What is the difference between cladding and curtain walling?

Cladding and curtain walling are both methods of protecting and enhancing the appearance of a building’s exterior. There are many similarities between the two methods but also several big differences. To help you to make a fully informed decision on the best material for your building development project, here are some of the main characteristics of both cladding and curtain walling.

Cladding – features and benefits


Cladding a building involves attaching a protective or decorative material to the outside of a building. Cladding is installed directly onto the existing building and becomes an integral part of the building’s structure. Its main function is to protect against harsh weather conditions and moisture ingress. It can also help to improve thermal and acoustic insulation.

One of the main benefits of cladding over curtain walling is the choice of materials which are available. Whereas curtain walling is usually made from an aluminium frame with large glass panes, cladding can be made from a variety of different materials. Some popular cladding materials include wood, metal, concrete, and reinforced PVCu.

Curtain Walling – features and benefits

Aluminium window wall with top hung casement windows

Although similar to cladding in that it protects a building’s interior, the main difference is that curtain walling is not part of the building’s structure. Curtain walling is attached to a building’s exterior but is completely self-supporting and does not put any additional load on the building’s structure and foundation. Because of this, curtain walling is by far the safer option.

Aluminium curtain walling does not have the variety of finishes available with cladding. It does, however, create a sleek modernist appearance which is popular with many commercial and high-rise residential installations. The aluminium frames can also be powder coated in almost any colour to provide enhanced customisation.

Curtain walling vs cladding

Large span of aluminium curtain walling for quirky building

In summary, curtain walling provides more advantages than cladding. It is far more durable, provides greater protection against the elements, and is better in terms of thermal and acoustic insulation. It is safer and does not affect the building’s structure and can be integrated with a building’s windows and doors for a uniform aesthetic.

Cladding is easier to install than curtain walling which will require a specialist installer. It is also available in a wider variety of materials and requires less maintenance and periodic cleaning. Overall, curtain walling is the best choice for most large scale commercial and multi-storey residential installations while cladding may be a better choice for increasing the protection of a single-family residential property.

At Techniglaze, we install a range of high performing curtain walling systems. To find out more call 01761 417 654 or contact us online.