Curtain walls systems are defined as thin aluminum framed walls featuring in-fills of metal panels, glass or light stone. The framing section is basically attached to the building’s structure and does not carry the roof or floor loads of the facility. However, these systems’ gravity and wind loads are transferred to the construction structure, which is typically at the bottom line. The curtain walls systems also known as building’s facade protects the interior and occupants from external elements. These arrangements are considered non-structural cladding systems, which are designed to have resistance against air and wall infiltration primarily. Since they are separate from the external walls and only support their weight, lighter materials and products such as ACM panels can be used for aesthetic enhancement, maintenance, and construction cost reduction.


Curtain walls systems rapidly came into utilization dating back to 1930s during the World War 2. In that period, aluminum was becoming available to be used for architectural purposes. These systems have become one of the essential construction industry elements equivalent to that of other structural materials in the current era. However, manufacturers and engineers improve their designs for better and more long-lasting results due to the high level of exposure to the exterior atmosphere. Moreover, curtain walls require appropriate maintenance and installation. Even Aluminum composite panels or ACM panels, one of the most durable and stable cladding materials in the industry, require maintenance once in a while. All of this will depend on the durability and functionality of the system installed to support the facility’s structure.

Curtain Walls Systems Types and Their Components

Curtain walls systems designs often consist of extruded aluminum framing designs which are generally combined with substances such as glass, stone, veneer, and metal sheets or panels. Manufacturers add vents or louvres to provide light for the interior and allow air ventilation. It is good to note that these systems are often precast at a factory and assembled before transporting them to the construction site. Curtain walls systems can be classified based on their installation and fabrication methods. Generally, there are two types of designs available in the market depending on the assembly method of their components: stick and unitized curtain wall systems.

Stick Curtain Wall

In this system type, the primary components are attached and combined piece by piece on the construction structure. The sick curtain wall method is suitable for low-rise buildings and small regions. For reaching higher elevations, it is essential to have exterior access; thus, using this system for such cases will be inefficient. This method provides flexibility as it allows builders to have space for onsite adjustments. Additionally, it has a low shipping cost advantage. However, the time consumption and labour costs should not be underestimated as it tends to run considerably high.

Unitized Curtain Wall

In contrast with the stick method, the components are assembled and brought as a single unit from the factory to the construction area in unitized curtain walls systems. Thus, this can negate the individual installation requirements. The size of the unitized system is directly equivalent to the height of every floor of the building. Despite their usability in high-rise buildings, they will not need external support such as scaffoldings or cranes. However, using mini cranes or temporary hoists is required. The unitized curtain walls system offers quick installation and high quality as the components are manufactured in factory standards and settings. The most noticeable drawback of this system is that it increases the shipping cost due to better protection and more extensive storage area requirements during transportation to the site.

Components of Curtain Walls Systems

These practical buildings systems consist of structural elements and parts. These components are including Transom, Mullions, Vision Glass, and Anchors. Vision glass can be double or triple glazed with reflective coatings. However, some designers prefer to use spandrels which are non-vision glasses. Additionally, pure aluminum sheets, fiber-reinforced plastic known as FRP and louvres or vents are other essential components of curtain walls systems.

Designing curtain walls system’s frames and panels are a considerably complex and challenging task. It involves load transference, water resistance, thermal insulation, ensuing cladding panels to adhere to the frame, preventing dirt accumulation and allowing doors or windows to have free space for opening. Additionally, manufacturers and designers should produce these systems to comply with local building regulations and codes, including providing safety and fire resistance properties, maintenance and repair. Choosing the right curtain wall contractor for installing, repairing and maintaining the construction’s envelope makes a massive difference in any project.