Unless you work in construction or project, manage the construction and build of large buildings, high rise towers, and skyscrapers, curtain walling might not be a term you’re too familiar with. 

However, curtain walling is all around us, and at Crucial Engineering, we manufacture and install a variety of curtain wall systems across the UK. 

But what is curtain walling, and why is it important to the structure of a building? 

What is curtain walling? 

Curtain walling is a non-structural fabricated aluminium cladding system, found on the external walls of large multi-storey buildings. 

It is a lightweight material that is easy to install, and can be glazed, opaque, or include infill panels,and these aluminium systems are easy to transport and simple to manufacture. 

Curtain wall systems ultimately help to separate the interior from the exterior; however, it’s important to understand that curtain walling does not support any structural elements in a building and cannot have any weight placed upon it, other than the panelling itself.

What is curtain walling

Visually attractive facades 

Curtain walling is mainly designed and manufactured for high rise buildings due to their exposed position, and in all situations and across all projects, curtain walls must meet extremely strict regulatory requirements. 

A style that is widespread for use on tall buildings in cities around the world due to its flexibility and custom designs, curtain wall systems can be manufactured and installed as bespoke curtain walls, or they can be “off the shelf” systems. 

Aluminium is a versatile and malleable material, which we can fabricate to be used in a wide range of spaces and moulded into innovative shapes and sizes. 

From curved facades, geometrically shaped windows, multi-coloured powder-coated finished we can, and do, offer it all. 

Benefits of curtain wall systems 

Curtain walling can: 

  • Provide additional weather protection to buildings 
  • Reduce solar transmissions 
  • Be as flexible as you require 
  • Withstand building sway and thermal expansion and contraction 
  • Create a barrier to water and wind penetration  
  • Provide attractive exterior aesthetics 
  • Provide fire, smoke, and acoustic separation 
  • Accommodate movement and deflection 

Curtain walling is also affordable and cost-effective both in the short and long term, it is energy efficient due to their ability to resist air and water infiltration, helping to reduce costs on heating, cooling, and lighting. 

But above all, they are attractive and modern-looking systems for today’s buildings. 

Types of curtain walling 

There are two types of curtain walling facades available: 

Stick systems – these systems are installed piece by piece on-site, where glazing or panelling is then inserted into frames from either the inside or out. These frames can also provide lateral resistance while allowing for thermal movement. 

Unitised systems – these systems are prefabricated in sections off-site. Delivered to sites in sections, these systems can often be preferred as they require lower installation time. 

Spider Glass – Using point-fixed glass panels that are connected to the structure with metal fittings. These are often made from stainless steel to ensure of a robust frame. The design is visually strking with minimal framing obstruction, which offers a transparent facade. Often seen in more modern constructions, Spider Glass is becoming a popular choice in the industry for clients and businesses alike.

Double Skin or Double-Glazed – these typically have an exterior layer of glass and an interior layer, which creates an insulating air gap between them. The design creates a greater level of insulation and reduces noise transmission. It also has energy efficiency benefits which is a big priority for businesses, with meeting net zero and carbon emmision targets.

Structural Glazing – The use of structural silicone to bonds the glass directly to the framework, which eliminates the need for visible framing members. It creates a very sleek, modern and frameless apperance. This method typically requires extremley detailed levels of bespoke engineering and installation.

Types of infill panels 

Infill panels can include: 

  • Vision and non-vision glass 
  • Aluminium 
  • Stone/Brick 
  • Terracotta 
  • Louvres/vents 
  • Fibre-reinforced plastic 

Curtain walling can feature vast expanses of glass, allowing natural light into buildings, creating great working environments. 

Curtain walling systems 

There are three curtain wall systems to choose from. These include: 

Face Sealed – these systems attempt to create the perfect seal; however, these systems inevitably fail due to pressure-driven moisture. 

Water Managed – these systems are similar to pressure systems; however, there is no attempt to prevent water penetrating the outer seal, making the primary function of these systems to drain water, rather than allowing pressure equalisation. (Some water systems may include moisture drains to stop water from getting into the building.) 

Pressure Equalised – these systems help to create a rebate between the internal and external gaskets, so there are no pressure differences between the outside and the rebate. Any rain that then penetrates the outer seal can then be drained away through the vents within the facades. Pressure systems block all external forces while keeping a building interior airtight. These are some of the most robust systems around. 

Curtain walling is an important way to protect a building from the harsh external elements. Manufactured and installed in any size and design, curtain walling systems create unique, visually stunning exteriors, always. 

If you’re looking for aluminium curtain walling installation and you would like advice on the best systems to suit your requirements, contact Crucial Engineering today.

Contact us about your Curtain Walling Requirements