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    3 Easy Steps to Installing a Removable Panel

    Posted by Austin Hardware on Jun 6, 2024 12:37:21 PM

    Panel Blog (1)

    Fabricators that work with removable panels need an efficient and reliable way to install them. However, the processes and hardware used significantly impact the end product. This post explains how to install a removable panel and select the proper hardware.

    Removable panels are used widely across many industries, including signage, marine, interior design, and public transportation. While these industries have unique application requirements, they do have one thing in common: ByPicture1-fastcon design, removable panels will be attached and reattached dozens or even hundreds of times. So, before you begin the installation, it’s crucial to identify hardware and mounting methods that are strong and durable enough to handle repeated installation.

    Step #1: Select Your Hardware

    When most people think of removable panels, the first thing that comes to mind is the panels themselves. But the signature feature of removable panels – the ability to remove them – comes from what you don’t see: the hardware.

    The success of a removable panel relies heavily on the strength and quality of the fastening system. So, before you begin installation, it’s worth taking the time to understand the hardware that makes it all possible.

    Plastic fasteners are most commonly used to mount removable panels. Their low price and availability have made them the go-to for this installation. However, several problems might occur with plastic fasteners. They offer low durability and will fatigue after prolonged use. Their longevity depends on the specific product, but as a rule, plastic fasteners will degrade, warp, or break after repeated removal of the panel. When this happens, the panels will be difficult to remove or reattach, and there’s a good chance all of the hardware will have to be replaced.

    Additionally, plastic fasteners are not fireproof, so if you have a project that requires fireproof hardware, they can’t be used.

    Finally, plastic fasteners are usually inflexible mounting systems. While there are many ways to mount a removable fastener to a panel, manufacturers of plastic mounting systems might offer dozens of varieties — some that use screws, some that can be glued on, etc. If you work with a wide range of materials, you’ll most likely need to purchase, store, and transport multiple varieties of fastening systems, which can become a hassle.

    Z-Clips are a type of mounting system that acts like a French cleat but are made of metal, usually aluminum. Z-Clips can be a good solution for mounting panels, but they attach and remove vertically. So, if a technician needs to remove the last panel in the column, they’ll have to remove the entire column, which is time-consuming. It also limits the design of the structure. Vertically removed panels force designers to leave large gaps at the top of an installation to allow room to set the panel and drop it into place, which may not be desired.

    A few manufacturers have introduced metal removable fasteners to compensate for the shortcomings of plastic fasteners. Typically made from 301 or 316 stainless steel, metal fasteners make installing a panel easier in several ways.

    By design, metal fasteners are highly durable and provide significant longevity. Metal parts can handle wear and tear better than plastic. So, while plastic fastening systems lose force after only three or four panel pulls, metal systems will last hundreds of pulls.

    Unlike plastic, stainless steel is heat and fire-resistant. Therefore, it will not combust or melt, making it ideal for areas with fire hazards or projects with strict fire code requirements.

    Steel fasteners also offer better weatherability for outdoor and marine environments, providing a strong connection against humidity, salt water, heat, cold, and extreme weather.

    Finally, metal fasteners, like the Fast-Con Quick Fastening System, offer flexibility and the ability to solve problems you otherwise couldn’t.

    RV interior

    For example, if you are working with a thin metal panel that is not conducive to drilling a hole for the fastener, an alternative to attach the female side of the fastener could be a structural adhesive, while a screw or bolt can be used to mount the male side to the wall.

    The final difference between these two mounting systems is price. Due to the material and design costs, steel fastening systems are more expensive upfront than plastic. However, when installing removable panels at scale, it’s worth considering how your choice of hardware will impact your bottom line beyond the initial materials cost.

    Plastic hardware makes sense for a relatively small number of installations. However, as the volume of panels that are changed out regularly increases, the value of plastic decreases because they will fail and need to be replaced, resulting in a higher cost in the long run.

    Labor costs are also a factor to be considered. Most of the panel installation cost comes from labor, not the hardware. An inefficient, difficult-to-install mounting system increases labor costs. Plus, ongoing maintenance and repair costs are associated with replacing failed hardware.

    For these reasons, panel fabricators are increasingly turning to stainless steel fasteners. Although the fastening systems may be more expensive upfront, their durability, labor savings, and simplified solution will often reduce total installation costs in the long run.

    Step #2: Define Your Mounting Method

    As you can see, several considerations go into hardware selection. However, it’s time well spent, as your choice offastcon-2 hardware will immediately impact how you mount the removable panel.

    There are also different mounting methods you can use to install a panel. Self-tapping or machine screws can be used. Threaded inserts, structural adhesives, or a combination are also viable options.

    However, the mounting methods you can use for a panel will depend on your substrates. For example, self-tapping screws work well for soft materials like MDF or wood, but hard, solid materials like stone, porcelain, plastics, and composites may require threaded inserts. You can then mount your removable panel fastener to the insert using a machine screw. For thin materials, you can use rivets or an adhesive to bond directly to the surface faster. You can combine these methods if you are joining different materials.

    You can choose a surface-mount or flush-mount installation if you are working with soft materials such as wood or MDF. For example, the Fast-Con can be recessed into the material by drilling a 1” diameter hole to a depth of ⅜” (10mm) using a spade or Forstner bit. This allows you to reduce the gap between the parts.

    Step #3: Install Your Panel

    Installation guide grab 02

    Once you’ve identified the right hardware, methods, and products for mounting the removable panel, the installation step becomes much easier.

    If you’re mounting the panel with screws, the process will roughly follow these steps:

    1. 1. Mark the location on the wall or surface where the fasteners will be located.
    3. 2. Install the female side of the fastener on the marked location using self-tapping screws.
    5. 3. Set the center point marking tool in the female anchors, line up the panel, and apply light pressure. This will mark the correct location on the panel to ensure alignment.
    7. 4. Install the male side on the panel on the indentations left by the centering device.
    8. Snap the panel in place.

    5. If you use an alternative method, such as structural adhesives or threaded inserts, you can modify this process to follow the products’ recommended steps.

    In conclusion, the choice of the fastening system significantly impacts the panels you fabricate. Working with the proper hardware for each application can help fabricators save time and cut costs while improving the quality of their products.

    If you have questions about selecting and using removable mounting systems, contact your Austin Hardware representative or your nearest Austin Hardware location. Our experienced team can help you make the right choices for your unique application.


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    Topics: Innovative Solutions, fasteners, rv