Curtain Walling Advantages
What is curtain walling? A curtain wall forms part of a building envelope solution. They usually take the form of glazed panels surrounded by lightweight metal such as aluminium.
Curtain walling is non-structural, thin and lightweight, designed primarily for weather protection and aesthetic appeal, but serves many other functions.
A curtain walling system is one of the most cost effective options available when considering building facade designs. So how do you decide if it’s the one for you?
Start with these key considerations:
Is it more important for your build to be aesthetically pleasing, or are structural efficiencies and fire safety more desirable? Your priorities will determine how and where your budget can stretch.
Who are the end users of this building and how will they use it? Basics like protection from weather conditions and preventing the spread of fire will be important for all buildings. Factors such as “Is this a residential or commercial building?” will shape many considerations.
Your building’s surroundings need to be considered when thinking about weather-proofing, natural light, ventilation and thermal efficiency, suitable materials, and even security and structural integrity.
Once you’ve established these fundamentals, consider the advantages of curtain walling:
By utilising lightweight materials such as aluminium, building curtain walls to wrap your structure reduces its overall weight.
A curtain walling system could therefore yield substantial savings when it comes to building foundations – one of the most expensive aspects of a build.
Incorporating lightweight and durable materials such as aluminium also has tangible benefits, such as reducing building sway. Structural stability isn’t the primary function of a curtain wall, but with quality choices of glass, metal, and other materials, curtain wall systems help reduce stress across the building surface.
Curtain walling can slow the spread of fire. Even with fire-resistant cladding, fires can quickly spread between floors – particularly in taller buildings. Curtain walling can act as a barrier, preventing fire spread across a building, and upwards between floors.
Building curtain walls on a building can provide highly effective protection against a range of weather conditions. They act as a barrier to air and water, but also provide insulation. This thermal efficiency helps reduce costs of air conditioning and heating.
Glass and metal help to give buildings a polished, modern look that is easily maintained for years. Although lightweight, materials such as aluminium can add sleek, elegant lines to a building while offering incredible durability. Paired with modern glazing, curtain walling marries form and function.
Building curtain walls boosts thermal efficiency, helping buildings maintain stable, comfortable levels of heat and ventilation. This reduces the carbon footprint of buildings with curtain walls due to reduced need for artificial heat, cooling, and ventilation.
Buildings are created for people. All of the practical benefits mentioned above – thermal efficiency, protection against weather conditions, good air conditioning – these add up to a comfortable and pleasant environment.
An outer shell filled with glass floods a building with natural light; something we all appreciate in our homes and workplaces. This brings cost savings on lighting, plus it lends itself well to photography or filming – a 21st century benefit!
So, are there any major disadvantages of curtain walling?
No solution is 100% perfect for every project, so here we address some common concerns we hear.
Curtain walls are a separate structure, and so have to be installed externally, with the obvious potential for weather delay. As with any building project, good forward planning and reasonable flexibility can mitigate any potential complexity.
Not every building wants or needs to be flooded with natural light or well insulated. Will extra light impede some activities? Will the insulation cause problems – is this somewhere which needs to be warmer or cooler than its surroundings?
For a multi-purpose building with variable needs, you can control heat and light with well designed window coverings, air conditioning, and darker interior colours.
Cleaning and maintenance
Glass and metal needs regular cleaning and maintenance. However, all buildings require ongoing upkeep, and costs must be balanced against savings.