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"It starts with knowledge..." is more than a motto to us- it's how we do business. Our first goal is to share some of what we have learned about our trade with you.
In today's market, it's becoming more and more common that architects and designers are request that windows and doors come with a clad option. So what exactly is it, and how does it work?
Cladding is an extruded material primarily made from aluminum that is applied to the finished window. In the case of European-designed clad systems, the cladding is affixed with clips and specialized gaskets designed to sharply limit the thermal transfer between the conductive aluminum and the wood- this boosts the thermal performance of the window.
European-style cladding systems have been gaining more and more success in the North American market because of their high-performance, verified by years of testing. After all, the key advantage of wooden windows is their superior performance- so a cladding system has to preserve wood's performance, while providing a sleek metal veneer.
What's widely considered the best method is to create a thermal break between the wood and aluminum through the use of non-conductive clips which keep the metal from directly contacting wood, and allowing air to flow and water to drain between the aluminum and wood layers, which is essential to longevity and performance. Compression gasket application adds another extra line of defense at the glazing stop; another key feature are operable vents which allow for continuous airtightness and water shedding in a thoroughly resistant design.
Designing for Cladding
While it's possible to apply even European-style cladding to an existing window design, it's best done at the early stages of a window design- before tooling has been engineered. Often tooling sets can offer dual functionality for both wood and a wood-clad design if the request is made in the design phase.