To achieve a balance between design simplicity and versatility, architects are finding new ways to incorporate metal roof and wall panel systems. Check out these five trends that put metal to work in new ways.
Trend No. 1: Combining Colors from the Same Family
For personality and visual punch, architects often choose metal products in a specific color. But this trend can be taken to the next level by selecting panels from the same color family (light, medium, and dark blue, for example) and displaying them in a random or structured pattern to create a mosaic or ombre effect. As long as multiple hues are available within the same color family, you can create this monochromatic effect.
Trend No. 2: Accenting Other Building Materials
When beautiful stone, brick, or wood are used on the exterior—especially to accent a specific wall, column, archway, or entrance—metal panels can be used to highlight these materials. This layered design approach helps create visual interest and can bring old and new together, complementing a building’s history while adding some contemporary style.
“Rennen & Beecher Flats in Cincinnati is a great example,” says Rob Heselbarth, director of communications for PAC-CLAD | Petersen Aluminum. “It’s an older-style building in a historic neighborhood, but the architect was able to add metal as an accent. It doesn’t overpower the historic look of the building. Little pops of metal can modernize an older building. This is a great way to work with metal and see what it can do.”
Trend No. 3: Designing with Multiple Profiles
To create appeal and break up long expanses, architects are opting to use roof and wall panel systems on exterior walls or combine different wall panels. Instead of the same panel running the entire length of a wall, combining different profiles can add contrast while staying true to the design. It also helps provide visual interest without looking too busy or overwhelming.
Trend No. 4: Integrating a Woodgrain Finish
The use of wood as an exterior accent goes a long way toward adding interest and texture. Metal with a realistic woodgrain finish—from bamboo to dark oak—combines the low maintenance and durability of metal roof and wall panels with the warm look of wood. Especially from a distance, it’s difficult to distinguish real wood from metal panels with a woodgrain finish.
Trend No. 5: Using Perforation
The ability to create almost limitless perforation patterns, hole sizes, and densities opens up many new applications for metal cladding. It can serve a decorative purpose, provide ventilation, deliver privacy, or offer shading.
The award-winning Ballet Memphis, recognized with an AIA National Education Facility Design Award, used perforated corrugated copper to create a decorative sidewalk screen-art wall. It wraps around the building, offering the right combination of shading, privacy, and visibility during the day while allowing the building’s light to shine toward the street at night.
“There’s so much you can do with metal because of these different elements,” explains Heselbarth. “As more architects include it into their projects, we’re seeing this basic building material used in creative ways—whether it’s adding a woodgrain finish or perforation. Versatility is limited only by your imagination.”