Published On: Fri, Apr 17th, 2020

Kestrel Aluminium Systems Ltd

Address: 180 Rupert St, Nechells, Birmingham B7 5DT

Tel: 0121 333 3575 – Email:

Curtain walling opens up in house building

Aluminium curtain walling is setting new standards in house building explains Kestrel Aluminium’s Technical Manager Ian Osborne

Mention curtain walling to any specifier or contractor and it’s an odds on bet they won’t associate the term with residential projects. However, technical developments have gradually extended the design scope of such systems, first to multiple occupancy housing and subsequently to individual architect-designed homes. So, what has prompted this? When you look at what curtain walling is this should come as no real surprise. Essentially, it is a façade with framing made of metal, PVC-U or timber with vertical or horizontal elements. These are anchored to the supporting structure to provide the functions of an external wall without it being load bearing. This has positive benefits in terms of installation speed and cost.

In addition, though PVC-U is still used extensively in house building it has clear drawbacks, particularly in terms of expansion and contraction. Aluminium, by contrast, is highly stable and therefore offers a far longer design life. Developments in thermal technology affecting aluminium systems is also a commonly cited reason for their use. Those from manufacturers such as Kestrel Aluminium retain heat effectively thereby limiting its transfer. They also provide an exceptional standard of durability, a feature assisted greatly by modern powder coating techniques. Enhanced colour fastness and coating stability prevent any risk of peeling, flaking or fading, retaining an as-installed appearance for years to come.

Such a noticeably improved, lasting visual aesthetic is enhanced by the ability to manufacture any RAL shade to meet project-specific requirements. Specialist manufacturers can also produce dual colours to complement existing or planned facets of interior and exterior design.
On bi-folding sliding doors and windows, slimmer frames provide a sleek, unobtrusive appearance that even ten years ago might have been considered unachievable. This enables the glazing area to be correspondingly larger while limiting any potential for obstruction of sight lines to the external landscape.

Importantly, aluminium has an inherent strength and light weight that PVC-U does not. Systems can therefore be installed in far wider spans of up to ten panels, each a metre wide. The resulting clean lines provide a more streamlined appearance while, for compliance with ADoc Part M, the option of a low threshold with a 13mm step exceeds the Standard’s maximum permissible height of 15mm . This is not only practical for the disabled, infirm and young but in keeping with the proportions with the frame.
Kestrel Aluminium Technical Manager Ian Osborne commented: “Aluminium frames now provide a combination of the key features a designer needs – strength, thermal efficiency (enhanced by the use of a larger glazing area) and a distinctive visual aesthetic. Add to that the total recyclability of aluminium and it also scores highly in terms of sustainability. Only 5-10% of the energy used in production of the primary metal is needed when refabricating from recovered material. Anodised aluminium, by contrast, is produced by a process now considered to be environmentally harmful.”

A prime example of a housing project in which curtain walling has been installed as a primary feature is the development of five and six bedroom houses by CALA Homes on the Coton House Estate near Rugby. Steve Davies, Architectural Manager for CALA Homes commented: “Each of the properties benefits from spacious, flexible living both inside and out with generous, light-filled rooms and large gardens; designed to accommodate a range of purchasers looking for the perfect balance between old and new.” A Kestrel Aluminium 100mm box and plate curtain walling system incorporating 60mm casement windows creates a dramatic frontage in each case, providing maximum thermal efficiency through use of polyamide thermal breaks. Used in conjunction with low U-value double glazing units, the end result is secure, energy efficient and stylish.
Whether for highly complex architecture or a simple feature of housing design, aluminium curtain walling offers the widest range of uses. With its critical combination of aesthetics and high functionality the material is surely set to secure a steadily increasing market share.