Curtain walls are freestanding exterior wall coverings made of aluminum framing and glass. The glass panels allow natural daylight to stream into the interior while creating a very modern exterior. Although curtain walls are not part of the structural elements, they protect the structure’s interior from wind and water penetration. As a result, they play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the building envelope. Here we look at the types of curtain wall systems and the benefits they offer.
What are the Different Types of Curtain Walls?
There are two types of curtain wall systems:
Stick Curtain Wall System: Stick curtain walls are assembled piece by piece on site. They are most common for low-rise buildings. They are more flexible allowing for onsite adjustments but aren’t practical for higher elevations as they require exterior access. Their onsite assembly makes shipping more affordable, but installation more costly.
Unitized Curtain Wall System: Pre-assembled at the factory, unitized curtain wall systems ship and install as single units for an easier installation process. Pre-assembly makes them more suitable for high-rise building applications. Utilized curtain walls can be installed with mini cranes allowing for cost-effective, quick construction. However, builders will see increased shipping costs as the panels are larger, and also need more protection.
Both options offer benefits over traditional windows, depending on the design and structure of the building.
What are the Benefits of Curtain Walls?
Curtain wall design avoids damage from water penetration. If water penetrates through the gaskets, it drains out through the system, preventing interior penetration and damage. Although they are more expensive than traditional windows, they are also more durable. As a result, despite costing more upfront, they can save money over the long term compared to typical windows. This is because when the glass panels eventually fail due to age, only the glass itself is replaced. Traditional windows require complete replacement costing more to manufacture and install.
If you are looking for a cost-effective, energy-efficient solution, curtain walls offer the best of both worlds. First, they shield the exterior of the building while protecting the interiors from water damage. Structural glazing bonds the glass to the structural framing using a high-strength, high-performance silicone sealant. As a result, they last longer, saving money over time. Second, curtain wall systems are available in energy-efficient designs including double or triple glazed glass, with low-E and/or reflective coatings. This construction reduces air leakage and penetration, making the building more energy efficient by reducing heating and cooling costs.
If you require curtain wall system installation or repairs, WellDone provides everything you need. From aluminum curtain wall installation to replacing glass in multi-unit properties, offices, and storefronts, we service both commercial and residential high-rise buildings across the GTA. Speak to our team today.