Product Review

TerraClad Rainscreen Cladding

Terra cotta has been used in the building industry for hundreds of years—especially as roofing tile, floor tile (often referred to as Mexican tile), chimney lining, and as exterior cladding materials. A ceramic material fired at a relatively low temperature (Boston Valley fires at about 2,300°F, [1,260°C]), terra cotta can be glazed or left unglazed, depending on the performance and aesthetic needs.

From an environmental standpoint, terra cotta is an attractive material. It is produced from natural, inorganic materials, primarily clays, that are abundant and widely distributed—Boston Valley sources 42% of its raw materials from within 500 miles of its plant. It is inert, with no offgassing after firing is complete. It is noncombustible without requiring the addition of flame retardants. It is durable—TerraClad carries a 50-year-plus life expectancy, according to the manufacturer, and is engineered to survive freeze-thaw cycles. And it is 100% recyclable back into new terra cotta. According to Sheri Carter, AIA, of Boston Valley, the company sends its terra cotta scrap and overruns to Maryland Refractories (located in Ohio), where it is ground and shipped back to Boston Valley for reuse as the primary constituent in the product. Boston Valley could also recycle panels taken off buildings, though, as TerraClad is a new product, this has not been done. “Our TerraClad panels should never contribute to a landfill,” said Carter, who added that Boston Valley has begun examining the life cycle of its entire product line (which also includes an exterior sun-shading system).

Published August 2, 2007