All Metal Panels Are Not Created Equal

Understanding the contrast between single-skin and insulated metal panels can make all the difference in building performance.

Specifying the proper building materials is a crucial decision for every building project.

In fact, it can mean the difference between a building that achieves high R-values over the life of the building and one that leaves your facility susceptible to reduced R-value and weather penetration over time.

Thanks to their appealing combination of weather-resistance, durability and modern, sleek lines with a variety of profiles, metal panels have become an increasingly attractive choice for commercial, industrial and architectural applications.

Yet, all metal panels are not created equal. Specifically, insulated metal panels (IMPs) present several added benefits when stacked up against single-skin metal panels, which must be installed with a separate insulation system. In comparison to single-skin panels, Metl-Span IMPs deliver superior performance and aesthetic advantages that can help to make your building’s exterior stand the test of time.


Metl-Span IMPs deliver unparalleled performance with their all-in-one panel assembly, creating extremely effective air, vapor, water and thermal barriers without additional components.

Single-skin metal panels are typically specified to act as either a barrier wall or a rainscreen system. Despite their applications, single-skin panels still lack the performance standards of Metl-Span IMPs.

Barrier Walls – In this application, single-skin panels are designed to resist weather penetration without a backup drainage plane. It is typically used with fiberglass batt or blanket insulation, which must be allowed to fully expand within the wall cavity to reach its rated R-values and is subject to thermal shorts at all structural support locations. Taped seams connecting each batt and blanket also lose integrity over time, allowing unwanted air and vapor infiltration. This system also lacks redundancy and any water that breaches the panel system can get into the wall cavity, saturating the insulation and greatly reducing its R-value.

Metl-Span IMPs combat these issues with continuous insulation. They are typically available in widths of up to 42” for exterior applications, saving installation time and cost. These wider module panels reduce the number of panel joints, providing further protection against moisture infiltration. IMPs also feature unique concealed fastener joinery to eliminate thermal bridging almost entirely.

Rainscreen Systems – Rainscreens provide the outer water-shedding layer, while an additional drainage plane—or backup wall assembly—provides secondary water protection and primary air, vapor and thermal protection. Single-skin panels are qualified to meet these demands, yet typically involve more complex detailing, more coordination between the wall trades and additional time and money due to multiple-layer wall construction. In contrast, IMPs are very effective at providing a unitized backup wall assembly for rainscreen construction due to their all-in-one construction.


A building’s façade should create an inviting environment, as it is every visitor’s first impression. With this in mind, it is critical for building materials to offer design flexibility to match the project’s aesthetic vision—whatever that may be.

In addition to their superior performance qualities, Metl-Span IMPs also deliver a wide range of aesthetic benefits. Metl-Span IMPs are available for both vertical and horizontal applications in profiles ranging from flat, striated and planked to deep ribbed, and in textures including smooth, embossed, heavy embossed and texture coated. With concealed fasteners, Metl-Span IMPs provide sleek aesthetics without unsightly exterior fasteners, while also eliminating the need for metal flashings, thanks to pre-formed corners and trimless ends.

With so many options available in today’s construction landscape, choosing the best product for your façade can be a daunting task. Metl-Span insulated metal panels provide a myriad of options that meet all your design and performance needs.

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