What is a Rainscreen Wall System & How Do They Work?

In today’s discussions about optimizing a building’s overall performance, architects, designers, and contractors are increasingly focusing on superior moisture management and energy efficiency. Rainscreens have emerged as a pivotal solution in this context. They not only significantly enhance a building’s energy efficiency but also provide essential protection for the primary building envelope, making them an indispensable component in modern construction practices.

What is a Rainscreen Wall?

Credit: RAiNA

According to RAiNA (The Rainscreen Association in North America), “A rainscreen is defined as an assembly applied to an exterior wall which consists of, at minimum, an outer layer, an inner layer, and a cavity between them sufficient for the passive removal of liquid water and water vapor.” Rainscreens are effective at managing moisture and provide exceptional opportunities for energy-efficient performance via continuous insulation and reducing thermal bridging. Assemblies that fall into this definition range from masonry, to clip and rail, and pressure-equalized systems.

Rainscreens are a critical step in the building assembly. After surveying companies, asking them what the most problematic terminology they struggled with while facing customers/stakeholders and at what frequency, RAiNA’s Definitions Committee took great care to formulate the rainscreen definition. After identifying 189 terms problematic, the Committee came to the conclusion that a comprehensive definition of rainscreen was necessary to bridge the communication gap within the construction industry.

How Does a Rainscreen Wall Work?

Museum Of The American Arts & Crafts in St. Petersburg, FL, built with NVELOPE NV1 & NH2 Systems to withstand the various weather conditions along the FL Gulf coast. Click HERE for case study.

A rainscreen wall is a construction system designed to protect buildings from water intrusion while providing a means for moisture to escape and air to circulate, thereby enhancing the durability and energy efficiency of the structure. It is an exterior cladding infrastructure that sits away from a building’s exterior wall’s water-resistant barrier, creating an air cavity directly behind the cladding which is vented at both the top and bottom of the wall so it helps to protect the building’s important envelope.

The key components and mechanism of rainscreens include:

  • Exterior Cladding – the outermost layer acting as a shield from direct rain impact
  • Air Gap – exists between the exterior cladding and the inner layers of the wall allowing for ventilation and helping to dry out any moisture that penetrates the cladding
  • Water-Resistive Barrier (WRB) – typically a water-resistant barrier such as a house wrap that lies behind the air gap providing an additional one of defense against moisture
  • Drainage Plane – found within the air gap, allowing for water to flow down and out through weep holes or flashing at the base of the wall
  • Thermal Insulation – typically placed in the cavity or on the interior side of the WRB to help maintain the energy efficiency of the building
  • Vapor Barrier – used in climates where vapor control is crucial

These components enable the rainscreen to deflect, drain, dry and equalize the pressure, allowing an important layer of protection of the building envelope.

Benefits of Integrating Rainscreen Walls

Enhanced Design Flexibility and Durability

  • Provides great design flexibility, works with a limitless variety of options for simplified detailing and transitioning between cladding materials.
  • By preventing moisture intrusion and facilitating drying, rainscreen walls extend the lifespan of the building materials and structure.
Elliot Towers by Pac-Clad; Metal wall cladding add both insulating value and upscale visual flair

Improved Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

  • Water vapor behind cladding and insulation can escape by means of evaporation.
  • Helps reduce hot and cold air and thermal movement through the wall, reducing energy costs.
  • Enables more insulation, within the stud cavity and more effectively on the exterior of the wall.
  • Reduction in the buildings dead load by use of lightweight cladding options versus traditional building materials (i.e. brick veneer, etc.).

Reduced Maintenance

  • By keeping the structural elements dry and preventing moisture-related damage, rainscreen walls reduce the need for maintenance and repairs.
  • Air space between exterior cladding and drainage plane helps drainage and facilitates ventilation and drying.

Register for METALCON’s Rainscreen Wall Courses to Learn More!

In four short months, industry professionals will gather at METALCON 2024 in Atlanta, GA, to learn, network and see the latest innovations in the metal construction and design industry. “Providing education on building performance at METALCON is essential,” says Judy Geller, Vice President, METALCON. “It will help building and design professionals address performance challenges, mitigate risks and enhance resilience leading to cost savings over the lifespan of the building. Standards and codes specific to the building site provide a helpful path to improving building performance. Understanding the performance capabilities of products used in construction will certainly help building and design professionals erect higher-performing buildings.”

Learn more about overall building performance and the role rainscreens play by registering for METALCON today. Check out these FREE education courses being offered:

This is the last month for early bird pricing – REGISTER for METALCON today.

