• Lorne Ricketts
    RDH Building Science
  • Jun Tatara
    RDH Building Science

As the construction industry moves toward more energy-efficient buildings, exterior insulation has been recognized as an effective solution for increasing the thermal performance of wall assemblies. Previous research and in-situ performance have shown that using only screws directly through exterior insulation to provide cladding attachment is a thermally and structurally efficient solution for wood-frame walls (Baker and Lepage 2014). For steel-frame walls, however, there is still scepticism regarding this method of cladding support, and cladding attachment clips are currently the more common solution.

This study focused on the impact of density and thickness of insulation materials on the structural performance of a cladding attachment system where the exterior insulation is installed and held in place using only screws and steel furring fastened in to a steel stud back-up wall. In particular, this study investigated the use of exterior stone wool insulation, which may be perceived as insufficiently rigid in comparison to competing foam plastic insulations such as extruded polystyrene insulation (XPS) for this type of insulation and cladding installation approach. In addition to the structural performance, airtightness, water penetration, and constructability considerations of this system are also discussed.

Overall the study aims to provide important information for the industry as to the viability of the screws through exterior insulation cladding attachment approach in steel stud wall applications to facilitate the expanded use of exterior insulation as part of non-combustible wall assembly design. This study found that insulation thickness to be the most impactful on the measured load-deflection response of the system; however, the load-deflection response was typically similar and sufficiently strong and stiff within the range of typical cladding weights such that this system would likely be able to provide sufficient cladding support for the insulation thicknesses tested.

Note: This article was published in Proceedings of Buildings XIV, 2019. Copyright 2019 ASHRAE. Reprinted by permission at rdh.com. This article may not be copied and/or distributed electronically or in paper form without permission of ASHRAE. For more information about the Buildings XIV Conference, visit this page.

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