limitless choice, enabling their individual design intent to be fully realised. Below is a list of the materials available. Click into each material to find out more about the properties and discover the wide range of colour finishes available.
Safety has always been our primary concern. Sotech’s commitment to authentic engineering capability has been witnessed over several years in the testing of products as they are being developed. All Sotech Optima Rainscreen has been witnessed and certified by CWCT for wind serviceability and safety, air permeability and water penetration. We have completed several successful fire tests and welcome and encourage full scale system testing.
If you require advice with design detail, assistance with a specification or to discuss your project in detail contact our technical department who have over 35 years experience in the construction industry. The team is on hand to provide knowledge and support at every stage of your project.