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Main Components of a Curtain Wall

Release time:2024-01-16

Highrise-buildings are a big thing in the modern era of construction. That said, these projects require facade technology to act as an insulation to safeguard the external walls. The most common material used in curtain wall systems is extruded aluminum.

There are varying design considerations you should take into account if you are looking to integrate curtain walls in your projects. Some important parameters are thermal efficiency, the building’s sway, and thermal expansion.

Curtain walls allow a variety of face cover options so you achieve the desired aesthetics. Their type and size flexibility help you achieve personalized, bold and attractive exteriors. Additionally, engineers can actualize intricate project designs in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Information on the components of curtain walls and their function is essential as you evaluate their suitability for a project. Let's get started!


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Components of a Curtain Wall


There are several anchoring options for curtain wall systems. You can go for metal or timber anchors. The most suitable metal for anchoring is stainless steel because of its 25 W/mK - 15 W/mK. Spacers made of pressure resistant and thermal insulation materials enhance the thermal decoupling and minimize the in to out heat conduction. Due to the curtain walls complexity over its storefront facade counterparts, the attaching mechanism should integrate design-specific anchors. Let's get into some anchor types:

Slotted and Bolted Clips - Curtain walls that extend over several floors require floor line anchoring. The design and preference of the architect determine whether a wind load or dead load is appropriate. These clips are placed in a way that enables free glazing movement while eliminating wind loading.  

F&T Clips - These clips are common in any standard curtain walls. They are placed into the open edges of vertical mullions using a sliding mechanism. This allows for anchoring with other components of the system like the head and sill. 

F perimeter anchor - This is a component made through aluminum extrusion which is used for reducing the joint sizes and preventing the jamb from deflecting.

Embed anchors - These anchors are integrated into the concrete and then joined with system clips using the welding mechanism.



The most commonly used glass in curtain walls is the vision glass. The glassing option allows for multiple glazing and finishing options. Some of the glass types are:

Laminated glass - This type is a combination of several glass layers that are covered with plastic for increased support even in occasions when the glass cracks. If you are searching for curtain wall glazings for projects in areas prone to harsh conditions like hurricanes or blasts, this type is your best bet.

Annealed glass - the most outstanding feature of this glass type is its outstanding solidness against fracturing. This resistance can be attributed to the production process which involves regulated heating and cooling. The downside of the annealed glass is that it cracks sharply hence its reduced popularity.

Spandrel glass - you can go for the opaque or the tinted version of this glazing and connect the head and sill. Additionally, you can incorporate clear glass in the shadow box for a depth effect.

Horizontal Rails and Vertical Rails - these components of the curtain wall system play a key role in structural support. They are installed on the beam and are positioned one by one. It is essential that you do your homework when it comes to the quality of these glazings. Nevertheless, the unitized curtain walls in the market come as two units that you have to connect.


The Frame

The curtain wall frame can be made of a variety of materials like aluminum, steel, and glass. Some common curtain wall frame types are:

Stick systems - this is the most common type of curtain wall frame. They have basic features

standard curtain walls are known as stick systems.

Unit mullion systems - these curtain wall frames are a blend of the unitized system framing features and the stick systems ones. They have both vertical mullions and horizontal mullions for increased efficiency.  

Unitized systems - this type is almost similar to the stick curtain walls besides from the fact that the components are assembled during preparation for purchase.

Column cover and spandrel systems - this type allows for better flexibility as you can have it assembled by the manufacturer or at the project site, and then place them in the middle of the column overs.


Curtain Wall Systems: Types

Curtain walls in the market are often available in their precast form. The assembly is done right before delivery to your project site. The main types of curtain walls are:

Unitized System

These curtain walls have single components which are put together in the manufacturing plant. This offers you an easier set up process as all parts are pre-assembled. The dimensions of these curtain wall systems are determined by the ones on your project. They are highly suitable for high rise buildings because they eliminate the cost that comes with additional structural support.

 If you are looking to enhance the quality and speed of construction this is a good option to consider. All you need is hoisting equipment like a mini crane. The downside to this type is the added transportation and shipping costs.


Stick System

Unlike the aforementioned type, the stick curtain wall is assembled at the project site. It is common for standard construction projects due to its flexibility. The best perk of this type is that it allows for adjustments during construction. Its main benefit is its cost effectiveness while its downside is that it requires more labor.



Curtain walls are an innovative answer to successful construction and renovation projects. Their cost effectiveness varies depending on whether you opt for the standard curtain walls or custom-made ones; custom curtain walls are more price competitive. The best way to achieve optimum efficiency when it comes to these non-structural systems is proper design implementation.

This allows for better practicality, lighting, and transparency. The flexibility of the fabrication process of curtain wall materials helps architects in overcoming the hurdle of achieving durable, waterproof, easy to install, and efficient curtain walls. Hiring a professional in the curtain walls field is essential if you want to achieve an effective design. JMA is a leading supplier of quality aluminum curtain wall components. Contact us today for a prompt quote!

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Nonferrous Metal Industrial Park, Xiaotang, Shishan Town, Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province

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Gaobian Zhangbian Industrial Zone, Dali Guangyun Road, Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province

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