PE Core vs FR Core – Which Is Right For Your Project

Metallic aluminum composite panel. The panel features a smooth metallic surface, reflecting light and adding a sleek, contemporary aesthetic to the building facade. The metallic finish lends a sense of sophistication and modernity to the architectural design.

With hundreds of materials and applications available to the architectural industry, it is important to know all the facts before dressing your building. At IMARK Architectural Metals we pride ourselves in being masters of our trade and that includes knowing all the details about the products that we use. In this post, we will examine the differences between a PE Core and FR Core that is found in the Aluminium Composite Panel application.

Polyethylene Core Panel (PE)

Firstly, an aluminium composite panel with polyethylene core (PE) is a panel that has a thermoplastic polyethylene material at its core surrounded by two thin sheets of aluminium.  PE core composite panels offer benefits like rigidity, light weight, ease of fabrication and adaptability.

Fire Retardant Core Panel (FR)

Contradistinction, an aluminium composite panel with a fire retardant core (FR) is a panel that has a mineral filled thermoplastic core bounded by two thin sheets of aluminium.  FR core composite panels also offer similar benefits to PE core composite panels.  The exception being that FR core panels offer compliance with many fire codes worldwide.

It’s important to understand that no aluminium composite panel is fire-proof, only fire code compliant. As any other metal, all aluminium will melt at some point; however, the key factor between these two products is that the FR Core is a non-fire rated panel that has been deemed acceptable for a fire-rated construction assembly.

Aluminum Composite Panel and cladding

Jen - Col Construction Office Building

The Best Choice For You

Given tight budgets, it is important to keep the following items in mind when determining if FR core is warranted for your project.


FR Core material is not typically held in stock at a manufacturer’s facility. Therefore, PE Core material is more likely to be available with custom colours, standard colours, and finish selections.

Minimum Order Quantities

FR Core is typically produced once every few weeks depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers may even wait until a minimum quantity is ordered before agreeing to production runs – this minimum quantity refers strictly to the amount of FR Core material; colour and finish do not weigh into the decision. For example, a manufacturer may set a minimum order quantity of 30 sheets or a certain square footage to process the material; therefore, a project requiring only 6 sheets of material would need to be priced as if you were buying 30 sheets.

Order Cut Off Dates

In addition to the minimum total quantities, some manufacturers have specific cut-offs dates for FR Core, so if the order is not placed prior to the cut-off, you could be waiting for months.

Modern Office Exteriors

As you can see, depending on your needs, there is variability within a product and at times hidden costs. IMARK is here to help you navigate the options. If you have questions regarding a product or project, give us a call – we’d love to hear from you!

Fun fact: PE Core material is black in colour; FR Core material is white in colour — something to consider when looking at any types of perforations through the material.

Need more information? Contact John today!

John Suhrweier
Chief Estimator

Direct: 587.525.7060
Cell: 780.722.2993


About the Author

John joined IMARK in June 2016 as Chief Estimator. When he isn’t crunching numbers, John can be found spending his summers camping with his wife and puppy, Boomer, and during the Winters at the hockey rink coaching Canada’s favourite game, hockey!

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