Louvers for Aesthetic Architecture

Louvers for Aesthetic Architecture

Louvers don't have to get in the way of your designs. Learn how they can be part of the architectural aesthetic. Read more for the full story.

At a Glance

  • Louvers are required for protecting airflow points along a building's envelope.
  • Louvers are versatile. They can serve many roles in your designs, including aesthetics.
  • Options like finishes and continuous line help preserve a project's aesthetics while meeting requirements.

 

The Importance of Aesthetics

There are many definitions for the word "architecture". The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the art or science of building”. Architects apply their own experiences in the field to create more personal definitions of the term, and these definitions share common traits.

Architecture is the creation of a functional and comfortable place for people. Aesthetics, the art, are part of comfort. A good architectural project should be aesthetically pleasing, inside and out. But the aesthetics of the project are often sacrificed for the realities of the project’s requirements.

An arch-shaped louver

 

Louvers, A Necessary Addition

Buildings need HVAC to keep occupants comfortable throughout the year. The system requires ventilation points along the building’s envelope, to draw air in and circulate it through the building. These openings needs protection.

Louvers are devices consisting of several blades in a frame. The blades are designed to deflect rainfall, which can damage important components and contribute to mold growth in the ductwork. It’s important to keep ducts dry, which is why building codes often require louvers at ventilation points.

A vision screen louver

Louvers will have their own sets of rules and standards. If your project is in a coastal region, then you will need hurricane louvers that are tested to withstand impacts from windborne debris. They will also need to reject rainfall driven by high velocity winds. The exact requirements will differ from place to place, but the project will always need louvers to protect the ventilation openings.

 

Design Aesthetics - Finishes and Custom Colors

It may seem like these requirements get in the way of the project’s aesthetics. When you add these required features, like hurricane louvers, you change the look of the building.

Louvers can be tailored to match the building’s aesthetic. The most obvious solution is applying a finish. 

Powder paint finish versus anodized finish

There are several finish types out there, depending on the look you want. All these options work best on aluminum louvers:

  • Anodizing: applied via anodizing bath, leaving a permanent protective oxidation layer to the metal.
    • The result is a dull metallic sheen. Manufacturers can add a dye to the process for distinct colors, though the color options are often limited to shades of black and bronze.
  • Powder Paints: a dry powder applied through Electrostatic Spray-assisted Vapor Deposition (ESAVD) and baked into the metal for a long-lasting finish.
    • Powder paints create a dull sheen on their own. Manufacturers can apply a clear coat, which adds shine to the metal and an additional protective layer to the finish.
  • Fluoropolymer: a powder paint consisting of resins and lubricants, applied through ESAVD, and baked into the metal.
    • Fluoropolymers look the same as powder paints, when applied, but last much longer. Manufacturers can also add clear coats to fluoropolymer finishes for a shinier look.

Powder paint finishes will have the most color options available. Manufacturers will provide a selection of standard colors to choose from, and many offer color-matching options to achieve a specific color.

If you are ready to choose a color for your louvers, then request a physical color chart from the manufacturer. Digital color charts may be inconsistent with the finished product due color inaccuracies on your computer monitor. Physical color charts will be more accurate.

At MCDLG, our physical color charts use paint chip samples taken from our painting booth on site. This guarantees the best color accuracy.

Louvers with different finish types

Fluoropolymer finishes will provide the longest lasting finish, resilient to scuffs and marring. These options ensure the colors stay true to their original shade over time. The louvers may be part of the project’s requirements, but the way they look is up to you.

These options ensure the colors stay true to their original shade over time. The louvers may be a requirement, but the way they look is up to you.

 

Structural Aesthetics - Continuous Line and VBS

Colors are important, but they aren’t the only aesthetic option available for louvers. Larger louvers will often consist of several smaller louver panels, connected along horizontal and vertical mullions. These mullions will create clear divisions between panels.

You may find that you like the look of a mullion. Lines are an excellent tool for design. Horizontal and vertical lines can help draw attention to other features on a building’s envelope or create divisions between spaces on the wall. The result is an ordered aesthetic that looks and feels structured. 

If you want a sleek look, consider the continuous line option. Continuous line louvers eliminate vertical mullions by hiding them behind the blade profile. This is typically achieved with vertical blade supports, which are support members that run behind the blade profile.

Example of a louver panel with discreet vertical mullions.

In this picture, the customer chose discreet vertical mullions between panels. What do you think?

When a continuous line louver is assembled, the blades of one panel will meet with the blades of the neighboring panel. The result creates a single, uninterrupted blade profile running from one side of the louver to the other. In other words, the multiple louver panels will look like a single louver.

Manufacturers will require a discrete mullion for every twelve feet of louver width. Continuous line options are available for most louvers, including some severe weather louvers. It won't be available for every louver. Always check the louver’s submittal first, to make sure the option is available.

Louvered panels can make for an interesting aesthetic, but louvers are typically mounted inside of an opening. Standard louvers must be properly fastened and supported inside the wall. You can mount a louver anywhere with the right equipment. For certain models, you may have the option to replace the louver’s frame with vertical blade supports, or VBS, for a frameless look.

Hubspot Blog 2024 - Aesthetic Architecture - Mullion (Resize)

The VBS provides structural support for the blades in lieu of a frame. This option opens new options for mounting the louver in non-standard areas. For instance, you can mount a frameless louver onto a wall, so that the louver’s blades create a series of straight lines along the surface.

You can create a louver fence around a secluded area. Vertical blade support provides a wide range of design options, allowing designers to add a louvered look to any surface. 

You may also have the option for custom shapes, allowing you to create louvers with non-rectangular frames. With custom shapes, you can fill an archway or a circular opening with the right louver. Read “Louver Aesthetics” for more on your design options.

These options may not be available for all louvers. The best way to know is to check the louver’s submittal. 

The key to a superior design is creating a safe, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing space for people. That means ensuring the space meets the project’s requirements. You don’t have to throw out parts of your design to meet them. You have options when it comes to louvers.

HubspotBlog Louver Options - Louvers (Resize, HS)

Airline Louvers can help you meet requirements while preserving architectural aesthetic. We build stationary louvers for a wide range of scenarios, from standard airflow to severe weather. Contact us today and start your next project with louvers built for you.

 

Are you worried about louvers interrupting your project's aesthetics? Tell us what you think in the Comments section. We want to hear from you!

 

Browse these links for more articles on louvers and design:

Mestek Commercial Damper and Louver Group

MCDLG is a collective of top-tier HVAC brands.
  • Arrow United Industries
  • Air Balance
  • Cesco Products
  • Louvers & Dampers
  • Airline Louvers

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