038 RCI 0417

RCI April 2017

CLADDING & SHEETING Cutting remarks Fibre cement rainscreen cladding is growing in popularity and for good reason. I feel its benefits are many; excellent weather protection – hence the name – improved energy efficiency and decorative ability, and it is in this area that we are discovering how versatile it is as a building material through the creative potential it offers. Realising a creative vision involves the work of many people. In the construction trade a finished building will have been a collaborative effort involving the input of the whole supply chain and when finished everyone is entitled to take a bit of credit for the result. While the architect of any project is rightly lauded for the artistic vision, often the other contributors to a building can be forgotten. As a cladding supplier the projects we have been involved with have attracted their fair share of praise. This is gratifying but we also recognise that without the role of a good cladding cutter merchant our contribution to a project would be, in the main, much harder to accomplish. It is important for the supply chain to work together and in our experience, the cutter merchant on a large format cladding project, provides a vital link between the cladding manufacturer and the installer. Challenges Large format cladding panels tend to be at the more expensive end of the building product spectrum. That said, fibre cement is not as costly as some other materials such as stone laminates or resin-based materials that are sometimes used on projects. All of these panels, whatever the material, will at some point have to be installed around apertures, at façade ends and gables, parapets etc, and with an imaginative architect the cladding may also need to be fabricated into special geometric shapes to meet the proposed design. Panels may also have to blend and integrate with other materials and be cut accordingly. Whatever the design, large format cladding panels will need to be adapted and also drilled for fixing. This is a specialist job that can only be carried out properly with professional grade equipment. Many cladding panels can only be tooled with diamond-tipped saws or holed with an equivalent high-grade drilling machine. With all the vagaries of a typical construction site – often bad weather, lots of dirt, a dearth of flat surfaces, lack of space – these jobs are very difficult to do on-site. The fashion for architects to pursue interesting designs makes the panel fabrication more critical. This can be especially so if the product you are using has a surface coating, as many of Cembrit’s products do. Once a surface-coated board has been cut it will then need to be sealed properly which is not something that is easily do-able on site. The controlled environment of a cutter merchant is a much better place to properly carry out these tasks. After all, the whole supply chain in both directions, from architect through to installer, is relying on a well finished product if the end client is going to be satisfied. Knowledge One of the other benefits of a cutter merchant is the knowledge they can bring to the cladding system as a whole. While the façade is the visible element of any scheme, all projects rely on a good fixing system to ensure that all panels are secure and everything fits together perfectly. This includes panels, as well as the brackets and rail system in aluminium or steel. The merchant can also supply everything i.e. panels plus the fixing system to ensure that everything is compatible. The merchant will also ensure that all materials are supplied at the right time as cladding projects can be long running affairs. You can think of it as a façade by façade basis, rather than the whole building in one go. With such a professional approach to scheduling and supply it takes the pressure off of the client and main contractor. Wendell Park School A new extension project at Wendell Park School in London features two colourful and bright exterior canopies that provide a contemporary look to the existing Victorian building. Like a vast number of schools, they have recently recognised the opportunity that modern cladding presents to create an innovative and exciting building that can inspire and engage students and staff alike. The school was originally built over a century ago with its first wing being completed in 1901; a second was completed in the 1950s albeit in a different style to the original. That, coupled with a lack of investment and ad-hoc refurbishments over the years, left the school in desperate need of a well-planned and top quality extension. Designed by architect de Metz Forbes Knight, the school now has two new contemporary looking canopies for the entrance and play areas. The extensions feature an eyecatching ‘port hole’ window which was cut off-site by Marco Industries of Sittingbourne, one of the leading cutter merchants in the UK. Greg King from Rainscreen Solutions, the onsite contractor for the project, gave his reasons for choosing Cembrit. “I’ve been in the cladding business for some time now and throughout my time in the industry I’ve realised the quality that comes with Cembrit products is on a different level. The façade is a colourful, high impact resistance cladding that will not buckle when struck, making it ideally suited to the rigors of traditional construction and school building projects. Coupled with Marco’s highly efficient service Cembrit was the perfect choice.” Realising the vision for a façade design requires a genuinely collaborative approach that includes good communication and teamwork between manufacturer, cutter merchant and installer. The growth in the use of rainscreen cladding in the UK is a testament to how mature and professional the market has become. As Ray Connolly of Marco Industries said: “We are one of a select group of companies expert in this aspect of UK construction. We see ourselves as the second operations department of the cladding manufacturers we partner. I believe this is not the same elsewhere in Europe. At Marco we have 35,000ft of storage space, four flat bed saws, two routing machines and a fleet of vehicles specially chosen to handle the large format panels. These particular vehicles are required so as to cope with the awkwardness of entering building sites that are predominantly located in restricted inner city areas. We are always pleased to work with forward-looking and expanding manufacturers such as Cembrit.” www.cembrit.co.uk www.marcoindustries.co.uk 038 APRIL 2017 RCIMAG.COM Ged Ferris, of Cembrit, outlines the benefits to the supply chain of having a good cutter merchant on a cladding project Wendell Park school


RCI April 2017
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