Why do owners switch from FRP (Fiber Glass Panels) to PVC panels?

Fiber reinforced plastics or FRP panels and PVC panels are two of the most sought-after wall protection paneling materials for building facilities in the USA. In particular, these panels are used in commercial facilities that have a humid, hot and wet environment like, Kitchens, kennels, dairy farms, fisheries, meat packaging facilities, cannabis grow rooms, health care facilities, public bathrooms and so on.  But, when both of these materials are compared, PVC panels stand out as a much superior option than FRP panels. One of the reasons for this can be that FRP panels have been in use since the 1930s, and therefore, the material is not as innovative or technologically advanced as PVC panels are today. AWS have been supplying FRP for over 40 years and can confirm that we have seen a lot of FRP installations in that time and can advise that PVC paneling can be superior to FRP.

These are some of the problems we have seen from installations over time:

  • Fading and yellowing of panels.  They look like they are dirty but it is just the nature of the fibers that create the fade from UV lighting and do this over time.  Some areas we have seen this as early as 12 months.
  • Cracking and “furring”.  FRP is quite brittle and any sharp knock will crack it.  These cracks leak fibers into the area and will create a furry texture on the surface and is a natural bacterial trap.
  • Fiber leaching.  Generally the leaching fibers over time into working areas.  The fiber glass is a suspected carcinogen and so long term exposure is an unknown phenomenon for both employees and the installers of the product who will create dust from cutting the panels.
  • Waste management. FRP is not recyclable so discarding replaced panels is a challenge.
  • Bad trim installation.  Trim can be difficult to install, depending on the area and of course the quality of the installer.  FRP trim pieces have nicks and bends that make them look bad and act as dirt and bacterial traps.

Advanced Wall Solutions supplies a PVC panel that solves all of the issues we have seen with our customers over the 40 years we have worked with it.  Customers who have switched to PVC paneling have been very happy with the change and can see the difference.

  • One advantage of PVC is that the panels don’t fade over time, therefore they are longer lasting.
  • AWS PVC panels carry the clean air Gold certification that makes them safe in all applications.
  • PVC have no fibers in them to leach out over time.
  • 30% of PVC panels are made from recycled material.  PVC panels can be recycled.
  • Because of the nature of the panels, PVC can be thermoformed and this eliminates the need for inside and outside corners.  This gives a commercial room a clean looking hygienic finish both in look and for its application.  Whilst some of our customers still use divider bar trim, some simply caulk the seams to create a monolithic clean look.
  • Contractors installing PVC say that the installation of PVC is easier and faster than regular FRP.  They use any corner guards and feel better with no itchy skin that they get after installing FRP.

Another aspect of FRP is that the panels come in two main fire rated groups, namely Class A and Class C.  It is very difficult to tell these apart and therefore it is possible to mix them up, and because of the price difference can be a problem.  The AWS Lineage PRO PVC panels are always Class A and because the manufacture of PVC is a little cheaper, the price point is around that of a Class C FRP panel depending on distance from manufacture for freight costs.

We have heard and read many stories from other international regions where FRP has been completely discontinued over time.  Places like the UK are virtually FRP free and it is rarely seen in any application, and almost all contractors will only install PVC.

Click here to see what options are available with Lineage PRO PVC Panels at AWS.

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