The term “wall panel” can be applied to a wide variety of sandwich panel products. In this article we will discuss a few of the most common wall panel systems used in residential and commercial construction.
Shear Wall Panels
Shear wall panels provide structure for a building. Generally, a shear wall panel will come in 4x8 ft sheets, composed of OSB (oriented strand board) and wood fiber mixed with fire-safe resin. These materials are then tightly laminated together. This wall panel, when firmly affixed to a building’s framing, provides a great deal of shear strength to the structure.
The shear wall panel provides a layer of “stiffness” between the floor and the ceiling; so if the base of the house were to move (as in an earthquake), the wall panels would prevent “flexing”, thus keeping the structure intact. Building codes in earthquake prone areas, such as Southern California, require the installation of shear wall panels.
Decorative Wall Panel
Interior wall panel systems used for decorative use are becoming increasingly popular in residential construction. Wainscot panels and other wall paneling systems take advantage of the sandwich structure to conserve costs.
Standard wood wall panels manufactured out of solid wood, although attractive, are extremely expensive. New wall panel systems are most often constructed with inexpensive MDF (medium fiber density) core, with actual hardwood thinly veneered onto the panel. This creates the elegant look of solid wood wall paneling, but helps conserve our wood resources and is far more inexpensive.
Another advantage of this wall panel system, other then cost, is that installation can be minimal due to prefabrication. Wall panels are now pre-cut and pre-machined in the factory with all the stiles and rails to the right dimensions. This minimizes cutting and sanding but still creates a beautiful end product.
Metal Wall Panels
Aluminum and other metal wall panels are a popular choice for interior and exterior commercial use. These panels are often found on large office buildings or big retail centers. An aluminum wall panel provides a sleek and stylish look, but also provides insulation. A true sandwich structure, an aluminum wall panel most often has an isocyanate foam core, bonded between two aluminum skins. Attractive, reasonably priced, easy to install and providing insulation, metal wall panels are increasingly being used in new construction.
Below is a video describing the manufacturing process of aluminum wall panels.