Curtain Walling: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?


If you’ve got a property project on the go, you’re probably juggling a lot of information and decision-making right now. Getting the exterior of a building right is critical. This will impact its structural integrity, the look of the property and how well it stands up to the weather (and the test of time!).

One way to protect your building from the elements is curtain walling, but what exactly is this? And should you be using this technique on your property?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re here to tell you. In this guide, we’re going to look at the purpose of curtain walling and the key benefits of these systems. Read on to find out more.

What is curtain walling?

We tend to think of the exterior and facade of a building as being made from dense, thicker materials like bricks and cement, but curtain wall systems are actually thinner and much more lightweight. These are walls typically made from aluminium and glass.

By design, curtain walls can only hold their own weight and nothing else, so they are not structural walls on their own. Instead, these systems act as external cladding that makes the property air and water resistant ensuring that the interior remains airtight.

These systems tend to be associated more with multi-storey buildings, though these have become a distinctive feature of modern architecture and commercial buildings.

What’s more, curtain walling can add a nice aesthetic to a building, particularly those made of glass. It also adds to the robust design of the buildings and comes with a whole range of benefits which we’ll look at in more detail later.

The different types of system

To further build on your understanding of curtain walling, it’s important to know there are typically three different styles. These have all been designed to resist the weather, and these include:

Front-sealed systems

This method is designed to be totally impervious, not allowing any water through. In order to achieve this, the system relies on the glazing panels being positioned and sealed perfectly with mastic.

This system has its downside in that how well it works is totally dependent on the workmanship, but these tend to be best on low-rise buildings in more sheltered locations.

Drained and ventilated systems

Sometimes referred to as water-managed systems, drained and ventilated curtain walls recognise that a completely watertight seal isn’t always possible. As such, these also include drains to collect and disperse any moisture that does get in.

Pressure-equalised systems

In pressure-equalised systems, an outer rain screen is added to give an extra protective barrier. Protected openings within the panels also allow air into a compartmentalised central cavity, which facilitates pressure equalisation.

The benefits of curtain walling

Curtain walls are becoming more and more popular and are pretty commonplace in today’s modern buildings. These systems are designed to protect buildings from the elements, as well as have a multitude of other advantages. These include:

Maintenance and longevity

The primary purpose, as we’ve said, is to protect against the elements, and this means keeping out air and water. Those buildings that have a curtain wall are easier to maintain and will typically last longer than those that don’t.

Reducing sway

Curtain walling isn’t just there to provide extra structural stability – although it does this very well. It can also reduce the sway of a building, thereby making it more secure. Curtain wall systems can even out stress on the building by dispersing kinetic force through the frame and structure. This can make the property more likely to withstand high winds and extreme weather.

Slowing the spread of fire

As well as being a barrier to the elements, curtain walls can also act as a barrier that slows the spread of fire between floors. This can be very important in taller, high-rise buildings where fires tend to quickly spread upwards without anything to stop them.

Increasing thermal efficiency

As long as they are properly glazed and installed, curtain walling can massively improve the thermal efficiency of a property. Adding another layer of material to the exterior walls can help with climate control inside the building, stopping cold air from getting in and heat from escaping.

Boosting appearance

Last but not least, curtain walls are also occasionally used because of their appearance. They can give a sleek, clean and sophisticated look to a property and even a unique or contemporary design, depending on which style you go for.