Difference between Curtain Walls and Storefronts

curtain wall vs store frontAs a business, you will undoubtedly face the dilemma of what façade you would like to place on the front of your commercial property.  With choices including traditional storefronts, and now becoming increasingly popular, aluminium curtain walling, there is a lot to consider. 

Both are ultimately designed to provide adequate natural light into your premises, provide you with a great outlook to the outside world, and protect you and your products from the external elements. 

As mentioned above, both aluminium storefronts and aluminium curtain wall systems do perform similar functions; however, they both have some unique qualities making them different and flexible in a wide range of circumstances. 

Differences to consider 

The main difference between the two is where they are primarily used. 

For example, curtain wall systems are perfect for much larger buildings, such as multi-stories and high rise offices; whereas you will mainly find storefront systems on buildings that are only one or two stories high. 

It’s important to know some of the main differences between the two, so you can make the most informed decision about what is right for your commercial property. 

Due to where these facades are placed means that there is also a difference in their general structure. 

Storefronts, for example, are generally known to be the façade of a retail store positioned on the ground floor of a commercial property. Usually, boasting a large display window to showcase its products and services, the window frames themselves will usually be made from aluminium, steel or wood (this is because a smaller frame may be used, maximising the amount of window space a retail unit has), and will typically include glass to provide ultimate visibility. 

Curtain walls, however, are much thinner in their design with aluminium frames primarily being the material of choice. The in-fill is typically made up of metal panels, glass or light stone, depending on the commercial building and its overall look and design structure. 

This type of construction will not carry the buildings floor or roof loads as they are attached to the building structure, not a prominent part of it. 

Due to this fact, curtain walls can be much larger than storefronts. For example, a curtain wall frame can reach at least 13-feet high, while a storefront frame will be restricted to no more than 10 feet in height. 

Thickness is also a difference between the two, with curtain walls having a depth of anywhere between 2.5 inches and 8 inches, compared to a storefront which can’t exceed 2 inches (due to the weight load a storefront has to carry). 

Water infiltration is another vital difference to note between the two, and how both systems handle rain, etc. will help with your decision making. 

For storefronts, water will be directed to the sill flashing, usually through the vertical mullion, which is then discharged slowly out of the building. However, when extreme weather hits, problems such as overloading of the water flow systems can be common; hence the reason why storefronts are kept to ground level as well as have roof overhangs to protect them further from external elements. 

For curtain walls, every glass lite is wept away individually. Causing minimum disruption and no additional systems need to be put in place to protect the building. 

Taking everything into account cost is still one of the most significant factors in the decision-making process. It can’t be denied that storefronts are the cheaper option and are the perfect solution for elevations and entrances on commercial properties situated on the ground floor. 

However, aluminium curtain walls, for all pricier for both materials and production, are the superior product in terms of their functionality and design. 

Which one is best for you? 

This is entirely up to you and the position of your retail property.  

However, at Crucial Engineering, our team of aluminium fabrication experts will be able to answer your questions as well as provide you with ideal solutions to suit your requirements. 

Make sure to call us today on 03451 930 420 to find out more and see how we can help you. 

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