What is the difference between curtain walls and other types of cladding?
Dr. Prashanth Reddy: Curtain walls are primarily glass, and used for areas that require ‘vision’. They have their own structural support due to the installation technique used. Glazing can be done on curtain walls to make them opaque or transparent. Cladding is always fitted on dead walls, using cladding material and sub-structures. Aluminium frames are used in both cases to install and support the panels.
Shankho Chowdhury: Curtain wall systems are non-structural cladding systems for the exterior walls of buildings. They are usually associated with large, multi-storey buildings. Thus, curtain wall can be referred to as a subset of the cladding systems.
Debashis Roy: Curtain wall is of two kinds: structural curtain wall, which has two variations – unitised curtain wall and semi-unitised curtain wall; and cap curtain wall, which is either pressure plate-fitted or cover cap-fitted. On the other hand, cladding is a skin made with materials like stone, aluminium, steel, zinc, copper, cloth, fibre, etc, with mechanical fixing.
Parul Mittal: While exterior façades are primarily meant to protect structures from the wear and tear that is caused by external factors, like water, wind, sun, dust, rain etc, curtain walling is a non-structural design that protects the interior and the occupants of the building from harsh weathers including wind and water infiltration. Curtain walls are generally associated with large, multi-storey buildings, because they need constant maintenance to ensure they remain in the best condition.
Though cladding and curtain walls have some similarities, one of the key advantages that cladding has over curtain walling is the variety of styles that you can choose from – which will depend on the type of structure you wish to refurbish. For example, if you choose to redecorate your home, you may pick wood cladding to give your home a rustic and cosy feel. If you’re looking at transforming your office space, you may select from a wide range of solid, wood and abstract patterns. The variety of colours and designs available under Greenlam claddings ensures innovative applications for main gates, pergolas, fencing, router cut entrance gates, balconies, etc.
Are there enough choices in the Indian market for fire-proof cladding? What about environment-friendly cladding options?
Dr. Reddy: With the recent updates in National Building Code of India, it is heartening to see the importance given to fire rating of façade systems. The Max Exterior range from FunderMax is a flame-retardant material that doesn’t propagate fire as a medium. FunderMax high-pressure laminates are made from wood pulp derived from sustainably managed forests with FSC or PEFC ratings. The resins that go into the production do not have any adverse effects on the environment, and are a perfect fit for both interior and exterior applications.
Chowdhury: CenturyExteria HPL Panels are ‘Class A’ fire retardant, as per the standards of EN 438-Part 6 and ASTM E84. It is also bestowed with the Greenguard certification, which ensures that this product is acceptable for use in green buildings and other delicate environments such as schools and healthcare facilities.
Roy: Currently, we have options for fireproof cladding. Many corporates are changing ACP and converting into fire-rated A2 grade. Fire-rated mineral wool is also readily available in the market, and most of the good contractors are using those under different brand names.
Our company has been contracted to install a green façade for a prestigious building in South Mumbai. To get a better rated building or green building, recycled aluminium is also a good choice. We, as a responsible façade contractor, always believe in sustainable development.
Mittal: Cladding has been in use for a little while now, and fireproofing has always been one of the many
factors taken into consideration. They bring a lot to the
table in terms of structural integrity and overall protection. Now, while there has been a certain level of awareness
that has been there among the masses, the Grenfell tower tragedy made people realise the importance of fireproofing their buildings and the role that cladding plays in
that process.
Greenlam cladding options are eco-friendly, as they reduce the energy consumption requirement. They are ISO certified and come with unmatched GLE technology that makes them fade-resistant, microbial-resistant, weather-proof and fire-resistant, hence apt for exteriors. They come with high fire rating – BS1DO – which is best in the category. These are ventilated façades, which makes them ideal for different weather conditions.

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