What Are Glass Curtain Walls?

What Are Glass Curtain Walls?

September 4, 2020

Curtain walls are a functional and decorative design choice, where a thin metal frame surrounds a panel, often made from glass, stone or other materials. These frames are attached to the side of a building. They don’t bear the weight of the roof, and the wind load is transferred to the rest of the structure. This feature has been popular since the 1930s.

Glass curtain walls are popular in Alaska thanks to their beauty and versatility. They can be installed in both commercial and residential buildings, and on both the exterior and interior.

Types of glass curtain walls

There are two major types of glass curtain walls: stick systems and unitized systems. Stick systems have one frame with hundreds to millions of glass panels, while unitized systems are larger units that are assembled in a factory and then attached to the building frame.

Glass curtain walls in Alaska are either installed externally or internally. The installation you choose depends on the effect you’re going for. For example, if you have a high-rise building where it’s difficult to install anything on the 25th story exterior, you’ll probably want to opt for an interior installation. Exterior installation is better suited for low-rise buildings where contractors can easily access all levels from the outside.

There are also different system types, which may or may not be suitable for your building. For example, face-sealed systems use perfect seals between each glass panel and frame to create a continuous glass face. However, it is difficult to maintain these seals, and they’re not as durable over the long term.

Pressure-equalized systems are good for preventing water and air infiltration. These systems use a gasket with the glass, which creates an airtight barrier around the glass and frame. If you’re in an area that gets a lot of rain, these are an excellent choice—they shed the water and divert it away from the frame.

Finally, water-managed systems divert water away from the glass using drains and weeps, but they don’t provide the same kind of airtight seal that makes pressure-equalized systems so attractive. They tend to leak.

Are glass curtain walls thermally efficient?

Conservation and energy costs are a major factor in building design. Depending on the type of frame used in your glass curtain walls in Alaska, the thermal efficiency varies. Aluminum is very conductive and will enable heat transfer between the interior and exterior, which makes it an inefficient material for your glass curtain walls. Some contractors use thermal breaks to combat this problem.

Finally, the type of glass coatings you use can increase your energy efficiency. Look for glass curtain walls that are coated with low-e and spectrally selective glazes. This will prevent heat transfer and keep your building at just the right temperature.

Are you interested in glass curtain walls in Alaska? Replacement Glass provides both residential and commercial glass solutions. Call us today to learn more about our glass curtain walls and to get a quote. We look forward to working with you soon!

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