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Glass & Aluminum Products: Design, Fabrication and Installation

Master the Art of Architectural Curtain Walls


When we think of a curtain wall most people would bring to mind a wall of curtains much like the curtains that hang over our windows to block out the light or add privacy. If you are an architect or in the construction industry you have a totally different idea of what a glass curtain wall is. This architectural curtain wall is the type we will concentrate on and explain to you what an architectural curtain wall is and what they consist of. Curtain walls of today are very exquisite and will add beauty and glamour to any building no matter how big or how small.

Architectural Curtain Wall Definition

An architectural curtain wall is the outer skin of a building. These walls do not really have a structural purpose to the building. These walls are constructed to keep weather out and people in. These walls are often made of a lightweight frame with glass added to the frame. This type of construction will also help cut costs of the project. One of the biggest advantages of curtain walls is the ability to use the natural lighting it provides. It will also give you a more open feel and you do not feel you are trapped inside of closed in walls. The wall does not carry any dead load of the building. The only weight that is involved is the dead weight of the curtain wall itself. A curtain wall is also designed to resist air and water exposure.  There are several ways curtain wall systems are constructed.

Stick Systems

The biggest majority of architectural curtain walls are constructed from long pieces of framing known as sticks. The framing members are constructed vertically between floors and then horizontal members are added between the vertical pieces. The framing members can be cut and prefabbed in a shop and the glass and glazing can be added on site after the framing members are installed.

Ladder Systems

Ladder systems are very similar to the stick system. This system will allow for each section of the architectural curtain wall to be constructed off site. After being prefabbed in a shop or other location they will be transported to the construction site and each section will be added and stacked on each other. This system will not have the same structural integrity as a stick system.

Rain Screen Principle

This is a very important principle that is pretty technical. This feature allows glass to be installed into the framing regardless of the system being used. Basically a type of gasket called a glazing rebate is used to place around the framing which accepts the glass. This glazing rebate will allow ventilation so that the pressure inside and the pressure outside will be equalized to keep from drawing water into the building.

Curtain Walls in Contemporary Architecture

You can see that curtain walls play a huge part of construction in today’s world. In the major metropolitan areas of today businesses are still growing. Space is also limited in these areas and a lot of times the only way to expand is up. An architectural curtain wall is an excellent way to expand in this type of situation. They can also be adapted to smaller buildings also. Do your research to see if this type of wall will meet your construction and expansion needs.

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