METALCON Online Free Webinar takes Closer Look at Rainscreens

Last year, METLACONLive! and RAiNA teamed up to present “What Makes Rainscreen Walls Work.” RAiNA Chair, Todd Kimmel, CPHD, CDT, provides a comprehensive understanding of how rainscreen walls work and their key benefits. You can watch from METALCON’s ON DEMAND library at your convenience and earn 1.0 AIA LU HSW credit.

WATCH ON DEMAND

Share:

More Posts from the METALCON blog:

Cash Flow in Construction Industry 101: Your Helpful Guide

Cash flow management is a critical aspect of any construction project. In today’s blog, we offer a helpful guide to cash flow in the construction industry. Continue your education on cash flow either in person at METALCON 2024 or through METALCON Online. Register today for leading expert Thea Dudley’s session at METALCON, “Accounts Receivable and Cashflow Assessing: Shooting down the Top 10 Cashflow Killers.”

Read More »

METALCON Newsletter June 2024

KEYNOTES ANNOUNCED FOR METALCON 2024 METALCON is thrilled to announce its keynote addresses, featuring three dynamic speakers who will offer unique insights and strategies for success. On Wednesday, legendary NFL quarterback turned entrepreneur Joe Theismann will kick off with his inspiring “Game Plan for Success,” sharing lessons from the gridiron that apply to business and beyond. Following this, on Thursday, renowned economist and former chair of the Maryland Economic Development Commission, Dr. Anirban Basu, will tackle “The Good, the Bad,

Read More »

METALCON Announces Show Highlights & Educational Programming for Atlanta

(Newton, Mass., – June 20, 2024) — METALCON, announces its program line-up for this year’s annual conference and tradeshow scheduled from Wednesday, Oct. 30 to Friday, Nov. 1 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. From intensive pre-show workshops beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 29 to 35+ free educational sessions conveniently located inside the exhibit hall to inspiring keynotes, top industry experts will share their knowledge with attendees who are eligible to earn nearly a year’s worth of continuing education

Read More »

What is Metal Fabrication?

Metal Fabrication serves as the backbone for various sectors with the construction industry being one of the largest consumers of fabricated metal products. Learn more about this multi-billion dollar industry, the processes and latest advancements. Also learn how you can register for METALCON where dozens of metal fabricators will gather in late October.

Read More »

METALCON presentations focus on ‘building performance’

NEWTON, Mass., June 5, 2024 — For any construction project, the goal has always been using top quality building materials for the best price. It’s all about “building performance.” “Providing education on building performance at METALCON is essential,” says Judy Geller, Vice President, METALCON. “It will help building and design professionals address performance challenges, mitigate risks and enhance resilience leading to cost savings over the lifespan of the building. Standards and codes specific to the building site provide a helpful

Read More »

METALCON Announces Keynote and Special Session Speakers for Upcoming 2024 Conference

Attendees can look forward to being educated, informed, and inspired by the captivating keynote and special session speakers. Newton, MA: METALCON, the premier event for the metal construction industry, has announced the keynote and special session speakers for this year’s conference, which will be held from October 30th to November 1st in Atlanta, GA. Attendees can anticipate a series of compelling presentations designed to educate, inform, and inspire. Premier Keynote On Wednesday, October 30th, former NFL MVP Quarterback and Super

Read More »

Metal Construction Industry 101: Diving Into the Emerging Trends of 2024

Metal Construction Industry 101: Dive into the fundamentals of metal construction and get up to date on current and emerging trends is crucial for industry professionals. Explore these topics by watching the recent Metal Construction Industry 101 webinar with experts Todd Miller and Lauren Rubino. Learn why attending the METALCON trade show is essential, especially for future leaders in the industry.

Read More »

Honoring Those Who Have Served on Memorial Day: METALCON’s Commitment to Giving Back

On this Memorial Day, we take a moment to honor those who have laid down their lives in service to our nation, ensuring the freedoms we enjoy today. Over the years, METALCON has built a strong tradition of giving back, raising funds, and providing much-needed assistance to those who have served in the military. Join us once again in our annual fundraising efforts to benefit Semper Fi & America’s Fund. Donate online or in person at METALCON 2024.

Read More »

Why Metal for Low Slope Roofing

Learn the distinction between low slope and steep slope roofs and why metal is the most popular choice for low slope roofs. Dive into the specifics and also learn how you can receive a training certificate from one of the industry’s leading experts on the subject at METALCON 2024.

Read More »