Building Design and Construction

Functional Requirements of Curtain Walls

Curtain walls do not have to be any thicker than required to serve their principal function. Many industrial buildings are enclosed only with light-gage metal. However, for structures with certain types of occupancies and for buildings close to others, attractive appearance and fire resistance are important characteristics. Fireresistance requirements in local building codes often govern in determining the thickness and type of material used for curtain walls.
In many types of buildings, it is desirable to have an exterior wall with good insulating properties. Sometimes a dead-air space is used for this purpose. Sometimes insulating material is incorporated in the wall or erected as a backup.
The exterior surface of a curtain wall should be made of a durable material, capable of lasting as long as the building. Maintenance should be a minimum; initial cost of the wall is not so important as the life-cycle cost (initial cost plus maintenance and repair costs).
To meet requirements of the owner and the local building code, curtain walls may vary in construction from a simple siding to a multilayer-sandwich wall. They may be job-assembled or be delivered to the job completely prefabricated.
Walls with masonry components should meet the requirements of Arts. 11.2 to 11.12.

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