The curtain wall has become an enduring staple of modern building design since its introduction almost 100 years ago. And its popularity continues today in the 21st century.
With its sleek, streamlined appearance, the curtain wall systems began showing up around 1918 and became more common by the 1930s. After World War II, curtain wall design increased in popularity for commercial and institutional buildings, such as the United Nations Headquarters, which was built in 1949-1950.
Curtain walls are typically constructed using lightweight glass, along with other materials which may include aluminum or other metals, stone, marble, or composite materials. They are designed with numerous factors in mind, such as minimizing air and water infiltration, managing wind pressure, and thermal control.
Routine maintenance is crucial for maintaining the functional and aesthetic value of your curtain walls over time.
Aesthetic Value of Curtain Wall Design
Described by one source as the epitome of “upscale, modern construction,” a slender, non-load-bearing curtain wall, with its metal framing and glass panels, can allow for more usable square footage within the building.
However, long-term exposure to the elements can degrade the appearance and function of the building envelope.
- Fading or peeling of metal frame finishes
- Staining of glass or metal
- Etching of glass or metal
This kind of damage can be exacerbated by improper surface preparation from the original installation and coating of the wall. Further degradation from pollutants ranging from deicing products to exposure to salts and the constant attack of air pollution can also accumulate over time.
Proactive Curtain Wall Repair and Maintenance
Because damage to curtain walls often happens gradually instead of all at once, it can be tempting to neglect routine maintenance and wait until a significant failure occurs, or in response to the loss of beauty over time.
- Extensive repairs and refurbishment to a curtain wall can be difficult and expensive.
- Aesthetic and functional degradation from neglect of maintenance can hurt the value of your building in the marketplace.
But a proactive, ongoing maintenance plan can reduce the risk of those bigger headaches. A good maintenance plan should include routine inspection, regular cleaning, prompt repair of minor problems, and written records of maintenance activity to keep you on track.
Many building managers don’t realize the extent of degradation until they see the improvements made by the glass restoration process, according to Mid America Specialty Services CEO Dale Donat. “You don’t know how bad your glass is until it gets restored.”
In addition to removing years of accumulated damage to glass and other curtain wall materials, proactive maintenance will preserve the beauty and value of your building envelope, and save you money over the long haul, along with appealing to existing and potential tenants.
Have a question about the care of your curtain walls? Contact us at Mid America Specialty Services. We can help you keep your building envelope looking its best for years to come.