Rain screens have been used around the world since the 1960s, but they are just now starting to hit the U.S. market. RFJ is one of the only companies presently installing rain screens on commercial buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area.
RFJ Meiswinkel has worked on two projects in San Francisco installing rain screens. One of the products used in both of these projects is designed by Swisspearl out of Switzerland and distributed by the Cladding Corporation.
“95% of Swisspearl® cement composite is made up of natural raw materials from the Swiss mountains: cement, pulverized limestone, water and air…
Swisspearl® cement composite panels are manufactured with low energy and a high level of environmental awareness. The manufacturing process based on a closed water cycle and a slow natural 28 days curing time requires little energy. Within the factory, panels are only transported by electric lifting trucks , – i.e. no colloid dust. The panels are 100% environmentally friendly since neither the raw materials nor the production process contain any dangerous substances”…From the Swisspearl website.
The Swisspearl fiber cement rain screens come in many different colors and textures and is considered the top of the line in rain screens.
The reason for rain screens is multipurpose. They work at preventing thermal bridges, which is a cause of mold in newer construction. They work to reflect heat off the building and protect temperature variations, this helps to keep interior building temperatures consistent, helping with building energy management. They get their name because they work as a rain screen, preventing water from intruding and keeping the structural walls and exterior insulation completely dry.
On the Rene Cazenave job RFJ utilized two different rain screens. The gray panels are Minerit by American Fiber Cement Company and purchased from Foundry Service Company. Minerit is made in Finland of clean and non-hazardous raw materials, designed to withstand wear and extreme weather conditions. In addition, Minerit boards are non-combustible. Minerit boards only come in gray.
These products are available for residential use as well. RFJ Meiswinkel looks forward to working on more of these projects with new and exciting building materials that are helping with energy efficiency and look great as well.