What is a curtain wall? Most of the time, it is used as the enclosure system for the external walls of buildings. So what is a curtain wall, and what are its characteristics?

Understanding curtain walls

Curtain walls have gained widespread application across various fields of construction in a short period of time due to their unique functions and characteristics unmatched by other materials. A curtain wall is hung on the exterior of a building much like a screen, which does not have any load-bearing or structural functions. Curtain walls are generally lightweight and aesthetically pleasing, providing some decorative value to buildings. They consist of panels and a supporting structural system for the exterior wall enclosure of a building.

Unique functions and characteristics of curtain walls

1) Artistic effect: The artistic effect of curtain walls is incomparable to that of other materials. It breaks the traditional boundaries between windows and walls, ingeniously merging them into one. It allows buildings to display different tones from various angles, creating dynamic beauty with changes in sunlight, moonlight, artificial light, and surrounding scenery. This unique and bright artistic effect blends with the surrounding environment, avoiding a sense of oppression from tall buildings and erasing the boundary between interior and exterior views.

2) Light-weight: Compared to other wall materials, stick built glass walls are lightweight. With the same surface area, the weight of a glass curtain wall is about 1/10 to 1/12 of a brick wall painted with plaster, 1/15 of a dry-hanging marble or granite curtain wall, and 1/5 to 1/7 of a concrete hanging panel. As the weight of internal and external walls of a building is about 1/4 to 1/5 of the total building mass, using glass curtain walls can greatly reduce the weight of buildings and significantly reduce the impact of earthquakes on the structure.

3) Fast installation: As curtain walls are mainly composed of aluminum profiles and various panels, standard material specifications can be industrialized, and the construction process is simple with minimal wet operations and fewer operating procedures, resulting in fast construction speed. Moreover, glass curtain wall installation offers additional advantages in terms of speed and efficiency. Glass curtain walls are lightweight and modular, allowing for a faster installation process compared to other traditional construction methods. 

4) Convenient maintenance: Curtain walls have strong transformability and are easy to replace. Due to its single material, light weight, and easy installation, replacing a damaged curtain wall with a new one is very convenient and quick, and maintenance is also simple.

5) Low temperature stress: Materials such as glass, metal, and stone are connected to the framework with flexible materials, thereby reducing the temperature stress caused by changes in temperature and alleviating damage caused by seismic forces.