Oil Canning: What is it and How can I Prevent it?

What is it?

Oil Canning is when sheet metal products seem to bow or wave outwards especially in the flat part of the panel. It takes away from the aesthetic of the cladding so it is best to do everything possible to prevent this effect.
Many things can affect oil canning of a panel including:

  • Sheet thickness
  • The span of the flat section of the panel
  • Thermal expansion and contraction
  • Orientation of cladding panels
  • Slope
  • Handling
  • Fastening
  • Settlement of the structure

Heavier gauge panels will be more resistant to oil canning than lighter gauges. Panel structures can also be optimized to reduce it. Panels with minor ribs, striations and shorter flat spans will be more resistant than other profiles. As well, new fastening systems like the Floating Clip System can help to reduce the number of fasteners needed to install cladding. This results in more flexibility of the panels to allow for thermal expansion and contraction. The colour of the metal can also help to minimize oil canning visibility (lighter colours reduce visibility, darker colours accentuate flaws).

How can I prevent it?

As manufacturers of metal cladding, we take every precaution to minimize the the risk of oil canning. However, during installing there are some additional steps that you should take as well:

  • Always lift and carry panels by the long edge to prevent twisting and damage to the panels
  • Never over-engage panels
  • Never overdrive fasteners
  • Always use proper installation procedures to install panels in order and fasten in one direction
  • Be aware of the proper places to step during installation to not damage the panels

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, the risk of oil canning is always present. Although we do everything we can to minimize it, it is impossible to avoid it entirely. Keep in mind that it is an aesthetic issue only and will not compromise the integrity of the structure.