Field-Fabricated Installation Systems

Our drained and back-ventilated field-fabricated installation systems provide designers and installers with the optimal solution to meet the challenges associated with achieving a code-compliant exterior wall envelope.

Before we present the details of the solution, let’s examine the complexity of these code challenges.

Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) panels are commonly used as the aesthetic covering for the exterior wall portion of a building envelope.

The exterior wall envelope plays a multi-functional role in the performance of the overall building envelope and must accomplish the following:

  • Manage moisture flow (liquid water and water vapor) through the exterior wall
  • Minimize the impact of exterior air temperature on interior conditioned space
  • Retain the majority of building-generated heat or conditioned air
  • Control the spread of fire across the exterior
  • Provide structural support for an aesthetic veneer system

The International Building Code (IBC) has established performance requirements for water management, thermal performance, and fire resistance for exterior wall envelopes. Unfortunately, complying with these building code performance requirements forces designers and installers into a complex balancing act. Meeting any one performance requirement in isolation of the others can lead to a conflict or unbuildable condition. Achieving a code-compliant ACM veneer assembly often requires the use of proprietary solutions that involve complex detailing and planning, thereby increasing labor and material costs while reducing the flexibility for making adjustments during construction.


Section 1403 of the IBC requires that exterior walls provide a weather-resistant exterior envelope that prevents the accumulation of water within the wall assembly and provides a means for draining water to the exterior of the wall assembly. What the code does not explicitly state is that there must be a means to promote drying of excess water that primary water controls (i.e., flashings) are not able to completely manage out of the wall assembly. Drying of excess water is achieved through the introduction of ventilation to promote air flow within the cavity behind the exterior veneer system.

The term “Drained and Back-Ventilated” is derived from the requirements that exterior walls must allow for drainage behind the exterior veneer system to prevent bulk water accumulation and provide ventilation as a means to keep the wall assembly dry.

Chapter 13 of the IBC requires that buildings be designed and constructed in accordance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). While the IECC offers its own compliance criteria for commercial energy efficiency, it recognizes ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.”

ACM is classified as a combustible material and is therefore subject to limitations when installed on buildings other than Type V construction. Per Section 1407 of the IBC, unless specific exemption criteria are met, all ACM systems must be tested for compliance with NFPA 285 “Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components.”

Foam plastic is one of the products commonly used to provide the now requisite layer of continuous insulation in exterior wall assemblies. Foam plastic insulation is a petroleum-based product that will combust with sufficient heat, therefore triggering the requirement for exterior wall assemblies with foam plastic insulation to be compliant with NFPA 285 regardless of whether the ACM veneer portion of the assembly meets the Section 1407 exemption criteria.


Laminators’ drained and back-ventilated, field-fabricated installation systems (1-Piece, Tight-Fit Molding; Clip & Caulk™) use aluminum extrusions as sub-framing members to create a 7/8″-deep cavity behind the panel veneer.

This provides a number of benefits:

  • Additional cavity space improves air flow
  • A drainage path is easily achieved through gaps in the aluminum sub-framing members
  • Maintains the aesthetic familiarity of Laminators’ legacy systems while refining system performance through improved moisture management and the allowance for air exchange

Omega CI is a rigid continuously insulated structural system comprising a polyisocyanurate (“polyiso”) foam bonded to a premium performance glass backer and a 5/8″ fire treated plywood face. Omega CI is available in 4’ x 8’ sheets and 2.1” overall thickness, providing R-9.6 for IECC/ASHRAE 90.1 prescriptive continuous insulation requirements.

  • The plywood layer provides a dimensionally stable substrate by normalizing attachment loads (avoiding deformation of the rigid foam insulation) and is also fire-treated to allow for NFPA 285 compliance
  • The foam insulation layer provides thermal resistance to achieve the desired R-value for the wall assembly without causing thermal bridging

Combining our drained and back-ventilated, field-fabricated installation systems with Omega CI and an air and water barrier offers a simple design solution for installations requiring continuous insulation while maintaining code-mandated performance requirements for water control and fire resistance.

  • Systems install directly to the plywood sheathing layer of Omega CI
  • Removes complex detailing and extensive planning associated with most proprietary solutions for installation of ACM veneer systems over continuous insulation
  • Members can easily be relocated during construction providing installers with the flexibility necessary to accommodate changing field conditions
  • Gives designers and installers the freedom to choose any air and water barrier product that can be installed over plywood sheathing (NFPA 285 requirements were met using Barritech VP)
  • Panel adhesive interfaces directly with sub-framing members; removes the potential for product incompatibility with air and water barrier

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