What if you could save time and money on maintenance for your commercial building? The commercial siding options and materials you work with could play a big role in doing just that.
You can cut down significant time and cost for maintenance on your building when you build with the right materials, but it also helps to have a future-focused design strategy in mind.
Exterior cladding options are endless, which can make finding the best materials for your project a little overwhelming. But by making future maintenance a top priority, building owners can narrow down their options exclusively to those that are proven, reliable materials and systems for building protection.
It helps to determine which materials have the best quality: maintenance ratio; something that is already a consideration in today’s green building climate. Reliable materials help designers deliver greener buildings, but what happens after project completion?
“Sustainability is an important aspect of the O&M process. A well run O&M program should conserve energy and water and be resource efficient while meeting the comfort, health and safety requirements of the building occupants,” according to the WBDG.
Building owners can consider if the materials they work with are eco-conscious and conservative of resources: that includes the time and cost to maintain materials down the line.
While it’s recommended that all commercial exteriors be inspected on an annual basis, for some commercial exterior cladding, there’s additional maintenance that might be necessary. Let’s examine those instances …
Stucco (and now EIFS) have long been popular in commercial design because they’re widely available and inexpensive cladding options. However, while these materials can be long-lasting, they require a lot of costly and time-consuming maintenance, or else they can fade and deteriorate quickly. Plus, installing stucco/EIFS cladding is weather dependent, so you could be waiting weeks for the right conditions.
Aluminum is sturdier than vinyl and can last longer, but “[u]nlike other materials, aluminum can become scratched, pitted, or dented,” according to Bob Vila. Additionally, the finish on many aluminum siding exteriors tends to fade over time, which eventually requires refinishing or replacement.
Brick offers a considerably low-maintenance exterior, and if you don’t paint the brick, it won’t require as much upkeep. The downside is the cost and installation. Like other masonry materials (such as stucco and concrete), brick installation requires additional labor (and cost) for construction and the process is weather-dependent.
Glass is a sleek, stylish and modern exterior look, but for many building owners, the cost of installation and maintenance can be a big drawback.
“Commercial architecture has developed in a way that embraces large walls of plate glass, but that can be a huge pain for those maintaining the facility once built. Dirt, oils and other grime is easily visible on transparent windows, and in order to keep a professional appearance, regular cleaning is needed,” says the building maintenance experts at City Wide.
Luckily, there are other types of commercial cladding options that offer the promise of low maintenance and high quality.
Finding low maintenance solutions for your commercial building might require some strategic thinking. But facility managers and building owners have a few ways to approach future exterior maintenance.
1. If you’re set on a traditional brick look or need a modern glass exterior for your commercial building, there might be low-maintenance cladding alternatives for the more traditional materials you want.
Fiber cement cladding offers a viable option for building owners who want a unique design without all the maintenance or repairs. That’s because fiber cement is a composite material, made from cement and cellulose fibers. It’s as simple to install but offers high performing protection and has little maintenance required.
Fiber cement has also been used for an array of commercial cladding styles: anything from wood siding to metallic details to designs that mimic brick and stone. Nichiha offers their Miria architectural wall panels for those who want a glass exterior without the price. It has a reflective, high-gloss finish that’s perfect for sleek, modern designs.
2. Choose materials that make maintenance even easier. Nichiha panels have a simplified installation process thanks to their Ultimate Starter Track and Ultimate Clip System, which creates a rainscreen that provides the exterior sheathing with drainage and ventilation. This reduces the risk of water damage and mold, which can add to maintenance and repair costs down the line. So you get drainage protection and a faster installation process (equaling lower labor costs) all in one, high-performing package.
3. Plan for design success by mapping out your maintenance. The Whole Building Design Guide recommends that building owners and operators establish processes and systems (or have an O&M Manual) for maintenance to guarantee the health of the building:
“O&M Manuals provide procedures to operate and maintain a facility's various systems and equipment. It is important to analyze and evaluate a facility from the system level, then develop procedures to attain the most efficient systems integration, based on as-built information and the Maintenance Program philosophy.”
4. Remember, there’s no such thing as zero maintenance. All buildings require periodic cleaning and upkeep, and you should check on your exterior after severe weather or storms to ensure there isn’t any substantial damage to address. For Nichiha panels, all that’s required is mild detergent and water, along with a soft brush to scrub away debris, followed by a rinse with a common garden hose (no pressure washing needed!)
Over the last few decades, fiber cement design has gained wide popularity with both residential and commercial buildings. It’s been used to protect homes, schools and commercial projects across the globe, and we’re excited to see what future designs are in store! Take a look at Nichiha’s gallery for more ideas on how to protect your commercial building with style.