ACU Mercy Building Sculptform

With a range of feature wall and ceiling systems available, you want to choose the best solution for your project. Stick-Built and panelised systems tend to be the most commonly used solutions…but which is better?

They can both achieve similar results, however, we believe stick-built systems are superior in many ways, especially in the area of finished product quality.

Stick-Built system modular components are delivered then assembled piece-by-piece on the construction site. Panelised systems consist of pre-built panels constructed in the factory of the manufacturer and delivered to site ready to install. Panelised and stick-built systems can both achieve similar results, with the installation method being the main differentiator; stick-built is more adaptable to onsite conditions.

Below we have outlined the pros and cons of each to help you understand which option better suits your project.

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Most stick-built systems use modular components, which allows flexibility in both design and installation. This approach provides the following benefits:

  • Modular system: As each part of the system is built piece-by-piece, no shop drawings are required which allows for flexibility on-site. This gives a designer the freedom to create what they need to achieve design intent.
  • Easy to adjust: Conditions on-site are often slightly adjusted from the original drawings, which requires the installer to make some adjustments. A stick-built system allows for this flexibility without compromising the aesthetics of the end result. 
  • Easy to replace: Sometimes components can get damaged. With the separate components of a stick-built system, there is less chance of a significant hold up of the project while replacing something that is damaged. 
  • Easier for on-site logistics: Individual components are much less cumbersome and bulky than fully assembled panels, an important consideration when building sites are congested and the install area is a long way from the drop-off point. 
  • Seamless finish: A seamless finish is achievable as components are easily adjusted to suit site conditions. Stick-built systems allow large areas to be covered with random joints which make them appear seamless (pictured below left), whereas panelised systems have to have oriented joints that make them appear like big tiles across the ceiling/wall (pictured below right).


While modular components offer versatility, they also present opportunities for mistakes due to the extra work required during installation. 

  • Labour intensive: As stick-built is installed piece-by-piece, there is more labour involved on-site. 
  • More choice: Provides more flexibility in design but there are many components of this system which can create extra work for a designer in documenting their specification. 
  • Waste:  As each component is sent and installed separately there is a lot more cutting and trimming on-site which can create waste.


Manufacturers: Sculptform, Modinex and Mortlock are examples of manufacturers that provide stick-built systems. 

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Panelised Systems


  • Off-site manufacturing: All panels are designed and constructed to the exact size, custom or standard, in the factory, allowing them to arrive on-site and be installed quickly. 
  • Quality assurance: Manufacturing panels allows for more accurate quality assurance policies to be put into place. As everything is shop drawn and manufactured to that drawing, they can be checked and re-checked before they arrive to site. 
  • Fast turnaround: Standard panels can be made up and stocked on the shelf ready to go for quick turnaround. 


  • Shop drawings: To ensure accurate manufacturing, each panel needs to be individually shop drawn. This presents added cost and a reliance on the accuracy of site measurements. 
  • Hard to adjust: As the panels are pre-built, they will not allow for adjustments to be made on-site. This can create a challenge for the builder and installer. 
  • Harder to transport: Panels can be quite large and bulky, making them quite difficult to transport. This also leads to more costs being involved and risk of damage to a panel. 
  • Finished look: As each panel is dictated by the shop drawing and made to exact measurements, express lines must be shown when installed. This can detract from the design intent and highlight slight inaccuracies. 


Manufacturers: Screenwood, Supawood Architectural Linings and Aktar are examples of manufactures that offer panel systems. 

How Sculptform Compares to Typical Panel and Stick Built Systems

Panel Stick Built Sculptform
Is the system modular? No Yes Yes
Is the system easy to adjust? No Yes Yes
Is it easy to replace parts of the system? No Yes Yes
Is there visual disruption on the finished product? Yes
Express join lines must be shown.
No No
Is there more labour involved in installing? No Yes No
Are there too many choices? No Yes No. Our online Price & Spec tool makes it easy to choose components to specify.
Is there more wastage onsite? No Yes No. Our end-matching capability is one example of why there is less waste on-site.
Is it easily impacted by poor workmanship? No Yes No. Our pre-indexing and easy system helps installers use it without issue.
Is this constructed off-site? Yes No No. However, our tracks can be cut to length and labelled to achieve a high percentage of off-site construction.
Is quality easy to control? Yes No Yes
Is the product available off the shelf? Yes No No, but we have an efficient make-to-order supply chain.
Is there a need for shop drawings? Yes No No
Is the product easy to transport? No Yes Yes

Have any questions?

Our clients are at the heart of every project. It’s our job to deliver on the big picture and the smallest detail. We’re your proactive design partner – we’ll listen to you and work with you to make sure the job gets done right.

If you have any questions about panelised or stick-built systems you can contact us below or give us a call on 1800 008 828.

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Written by Eben Pudney
Sales Consultant