Fact Checked

What is an Aluminum Composite Panel?

B. Turner
B. Turner

An aluminum composite panel is a building material that features a foam core surrounded by an outer aluminum skin. These panels share many characteristics with wooden sandwich panels, but generally offer a higher strength-to-weight ratio. The core of these panels consists of an insulating foam, such as polyethylene or polystyrene, both of which are effective at reducing thermal transfer through walls. By combining insulation and aluminum panels into a single material, manufacturers allow installers to quickly and easily construct walls and other building features.

Contractors may use an aluminum composite panel to construct the walls or ceiling of a home or commercial building. They may serve as the structure of the facility, or be used as cladding over traditional wood or steel framing. An aluminum composite panel may also be used as a source of insulation in a refrigeration system. These panels may form the walls of a large walk-in cooler, or may be used to line a traditional freezer or refrigeration unit. Finally, sign makers often use aluminum composite panels in place of heavy steel or other metals when building signs or billboards.


One of the factors that has contributed to the popularity of the aluminum composite panel is the wide variety of finish options these panels offer. Left unfinished, they provide the natural shine and beauty of aluminum. They can also be painted or covered with special metal coatings to add or reduce shine. Aluminum can also be embossed or texturized to resemble natural stone, or to add a design pattern of the user's choice. Finally, aluminum panels are fairly easy to bend and shape to create curves and other design features on a structure.

Beyond their appearance, aluminum composite panel products also offer a number of additional advantages to users. They are very lightweight, and require minimal structural support, yet are strong and durable. Compared to a wooden sandwich panel, the aluminum composite panel also offers a high degree of moisture resistance and fire resistance. Finally, these panels are fast and easy to install due to their light weight and flexibility.

One of the drawbacks to using aluminum composite panels is their susceptibility to dents or dings, particularly during storms or hurricanes. Some manufacturers may reinforce these panels with special threads to help resist damage. These panels also require careful attention to waterproofing, as lack of sufficient waterproofing may allow moisture to enter the seams around or above the panels.

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Discussion Comments


@Charred - I don’t mind the appearance of aluminum myself. Wood looks more authentic, I’ll grant you that, but I don't think it really makes all that much difference in the big picture.

What I like about aluminum is that it's easy to install. As a result, you can probably do the work yourself. There’s no need to spend money on a contractor.


My current house is brick, but I haven’t always had brick houses. My first house had aluminum side panels. As anyone will tell you, aluminum isn’t exactly pretty, and it says cheap, at least in my opinion.

Painting it didn’t do much to change that in my opinion. Based on the article however an aluminum composite panel might have done the trick for me.

If you can retexture it to look like wood, then that would have been the perfect solution. I could have given it a dark, brown oak wood texture and at least made the house look more appealing. It’s nice to know that there are affordable options for paneling your house.

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