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Multi-Wall Polycarbonate Panels And Thermal Expansion Allowances

Multi-Wall Polycarbonate Panels and Thermal Expansion Allowances

One of primary benefits of multi-wall polycarbonate panels that makes them so popular for roofing and glazing applications is how easily they can be installed. With so many standard lengths and cut-to-size options to choose from, little or no adjustment is typically required once the polycarbonate sheets arrive on site and are ready for placement; however, one adjustment you may have to consider is thermal expansion.

Thermal expansion, sometimes more formally called linear thermal expansion, refers to polycarbonate’s reaction to changes in temperature. Specifically, as the temperature increases, the polycarbonate material will expand or lengthen, and as the temperature decreases, the material will contract or shorten. Because of this physical change, it’s important to consider thermal expansion before and during installation, especially of you are using multi-wall polycarbonate in a non-traditional way or designing a structure that does not strictly follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Planning for thermal expansion during the design and construction phases of a roofing or glazing project will provide the necessary space for the polycarbonate material to respond to changes in temperature without buckling, bowing, or popping. The rate at which your multi-wall polycarbonate material will expand depends on the size and structure of the panel and the relative change in temperature. To determine the amount of thermal expansion of your specific polycarbonate product, contact your distributor or refer to your installation instructions. Most manufacturers account for thermal expansion when designing installation profiles and hardware and will include this information in the accompanying instructions. For instance, when drilling holes to insert mounting screws, the instructions will typically indicate to make the drill hole slightly larger than the screw diameter to allow for thermal expansion.

If you are uncertain about how thermal expansion will affect the installation and performance of your multi-wall polycarbonate sheets and it’s not clear in the installation instructions, contact your dealer for assistance before proceeding. You can also consult additional resources on our website to learn more about the installation and care of polycarbonate panels and to get tips on how to keep your panels clean.

If you’re looking for a polycarbonate supplier for your next project, contact Ug Plast at 717-356-2448 or to get connected to a distributor near you.

Interested in becoming a Ug Plast distributor? Ug Plast offers multi-wall and solid polycarbonate sheets in standard and custom colors and a variety of weights and thicknesses, and we can custom cut and ship your order within three to four days of placement. To learn more contact Ug Plast at 717-356-2448 or

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