Many new commercial building projects are designed with large glass curtain walls attached to the exterior structure of the buildings. These glass walls allow filtered natural light to enter the interior of the building and create a beautiful exterior. Another advantage of these wall systems is to increase fire spread between floors and keep air and water out. Typically, a curtain wall covers more than one floor and consists of a metal frame with glass. Unfortunately, these glass walls are often damaged during construction activities at considerable expense.
Curtain walls can be damaged during transport to the site, during installation and after installation during other construction works. There are several methods that manufacturers can use to protect aluminum windows and legs from shipping damage. Protecta foam strips can be quickly attached to a metal surface and act as a protective barrier between stacked wall elements. Reinforced 2.5″ to 4.0″ cardboard edge protectors can be taped to all edges of the units for shipping. Finally, rolled cardboard can be used in some cases if the weight of the units is not enough to crush the cardboard. Wall glasses can be protected from scratches during transport with an adhesive window film.
Once delivered to the site, unpacked and installed correctly, curtain walls are at the greatest risk of damage. Different construction industries work both outside and inside the construction project for months or years. Not only can aluminum be scratched or scratched, but glass also has a high risk of being scratched and broken. Some glasses can be very expensive if they offer seismic or hurricane impact resistant or ballistic resistant glass as specified in courthouse projects. Protecting both glass and metal after curtain wall installation is a smart move for every contractor.
Most of the damage to curtain walls occurs in the lowest 5 feet of walls on each floor of the building. Here, workers and equipment are closest to the walls. The best protection is provided by a “wall” in front of the glass wall itself. This protective wall can be built from wood or plastic. Although wood is the strongest wall protection available, it is also expensive and time-consuming to erect. Corrugated boards in 4-by-8-foot sections can be taped together in front of a curtain wall, making the wall light and easy to build. Unlike wood, plastic can be cleaned to remove dust and dirt if necessary. Since there is no electricity for lights in early construction, protective walls made of white or clear plastic allow natural light into the building.
As the demand for curtain walls continues to grow, the need to protect these walls during construction is a challenge. Advanced architects and building owners are taking the next step in wall systems by moving from energy saving to energy production. These newer walls with solar modules are even more expensive and difficult to repair or replace. With proper foresight and temporary curtain wall protection, the smart contractor doesn’t have to worry about damage to their curtain wall systems.