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Curtain walling is a crucial architectural element that plays a pivotal role in the construction of modern buildings. It not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of a structure but also contributes to its energy efficiency and overall sustainability.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of curtain walling, including its types, materials used, benefits, installation process, maintenance, and common issues.

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By the end of this article, you will have a thorough understanding of curtain walling and its significance in contemporary architectural design and construction.

Whether you are a building owner, developer, architect, or simply interested in construction, this article will provide valuable insights into the world of curtain walling.

So, let’s explore the intricacies of this architectural marvel and gain a deeper understanding of its functionality and maintenance.

What is Curtain Walling?

Curtain walling is a non-structural cladding system for the external walls of buildings.

Curtain walling is an essential architectural feature that forms the exterior envelope of modern buildings, providing a sleek and dynamic facade through the use of glass, aluminium, and other innovative materials.

What is Curtain Walling?

It plays a pivotal role in contemporary architecture, effectively blending structural integrity with captivating aesthetics. This system not only acts as a protective barrier against external elements but also allows natural light to flood the interior spaces, creating a visually striking and inviting environment.

From an engineering perspective, curtain walling requires meticulous design and precision installation to ensure the structural stability and safety of the building. Its seamless integration into modern construction and design has greatly influenced the evolving landscape of architectural innovation and urban development.

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Types of Curtain Walling

Curtain walling encompasses various types, including:

Each offers unique design and construction features that cater to diverse cladding and glazing requirements.

Stick Curtain Walling

Stick curtain walling involves the on-site assembly of aluminium mullions and transoms, allowing for versatile facade construction and efficient installation processes.

This construction methodology offers flexibility in design by enabling the use of varying glass types and materials, contributing to visually striking architectural appearances. The structural support of stick curtain walling relies on the precise alignment and anchoring of the aluminium components to ensure a secure and durable installation.

The integration of aluminium materials in stick curtain walling facilitates lightweight yet resilient structures, enhancing the overall functionality and aesthetic appeal of modern building facades.

Unitised Curtain Walling

Unitised curtain walling features pre-assembled units that offer enhanced energy efficiency and superior weather resistance, streamlining the construction process and optimising performance.

These pre-assembled units are designed to fit seamlessly together, reducing the need for extensive on-site construction and minimising installation time. The modular design allows for easier customisation and flexibility in accommodating different building configurations. By utilising lightweight materials and efficient installation techniques, unitised curtain walling contributes to overall construction efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The precise engineering of unitised systems ensures tighter seals and greater insulation, resulting in significant energy savings and improved building sustainability.

Semi-Unitised Curtain Walling

Semi-unitised curtain walling combines on-site assembly with pre-assembled units, offering a balanced approach that facilitates construction, glazing integration, and future maintenance requirements.

This approach maximises construction efficiency by streamlining installation processes while providing flexibility for integrating different glazing systems. It addresses the vital aspect of future maintenance, allowing access to individual units for repairs or replacements without disrupting the entire facade.

The cohesive combination of construction, glazing integration, and maintenance considerations makes semi-unitised curtain walling a preferred choice for modern architectural designs.

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Materials Used in Curtain Walling

Curtain walling utilises a variety of materials to achieve diverse cladding and glazing solutions that contribute to the aesthetic and structural integrity of buildings.


Aluminium is a widely used material in curtain walling due to its lightweight construction, energy-efficient properties, and sustainable attributes, contributing to the modernisation and sustainability of building envelopes.

Its lightweight nature makes it easy to handle during construction, reducing labour costs and making installation more efficient. Aluminium’s energy-efficient properties support better insulation and climate control within buildings, contributing to reduced energy consumption and lower utility costs.

The sustainability of aluminium lies in its recyclability, allowing for the creation of a closed-loop system that reduces the environmental impact of construction projects while promoting a circular economy.


Glass is a prominent material in curtain walling, offering structural support, innovative design possibilities, and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of modern architectural facades.

Designers and architects appreciate the versatility of glass in creating visually striking buildings with an emphasis on transparency and light.

The use of toughened glass in shopfronts and curtain walling allows for seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, whilst the reflective and translucent qualities of glass can introduce a dynamic element to the overall aesthetic of a structure.

This design flexibility enables architects to play with light, reflection, and visual depth, contributing to the creation of architectural masterpieces that capture the essence of modern design and aesthetics.


Steel is used in curtain walling for its exceptional structural integrity, durability, and weather-resistant properties, providing strong support and long-term performance for building facades.

The durability of steel in curtain walling is evident through its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, corrosion, and environmental exposure. Its robustness ensures that the building facade remains strong and resilient over the years, requiring minimal maintenance.

The weather resistance of steel in curtain walling offers protection against moisture and UV exposure, contributing to the longevity and aesthetic appeal of the structure. These qualities make steel an ideal choice for architects and builders seeking durable and reliable solutions for modern building exteriors.

Materials Used in Curtain Walling


Stone is utilised in curtain walling to enhance aesthetics, introduce natural light dynamics, and offer durable, low-maintenance solutions for architectural facades.

Its natural variability provides a unique, organic appeal that complements any architectural style, whilst its durability ensures longevity with minimal upkeep.

By allowing natural light to filter through, stone curtain walling creates a warm and inviting atmosphere inside buildings, reducing the need for artificial lighting and contributing to energy efficiency.

The low-maintenance properties of stone make it an attractive choice for architects and building owners, as it requires minimal cleaning and upkeep to preserve its timeless beauty.

Terracotta Clay

Terracotta is an ideal material for curtain walling cladding, offering effective insulation, ventilation, and architectural charm, contributing to energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal.

