Reflections Glass and Mirror

What is the difference between storefront and curtain wall systems?

Both storefront and curtain wall systems provide striking glass exteriors for commercial retail spaces or office buildings. However, they have significant differences when it comes to water management and wind load capabilities.


Aluminum storefront glass systems are primarily designed for low-rise applications. Storefronts are usually no more than 10 feet tall. Because storefronts only weep water from the bottom sill pan, their height is limited. A storefront of more than 10 feet can allow more water to enter the system than it can drain. Additionally, a storefront over 10 feet can cause excessive wind-loading forces on the structure during severe weather. This can be mitigated by replacing aluminum with steel, but this is generally not recommended as it is cost-prohibitive and fails to address water management issues.

Curtain Walls

Curtain walls are primarily designed for high-rise applications or large openings. These systems are much more flexible than aluminum storefronts, with a wide array of back members to choose from that meet windloading requirements. Curtain walls are also superior in their ability to manage large amounts of water. Curtain wall systems drain water from the bottom of each lite of glass, eliminating concerns that the system will be overwhelmed with water.

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