Curtain wall systems are cladding systems used on the external face of a building.
These cladding systems are generally associated with multi-storey buildings and typically comprise a lightweight aluminium frame onto which glazed or opaque infill panels are fitted. These infill panels are often described as 'glazing' whether or not they are made of glass.
These curtain walls separate the interior from the exterior, only supporting their own weight and the loads imposed on them, such as wind, seismic and so on which they transfer back to the primary structure of the building. This is in contrast to many forms of traditional construction in which the external walls are a fundamental part of the primary supporting structure of the building.
The curtain wall method of glazing allows glass to be used in large uninterrupted areas creating consistent attractive facades. The flexibility of product can allow for the control of thermal and solar considerations and ultimately the design statement for the building. One example is Pilkington’s Suncool™ range combining one coating efficient thermal properties with some of the lowest Ug values achievable in insulating glass units and a broad range of solar-control options.
With so much glass being used in curtain walling the solar-gain can be very high and needs to be controlled. Most products are available in impact resistant forms to allow the glass to be used at low levels, as a barrier and also for security.