Its natural properties make terracotta an ideal choice for providing thermal insulation, helping to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption. Terracotta’s porous nature allows for efficient ventilation, facilitating air circulation and maintaining a healthy indoor environment.

These features not only enhance the sustainability of buildings but also add a timeless elegance to their exteriors, making terracotta a versatile and sought-after option for modern architectural designs.

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Benefits of Curtain Walling

Curtain walling offers numerous benefits making it a compelling choice for modern architectural designs and building envelopes.

We have listed some of the advantages of curtain walls below.

Aesthetic Appeal

The aesthetic appeal of curtain walling contributes to the modern architectural landscape, promoting urban development and enriching building facades with visually striking and contemporary design elements.

Its innovative use of glass, metal, and other modern materials offers limitless possibilities for creating sleek and distinctive building exteriors that redefine city skylines. The seamless integration of curtain walling technology allows architects to push the boundaries of design, incorporating natural light and panoramic views to enhance the urban environment.

By blending functionality with artistic expression, curtain walling plays a pivotal role in shaping the evolving aesthetic and structural language of contemporary architecture, reflecting the progressive spirit of urban development.

Energy Efficiency

Curtain walling enhances energy efficiency through advanced insulation, sustainable materials, and innovative building technology, contributing to the environmental sustainability and thermal performance of modern structures.

This type of walling is designed to minimise heat loss and gain, allowing for better regulation of indoor temperatures and reducing the overall energy consumption of a building. By incorporating sustainable materials such as low-emissivity glass and high-performance coatings, curtain walling helps to maximise natural light while minimising heat transfer.

The integration of building technology such as smart shading systems and solar photovoltaic panels further enhances the energy efficiency of modern structures, making them more environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run.

Natural Light

Curtain glazing facilitates the ingress of natural light, creating a harmonious interior-exterior connection whilst optimising ventilation and integrating glass elements to illuminate and enliven building spaces.

This approach not only enhances the ambience within the building but also promotes a sense of openness and connectedness with the surrounding environment. By allowing natural light to permeate the interior, curtain glazing contributes to a healthier and more engaging indoor space, reducing the reliance on artificial lighting and decreasing energy consumption.

The thoughtful integration of ventilation elements within the design of curtain glazing supports a well-ventilated environment, fostering a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for occupants.

Simple Maintenance

Curtain walling offers easy maintenance solutions, streamlining building maintenance processes and facilitating quality control management, ensuring long-term performance and client satisfaction.

The integration of project management into the maintenance aspects of curtain walling greatly contributes to the smooth execution of maintenance schedules and seamless repair processes.

The stringent quality control measures embedded within the curtain walling systems play a vital role in upholding structural integrity and aesthetic appeal, thereby enhancing client satisfaction. By encompassing these features, curtain walling serves as a crucial element in ensuring efficient building maintenance and delivering long-term value to clients.

Cost Savings

Curtain walling presents substantial cost savings through its durable, cost-effective design, and efficient project coordination, providing a financially attractive solution for commercial and residential developments.

This project coordination advantage streamlines the construction process, minimising delays and ensuring smoother progress. The durability of curtain walling ensures long-term cost-effectiveness by reducing maintenance and replacement expenses.

By integrating seamlessly into architectural designs, curtain walling allows for innovative and modern aesthetics while balancing budget considerations. As a result, it is an increasingly preferred choice for developers and architects seeking to optimise cost savings without compromising on quality and visual appeal.

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Installation Process of Curtain Walling

The installation process of curtain walling involves collaborative efforts between contractors, engineers, architects, and construction experts to ensure precise execution, adherence to building codes, and compliance with industry standards.

Contractors play a pivotal role in facilitating the physical installation of the curtain walling, utilising their expertise in construction and adhering to industry standards. Engineers contribute by providing structural input and ensuring the integration of the curtain walling with the building’s overall design and functionality.

Installation Process of Curtain Walling

Architects oversee the aesthetic and functional aspects, aligning the installation process with the project vision.

The cohesive interaction among these professionals is essential for a seamless construction process and the successful implementation of the curtain walling system.

Maintenance and Repair of Curtain Walling

The maintenance and repair of curtain walling demand strict adherence to safety standards, effective coordination with suppliers and manufacturers, and well-defined project timelines to ensure continuous performance and client satisfaction.

These safety standards are put in place to protect the workers and anyone else who may be exposed to potential hazards during maintenance and repair activities.

Coordination with suppliers and manufacturers is essential to ensure the timely availability of high-quality materials and components, which directly impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of the maintenance process.

Well-defined project timelines help in managing resources effectively and meeting client expectations, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the maintenance and repair projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Cladding and Curtain Walling?

The difference between curtain walling and cladding is that curtain wall systems envelop entire buildings, while cladding serves as the outer protective layer.

No inherent superiority exists; it depends on specific requirements.

Is Curtain Walling Structural?

Curtain wall systems serve as non-structural cladding and are applied externally on buildings.

Curtain walls usually feature a lightweight aluminium frame and support glazed or opaque panels, commonly referred to as glazing, irrespective of the material used.

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Is Curtain Walling Expensive?

The cost of curtain walling varies based on factors like materials, size, and complexity.

It’s generally considered a significant investment in building construction, with expenses influenced by specific project requirements.

What is the British Standard for Curtain Walling?

The British Standard for curtain walling is BS EN 13830:2016.

This standard specifies the product performance requirements, including resistance to wind load, impact, and other relevant criteria.

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