There’s a lot of discussion around fixed copings vs. secret fix copings. Which one’s stronger, better, more attractive, more expensive? Do secret fix copings live up to the hype?
In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of secret fix copings and whether architects and contractors really need to specify secret fix copings for their next construction project.
What are Secret Fix Copings?
Firstly, let’s establish what secret or hidden fix copings are. Simply put, they are aluminium wall copings that protect a parapet wall without the use of fixings through the coping. They clip onto an extruded bracket to hold them in place, without the need for holes to be drilled through the coping to attach to the wall.
This means the finished coping has a clean visual line, and also benefits from being watertight as it has no holes going straight through it.
That just there is the main advantage of a secret fix coping system over a fixed one, but let’s delve a little deeper to see what else a secret fix coping solution can offer that a fixed one can’t.
#1 Secret Fix Copings Do Not Deform
With a fixed coping system, the bolts through the coping are spaced in intervals and fastened to plywood that is securely attached to the wall. The attachment must be strong to overcome the high wind-loading it is put under, such as wind speeds of over 100mph.
The main drawback of this is that when the aluminium heats up on a warm day it expands, often putting enormous pressure on the bolts and, in the worst of cases, deforming the coping. It isn’t completely impossible to see bowing coping or ones which bolts have failed and snapped off.
With a secret fix coping you do not risk a deformed coping or one which could potentially fly off in high winds at any moment (due to failed fixings). The secret fix brackets allow for expansion and contraction, whilst maintaining a strong attachment to the parapet wall.
#2 Secret Fix Copings Protect Buildings
Secret fix copings provide superior weather protection than fixed copings because there are no penetrations through the coping, such as bolt holes.
In fixed copings, waterproof sealants, such as unsightly mastic or bitumen, are essential to seal around the bolt holes and under the coping. Over time and years of UV exposure, these sealants degrade, leaving a clear path for water to creep under the coping and into the brick below.
Failed fixed copings are often the cause of damp, rot, leaks, and mould in buildings. The lack of protection against water ingress can also then develop into freeze-thaw damage within the bricks themselves, causes rendering to crack and fall off, as well as cavity insulation to be damaged.
With a secret fix coping system you can prevent water ingress and the catastrophic issues that can create.
#3 Secret Fix Copings Are Much Easier to Fit
With a standard coping or capping you can expect to be bolting plywood and then a bracket into the wall. Then you have to check its level and add any shims or packers to ensure the coping sits flat. Then you must go along the wall bolting the coping in place, including making the holes. This process can be incredibly time-consuming.
However, with a secret fix system, you make all the adjustments on the bracket, again ensuring its level, and then all you need to do is go along the wall and snap the secret fix copings onto the brackets. You can even cut the copings down in length easily on-site.
#4 Secret Fix Copings Are More Attractive
For projects where the roof of a building is a highlight to the project and is being specifically designed as part of the building’s assets, then an attractive coping system is essential.
Roof gardens, living roofs, rooftop bars and others are becoming more and more popular as people aim to make the most of the space they have.
Choosing a secret fix coping means choosing a good looking system that has clean lines and doesn’t detract from the rest of the high-quality specifications.
#5 Secret Fix Copings are Value for Money
Secret fix copings systems are more expensive than fixed coping ones due to the fact it is an engineered solution.
However, throughout a building life, the longevity that a secret fix coping provides is more valuable than the initial investment. Moreover, the catastrophic issues that water ingress can introduce are more than critical to pay more upfront to prevent in the future.
Wall copings are important for both functional and aesthetic reasons for any building project.
Secret fix copings provide numerous benefits to architects, installers, and building owners, and, in our opinion, are the winner when it comes to secret fix vs. fixed!
Why Choose HJA’s Secret Fix Coping
HJA’s Aluminium Secret Fix Coping is one of the best on the market. Not only is ours independently wind-tested to 144mph but it also incorporates superb anti-rattle foam.
The HJA Secret Fix copings offer an attractive, low maintenance coping system that is simple to install yet both rigid and secure. The out of sight coping fixings provide a smooth, fastener-free appearance that architects like you want.
If you want to read more about the HJA’s Secret Fix System then click here.
Contact Us for more information and find out how we can help with your architectural fabrications.