Can HPL Panels Perform Below 10 Feet?
High traffic and abuse-prone areas require durable, cleanable wall panels that can withstand the demands of increased exposure.
Whether that exposure is from installing at pedestrian level below 10 feet or from natural elements like precipitation and UV rays, prioritizing durability and cleanability is the greatest way to maximize your project investment.
In this blog, we will highlight general factors of importance when designing for high traffic applications, and specifically, we will discuss installing high-pressure laminate panels (also called HPL or phenolic panels) at 10 feet and below.
Factors to Consider When Choosing HPL Panels
Whether your project includes installing phenolic panels 10 feet and below (at prime pedestrian height) or as a soffit that soars far above foot traffic, there are a few general factors to keep in mind. Consider the following:
Regardless of whether scratches are incidental or intentional, they are a real threat to wall panels made of weak materials. Scratch-resistant panels are an absolute must when installing phenolic panels 10 feet and below.
Code compliance and fire rating are two important safety considerations for any phenolic wall panel system, and certainly in an installation below 10 feet in a high traffic area. At Fundermax, we are consistently ahead of the curve, rigorously testing our products so that we can offer the peace of mind that comes with local and national code compliance. Additionally, while many panels from other phenolic panel manufacturers have a standard Class B fire rating, all Fundermax Exterior phenolic panels are Class A fire rated.
Weather exposures primarily include precipitation and sunlight. Regarding precipitation, remember that hail damage is not limited to roofs, so hail-resistant phenolic cladding panels will contribute significantly to the durability of a building’s exterior. To demonstrate this point, Fundermax subjected its phenolic cladding panels to a rigorous hail impact resistance test. Hail in the form of ice balls up to 2.75 inches in diameter was shot at 67 mph from a distance of 15 to 20 inches. During the entire test, no breakage, discoloration, chipping, or tearing occurred.
Additionally, the durability of phenolic panels under sun exposure is a critical consideration, and not just for exterior phenolic wall panels. Remember that an interior phenolic wall panel system may be exposed to UV rays through windows and skylights. Be sure to check the greyscale rating of any manufacturer’s phenolic cladding panels, whether interior or exterior. (What is the greyscale? More on that below.)
The lower the installation height, the higher the amount of traffic, and the greater the likelihood of dirt, grime, stains, and graffiti impacting the phenolic cladding panels. In this context, the durability of phenolic panels comes down to the cleanability of phenolic panels. If you plan to install HPL panels 10 feet and below (or any wall panel material, for that matter), it is imperative that you choose a wall panel system that can withstand the harsh cleaners required for dirt, grime, stain, and graffiti removal.
The hygienic, non-porous surfaces of Fundermax panels make for easy cleaning and a strong resistance to chemical exposure. (For more details on cleaning and chemical resistance in Fundermax HPL panels, see here.)
Can You Install HPL Panels 10 Feet and Below?
Specifically, Fundermax phenolic cladding panels are a strong choice for applications from 0-10 feet because they are so durable. This sets us apart from other materials and other phenolic panel manufacturers whose wall panels are limited to installations 10 feet and above.
Our process and materials maximize the durability of phenolic panels. Traffic, dirt, graffiti, scratching, grime, weather, and cleaning chemicals do not impact our panels. That means Fundermax phenolic cladding panels can be installed below 10 feet without concern. These panels are made to handle the wear and tear of high-traffic applications.
How the Durability of Phenolic Panels Saves You Money
Any discussion about saving money should include an assessment of how to get the most value for your dollar. That means, for major purchases like building materials, the best way to save money is to consider the total cost of ownership. Saving money on your initial purchase price won’t mean a lot if the lifetime maintenance costs are through the roof. The durability of phenolic panels results in lifetime costs coming in significantly lower than other materials.
Fundermax phenolic cladding panels are reliably colorfast in both interior and exterior applications, achieving a 4-5 greyscale rating.
What is the greyscale?
Greyscale testing is a method of determining visual changes (i.e. colorfastness) on a surface sample when exposed to accelerated weathering. Surfaces are rated on a scale from 5 (no visual change; best rating) to 1 (large visual change;worst rating). The 9 possible values are 5, 4-5, 4, 3-4, 3, 2-3, 2, 1-2, 1. The industry standard for HPL panels is 3.
Remember that UV rays can cause otherwise tough wall panels to fade if they are not of the highest quality. (Beware of manufacturers with warranties that only cover their product’s durability at certain sun exposures. Fundermax warrants every panel at every angle in any location.)
Fundermax phenolic cladding panels are long-term panels. Phenolic resin panels are manufactured for ultimate durability which results in unparalleled material longevity. Due to the panel composition, HPL panels have a lifespan of 40-60 years. This is good news for building owners and for the environment.
Perhaps even more importantly, maximum longevity can be reached with minimal maintenance.
Whether interior or exterior, different materials require varying degrees of maintenance over time to keep the building looking its best and to protect the integrity of the structure. In applications below 10 feet, particularly in high traffic areas, the necessary maintenance can be extensive.
Not so with a phenolic wall panel system. The scratch-, impact-, and chemical-resistance of HPL panels mean that standard indoor and/or outdoor cleaning protocols are largely effective, and when necessary, the panels can withstand harsh cleaning. These features work together to offer high longevity with minimal maintenance.
Fundermax offers double-sided phenolic resin panels, which means that if a panel becomes damaged beyond repair, it can be flipped to the other side. That means multiplied longevity and, even better, no need for attic stock.
When comparing a phenolic wall panel system to other wall panel options, particularly for high traffic installations, the cleanability and durability of phenolic panels really sets them apart as a long-lasting material and prudent investment. For more information about installing phenolic panels, contact Fundermax today.