Similar yet different, curtain and window walls often get confused, especially when certain variations of each look so alike! But regardless of which of these solutions you use, one thing is guaranteed: a stunning look on the outside and an abundance of natural light on the inside.
Learn the key difference between a curtain wall and a window wall (and what makes one a “curtain”), the benefits of each, and when and why you might use them.
What Is a Curtain Wall?
A curtain wall is a framed structure attached to the exterior of a building. Depending on the project’s design, it’s typically an aluminum frame with in-fills of thin glass, metal, or thin stone. The name “curtain wall” comes from the fact that the structure is affixed to a slab (as opposed to in between them), hanging from the building, essentially acting as a curtain.
Curtain Wall vs. Window Wall
The main distinction between curtain and window walls is how they attach to a building. Curtain walls attach to, or “hang” on, the slab. Window walls attach in between the slabs, making them, in a structural sense, part of the wall itself instead of an overlay.
Visually, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a curtain wall and a window wall, and they both share many of the same functions. Only after having a full understanding of your project’s goals and design intent can you decide which system is best suited for you.
Benefits of a Curtain Wall
One of the biggest benefits of curtain walls is their protective characteristics. Their structure naturally disperses environmental forces that go against it. They reduce building sway from high winds and act as a barrier in slowing fire spread. They’re also a barrier against humidity and weather elements, which helps regulate indoor air quality and thermal efficiency.
Curtain walls can also add unique visual character, as they often double as architectural detail on the outside of a building. They are very popular in commercial building design, as well as modern and large-scale residential projects.
Benefits of Window Walls
Two key benefits of window walls for smaller-scale projects and residential applications are cost savings and ease of installation.
While there are many standard curtain wall products, there’s still a lot of customization or unique factors with any curtain wall project that can result in a more complex manufacturing process and installation.
On the contrary, the process of manufacturing and installing window walls is straightforward, repeatable, and compartmentalized from one slab section to the next. This makes for more cost-efficient manufacturing and faster installation. And unlike curtain walls, window walls can be installed from the inside of a building, making for a safer and less complex.
Additionally, with their segmented nature and sealed attachment to a building structure, window walls tend to have better soundproofing and reduced transmission of smoke and odors.
The Right Solution for Your Project
Window walls and curtain walls are both stunning solutions of high-caliber design and quality. Either is a win-win solution. Your project’s goals, needs, and budget will help determine which products are a good fit, or you could consider a combination of both! Large, gorgeous windows let in natural light and better connect you with the outside environment.
Install Curtain Walls & Window Walls From The French Steel Company
At The French Steel Company, we are experts in custom design, manufacturing, installation, and servicing of window walls and curtain walls. When you sit down with us, we help you define your vision and show you the possibilities.