Window Walls vs. Curtain Walls

Window walls open the indoors to the landscape.
Window walls open the indoors to the landscape. (Image: petit salon d'attente. image by Ignatius Wooster from

A window wall is primarily glass and support framing. A curtain wall is covered with curtains to give the illusion of a window wall, or it can describe a type of glass window wall system found primarily on commercial buildings. Window walls are designed to bring light into the space and to open interior rooms to the landscape. Often a window wall will be positioned to capture the views of the landscape or the intimate garden. Curtain walls are designed to soften the interior's appearance.

Maximizing the View

A view of a city or the ocean can add significant value to a home. Many homes are designed to maximize the view through the installation of window walls. A window wall is a large arrangement of glass doors and windows across a single wall.

Softening a Room

A curtain wall is often installed in a room with few windows and problematic walls. This type of wall is common to basements and media rooms. The curtain wall absorbs sound and adds color and softness to a space. The wall can be used like a headboard or wall treatment. Some curtain walls actually divide the space and can be drawn back to remove the wall when it isn't needed.

A curtain wall installed behind a couch.
A curtain wall installed behind a couch. (Image: canapé image by reynald lassire from

Embracing Light

Window walls are also very good at bringing light into the interior of a home. Many passive solar homes use window walls to heat the indoor tile floors to warm a home in the winter. Select glass for the window wall that reduces UV radiation and maximizes usable light. Often a brighter interior looks larger, which adds visual square footage to a home.

Heat Loss

Curtain walls are installed around basement stairways to close off the stairway from heat loss during the winter. The curtain panels are thickly insulated and hung from a ceiling track that can be bent to wrap around the bottom of the staircase. By simply drawing the curtains, an additional layer of insulation helps control heat or air-conditioning loss, which reduces bills and makes the house more comfortable.

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