Curtain Walling VS Cladding: Which is better?

Curtain Walling VS Cladding Which is betterWelcome, if you’re here to enquire further about what the difference between the cladding and curtain walling actually is, look no further.  

So which is better? It’s a question that dates back to before the 19th century, yet it often seems to be one that is difficult to get a straight answer to. Here, we are going to give you a clear, concise, easy to understand the answer as we explain the pros and cons to each, so you can be more informed on exactly which is best.  

We will be covering pros and cons as well as any other considerations, with a view to helping you make an informed decision. 

Cladding 

Cladding is the application of a protective and/or decorative material to the side of a building to defend against the elements. Cladding is applied to the building itself and becomes part of the structure. Its primary functions are to protect the building against weather and moisture, but it can also serve as insulation for heath and sound. One of its most attractive features however, is the choice of materials that can be used in its construction, with the most popular being wood, metal and concrete. This allows for a wider variety of designs for the building’s façade, as well as an opportunity to modify a building’s aesthetic to blend in with older or traditional structures.   

There are a few general advantages that make cladding a good option, especially in comparison to other exterior finishes such as siding. However, there are also quite a number of disadvantages and even potential dangers to cladding, explored below.  

Pros

One of the best aspects of cladding is the many different materials one can use. This allows the architecture to project the right style and atmosphere that the designer wants.  

Cladding can be quite eco friendly, as it can be made from recycled or recyclable materials.  

Cladding can protect the building from the elements and withstand harsher weather conditions. 

This method can be lower maintenance 

Cons

Cladding can be very expensive depending on the materials used and concrete has been known to be one of the most expensive options 

Cladding can take a very long time to install and if the building isn’t structurally sound, the installation process could be delayed even further the building may have trouble withstanding the weight addition. 

Even though this method can be lower maintenance, it is fixed to the building itself. Due to structural or elemental complications or if the cladding has been poorly fitted, it may break or fall apart and can devastate the building. 

This method may not be load-bearing but the building’s foundations do have to bear the cladding. This means greater considerations about the strength of the foundations and can add costs to other aspects of the building’s construction to accommodate the cladding. 

Find out more here!

What happens when cladding is poorly fitted? 

As set out above, when cladding is poorly fitted or uses lower quality or cheaper materials, it has the potential to become a tremendous fire hazard. Generally, there is a small cavity between the cladding and the wall that allows rain to run down. In the event of a fire, hot air is drawn up this cavity like a chimney, intensifying the flames and spreading the fire to the upper levels. As a result, the fire may spread to inside the building through windows via drying linen or curtains.  

In contrast to this, curtain walling employs a passive fire prevention method, by utilizing specialised foam in the gaps between the concrete floor slabs and the curtain wall. These areas can slow the passage of fire and combustion gases, and, in conjunction with sprinklers, they can help prevent flames from rising up the building.  

Curtain Walling 

Curtain walling works in a slightly different way to cladding but does serve an almost identical purpose. Essentially, it provides a smarter and, quite frankly, safer option. This method offers free-standing outer covering protection from the elements; it’s more akin to double glazing. One primary limitation, however, is that it can only be made from glass and metal, thus reducing the aesthetic variety that it can provide to a building. Due to its modernist feel, you will often see this style implemented on government buildings, office buildings, high rises and luxury apartments.  

As with cladding, curtain walling has certain advantages and a few disadvantages which inform its suitability. That said, as you will see below, many features provided by curtain walling make it superior to cladding, especially when considering cost, durability and safety. 

Pros 

Aluminium curtain walling can provide lightweight and durable protection from the elements by absorbing sway caused by wind; it can divert water from rain and even seismic activity.  

Curtain walls do not need to be installed on the building’s foundations, they are free-standing and support their own weight so if they suffer damage or any complications, they are far less likely to damage the building they’re protected.  

This method offers far greater protection against water and moisture penetration. 

This method also provides greater thermal efficiency by helping keep heat out. This can save a lot of money on air conditioning.  

They provide additional sound insulation  

They can be adjusted to keep light out or allow it to penetrate further into a building 

Curtain Walling installers are skilled labourers whose expertise can provide a more uniform, modern and sophisticated aesthetic. 

Cons 

This method requires more general maintenance and periodic washing.  

A curtain walling system cannot be installed or maintained by anyone, it requires professionals who specialise in the process. 

Due to the lightweight and specialised materials, harsh weather can delay installation. 

In Conclusion

When considering the kind of exterior finish you want, it is important to factor in all pros and cons as well as safety considerations and the ideal look of your building.   

For us, however, the choice is clear. Curtain walling is the more reliable and well-designed option with efficiency, safety and practicality in mind. If you want to add some elegance to your building then curtain walling is the perfect opportunity to push it into the 21st century, for more information, contact Crucial Engineering today at 03451 930 420 or visit this page.

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