Curtain Walls – What Are They Made Of?

Spend any time in one of the UK’s major cities and you’ll see a lot of curtain walls – most likely without realising it. Non-structural, but more than just decorative, these cost-effective additions to many types of modern building have revolutionised the appearance and functionality of some of our most iconic pieces of architecture. But what are curtain walls made of?

Aluminium systems

Incorporated into almost every modern building, aluminium is strong and light – which makes it the perfect material with which to construct a curtain wall. Curtain walls are mostly used in large, multi-storey buildings such as skyscrapers and large office blocks – so they need to be strong and sturdy yet light-weight enough to be erected and stay in place without issue. Durable and corrosion- resistant, aluminium will stand the test of time for years to come. In addition, it is also malleable and versatile, meaning structures can be created in virtually any shape at any size – enabling architects to break through old restrictions placed upon them by more traditional materials.

Ventilation and insulation

Curtain walls do need to serve an important purpose in the overall function of a building – ensuring that heat is kept in and cold kept out and vice versa depending on the season and temperature. Businesses and landowners also now have an increased ecological responsibility – and as such curtain walls represent an economically viable option in more ways than one which can actively reduce the carbon footprint of an organisation. Vents and ventilation units can be installed as part of a curtain wall to allow air to flow freely from the outside in, and vice versa – as well as the incorporation of specialist glass and double glazing.

Aesthetic finishing

Whilst aluminium has many structural advantages, it is also versatile aesthetically speaking and can be dressed using a variety of finishes. Powder-coating, for example, enables architects and building owners to choose from a huge variety of colours and textures. An alternative to liquid paint, this method is used to add hard-wearing, long-lasting colour to a range of metallic surfaces. Glass can also be adapted to suit the look and feel of a building – as it can be tinted, engraved or embellished post-construction with ‘stickers’ or sophisticated frosting to customise as per specific requirement.