Installing AZEK sheets with PaintPro technology and how some high-performing black paints can reflect heat
In the last episode of Building Resilience, we were doing some weird science that wasn’t really science. We had a technical engineering Zoom conference. Better still, we installed the open-joint cladding system from AZEK.
MA: This is a PVC deck board, which we’re repurposing as a cladding material. And it kind of makes sense because it’s already designed to withstand the elements. It’s designed to be walked on, it’s designed to be beat-up, and we’re putting it in a spot where it’s going to get a lot less weather, a lot less UV, it’s going to get no foot-traffic at all. It should last an incredibly long time.
Another thing that’s going to last an incredibly long time is the ¾-inch AZEK Sheets with PaintPro technology. Because they are PVS, they are virtually rot proof, so they are even being used as a below-grade protection board for the foundation insulation.
MA: The codes require that we install what they call a protection board over the insulation on our foundations. Here in Minnesota, we are putting three inches of insulation on the exterior of our foundations. The insulation comes up out of grade. So, how do we protect the insulation? The code asks us to put some sort of protection board on. They don’t define what it is. They don’t give any specifications. They just say “protection board.”
So we need to find something that’s rated for ground contact, that will keep the insulation safe and will not deteriorate over time, and can withstand rocks and other homeowner type activities.
It turns out, ¾-inch PVC is kind of the perfect product for this. You can see we’ve got it all installed along the foundation here, and it is pretty rock-solid.
It’s rated for ground contact. It’s rated to be buried in the ground. It’s PVC; it doesn’t take on moisture, it won’t rot, it’s there for the life of the house, and keeps it pretty well protected.
I think regardless of building type, this is our first time using it, and I think regardless of the cladding type above, this is going to be our stand-by material. It’s aesthetically pleasing, it’s real easy to install, we know that it’s going to last, we know that it’s going to work.
The code requires that we do something, and I think this is probably it.
Panels and channels define a modern makeover
The edges of the panels are trimmed with architectural channel stock from Tamlyn. They’re called Tamlyn Extreme Trim.
They give the panels a clear definition, allow for slightly imperfect cuts, and give the panels a little room to move during temperature fluctuations.
That all sounds pretty easy, but it is because a lot of difficult thought went into where to place the channel stock in the first place. For that, Michael used windows and other architectural elements of the house along with some basic design rules.
MA: It’s a confluence of the materials and trying to come up with some kind of language for the house. Something that is distinctive style and pulling on existing motifs. For me, this is Minnesota, Frank Lloyd Wright looms large here. His influence is primarily Japanese architecture. I lived in China for a couple of years and Japan for a year, and my aesthetic brings a lot of that in. So, the “two-thirds, one-third” rule is a really big one.
I am trying to avoid symmetry, making it as asymmetrical as possible and achieve balance in that asymmetry.
It’s much more like art than anything else when it gets to this stage. It’s less about problem-solving or engineering, and it’s much more about flow and what that visual language is.
One of those elements is the continuous orange band above the upper windows. It gives the eye a chance to pause and absorb before looking at the rest of the composition.
Precision framing is elemental to precision design details
But while designing the exterior cladding is more like art than engineering, elements like the continuous trim band mean that the technical team needs to be on the same page as the artists.
MA: I think your point, Dan, about the precision that’s required when you do something like this is noted for sure. And I think when you’re shooting for this level of precision, the framing crew has got to be on board with the final design. Once it’s framed and done, the trim guys can’t come along and make it something else. And if the windows don’t line up, those metal trims are going to show you right away if you missed the mark.
The process for installing the Tamlyn trims and the PaintPro panels is you start at the bottom, start at a corner, and move across in one direction. The process we used was really to attack one side of the house at a time. We did the south elevation, then we did the east elevation them we did the north, and then we came around and did the west.
So we were very intentional about how that lays up.
So there’s a process and order. You start on one side, and you move across and up.
The installation of the panels themselves, we’re using the cortex screws, we go through the face of the panels themselves. Behind the PaintPro panels, we have the Slicker Max by Benjamin Obdyke, so we’re not worried about furring strips. We don’t need to land on any particular point.
Our fastening base is that ZIP System R-12, that 7/16-inch OSB. We’re not going back and looking for studs.
That’s huge. The fact that we don’t have to hit furring strips is a little more forgiving in terms of where the screws land.
And because all of the screws are plugged, you can’t see the screws, so we don’t have to go through and mark precisely where the screws go, so when I look at it, I have a perfect vertical line. That’s huge.
Pinning the edges is the most important thing, so it’s a twelve-inch pinning pattern around the perimeter and sixteen in the field.
Why can they use dark blue paint on PVC panels?
The question everyone is asking their screens right now is, “how can you paint PVC panels dark blue like that and not expect them to swell like a buffalo?"
We asked exactly that question to AZEK’s technical experts on a Zoom call.
MA: For the PVC panels, I noticed there is a color guide for paint. And there were some comments about regular latex paint; keep your color render within these parameters. If you’re using a vinyl-specific paint, you get a little more bandwidth, and if you use the AquaSurtech product, which we’re using on this project, the sky’s the limit; you can paint it dark black.
Help me understand how heat and pigment and panel interact. What’s going on there?