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What is the difference between curtain wall and window wall

Curtain Walls vs. Window Walls

Your choice of glazing systems depends on whether your needs are residential or commercial. Window walls and curtain walls are the two most popular ones in Toronto. Even though both look similar, they are installed and built in different ways. Here are some differences that can help you make an informed decision:


Curtain Walls

Curtain walls are made of metal poles called mullions, which make up the framing of the walls or panels. It is an external, non-bearing wall that is hung off concrete slabs via anchors. Unlike punched windows, these cover the entire exterior of the building it is installed on, which makes it suitable for commercial use.

This glazing system is designed to attach to the façade of a building on the slabs, thus acting as a ‘curtain’ that hangs from the structure. Each unit is sent to the field, ready to be anchored and boasts superior structural strength. Due to its robustness, curtain walls provide excellent protection against harsh elements, such as high wind loads, earthquakes, and can handle larger glass sizes compared to window walls.

At NORTEM, each panel that makes up a curtain wall is inspected for consistent quality control before it is dispatched. This is why our curtain walls are highly durable and do not require a lot of maintenance to remain pristine and functional.

This glazing system is installed using cranes or rigs since it has to cover the façade of the building. The entire process is complex and is more expensive compared to other glazing systems.


Window Walls

Unlike curtain walls, window walls are installed between floor slabs. Each unit is anchored at the head and the sill before it is sealed using caulking. These are popular as residential applications since these can be customized and installed from the inside as well. This makes window walls more cost- efficient and safer compared to curtain walls.

Since window walls are installed between floor slabs, fire stopping is unnecessary. This also allows this glazing option to dampen noise, which curtain walls may not be capable of doing. However, unlike curtain walls, window walls do not have the structural integrity and strength that it can be installed on tall buildings without compromising safety.

Even though window walls are less expensive than curtain walls, the high number of caulk joints it has requires regular maintenance, which can lead to more expenses.

In other words, before choosing either of the glazing systems, consider the aforementioned variables to make an informed decision. Our experienced team has experience installing and maintaining both solutions and can help you determine the best option. Contact us at our head office in Toronto, Ontario today. We will be more than happy to give you a tour of our facility and our showroom.  

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