Curtain walls are the most common building facade systems. They are used in both low-rise and high-rise buildings. They are defined as non-structural cladding systems that are attached to the exterior side of the primary structure of the building. The primary function of the curtain wall is to provide protection from outside elements against weather, heat, and sound and also to provide an aesthetic look to the building.
Curtain walls are more commonly used in commercial buildings because they give a sleek, contemporary look to any building. Curtain walls are easy to install and they have a long life. Curtain walls also offer a variety of options when it comes to design, color, and texture thus allowing for increased creativity in architectural design.
What are curtain walls?
A curtain wall is a glazed building facade that is not a part of the building’s structure. In other words, it is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but serve only to keep the weather out and the occupants in. As such, curtain wall systems are typically lightweight aluminum-framed walls containing glass, metal panels, or thin stone. The aluminum framing can be either extrusion or stick fabricated systems.
The primary function of a curtain wall system is to provide weather protection while allowing natural light into the building; however, they can also serve as an aesthetic element to beautify a building. Curtain walls allow for a wide expanse of glass with narrow framing members and minimal mullions (thin vertical structural dividers that separate the window units). Aesthetically pleasing exteriors can be achieved with this glass construction method, which gives buildings a modern appearance.
Curtain walls are non-structural but they still play a major role in the overall look of a building. Typically made of glass and aluminum, they allow natural light to enter the building and give it a sleek, modern look. But you’ll want to consider them carefully before making a decision on whether to use them. Here are some pros and cons of curtain walls you’ll want to consider.
Pros of Curtain Walls
1) Curtain Walls give a modern look to any building and can change the whole appearance of an older building. Curtain walls can be made up of various materials like glass, steel, aluminum, or granite which gives multiple options for creating interesting designs.
2) Curtain walls allow light into a building without letting in too much heat or UV rays which helps in saving electricity on lighting and air conditioning costs. The use of high-performance glass in curtain walls helps in controlling solar gain while still allowing a maximum view.
3) Curtain walls offer good resistance to wind and water infiltration. A curtain wall is designed to resist air and water infiltration, absorb wind-induced oscillations and seismic forces acting on the building, resist wind loads and support its own load forces.
4) Other than its own dead load weight, the curtain wall facade carries no dead load weight from the building. The wall transfers horizontal wind loads incident on it to the main building structure via connections at the building’s floors or columns.
5) Curtain walls have a simple, lightweight structure. The systems can cover large areas, and most curtain wall systems are designed to be installed in modules.
6) Curtain walls may be glazed with multiple panes of glass or other materials for better thermal performance and noise control.
Cons of Curtain Walls
Like any building system, there are drawbacks to curtain walls.
1) One of the biggest problems with curtain walls relates to the construction process. Because of the way that they attach to the building, curtain walls tend to be at least partially constructed before the building is finished. This creates a number of logistical and engineering problems that can be costly, especially on large buildings where they may be significant curved sections.
2) Another issue with curtain walls is their nature as a non-structural element. They must be designed to work with bracing elements such as concrete or steel beams, which adds cost and complexity to the design process.
3) Curtainwall systems are typically custom-fabricated for each project and are therefore more expensive to produce than some other façade systems. Certain curtainwall types or features may also necessitate additional testing.
4) Curtainwalls are not suitable for use with all building types, such as those with deep floor plates or irregularly shaped floor plates.