How Much Does a Glass Curtain Wall Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 10, 2018

Glass curtain walls, used widely in commercial high rise construction, are typically non-structural and have the sole purpose of keeping the weather out, adding an aesthetic appeal to the building or home.

In particular, glass curtain walls provide a great advantage because the natural light can infiltrate deeper within the building.  Due to the characteristics, glass curtain walls also help reduce construction costs.

Glass Curtain Wall II Burj Khalifa by andryn2006, on Flickr
Glass Curtain Wall II Burj Khalifa” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  andryn2006

How much does a glass curtain wall cost per square foot?

On average, a glass curtain wall is going to cost between $25 to $140+ per square foot.  This cost will depend on the type of glass being used, the degree of transparency, the design, the thickness, and the company used.    The installation may often be influenced by the following factors: the glass (type, size, treatment, and availability), the complexity of design, design modifications, the scope of performance evaluation, the intricacy of manufacture, special elements, the process of approval, as well as logistics.  Replacing may cost upwards of $175 to $250 per square foot, for example, while installing for the first time can cost $25 to $75 per square foot.  This price is often the same for both residential and commerical applications.

Ambrico, the American Brick Company, noted the average glass curtain wall can cost close to $52 per square foot.

Glass curtain wall overview

There are various types of glass curtain wall systems, including the Stick System, Unit Panel System, Unit and Mullion System, and Column Cover, Spandrel System, and Point Loaded Structural Glazing System.  Glass curtain walls are thinner in size and are formed by the framework, which is usually made of aluminum.  The spaces, in between the frame, will be filled with glass, thin stone or metal panels.

Depending on the type and grade of glass  you choose, it could have the following qualities:

Insulation.  On average, about 25% of the energy from homes and buildings escapes through the windows.  This type of glass should have insulation aspects to prevent this from happening.

Security.  The type of glass that is used for a glass curtain wall should be made with safety and security in mind, meaning that the glass has a low risk of an accident by impact, fracture, shattering, or in a fire.   Security means that the glass is resistant to deliberate attacks and much harder to break than a traditional window.

Noise.  The noise from around a home or building can easily travel through a traditional pane of glass.  Certain types of glass, however, are designed to reflect that noise back to its source and block out excessive noise.

Cleaning.  There are new types of glass that have self-cleaning qualities to help reduce the cost of cleaning the windows on a regular basis.  This glass uses a special glaze combined with rainwater and sunlight to keep itself free from dirt and debris.

More expensive specialty types of glass could also have the following options:

What are the extra costs?

Glass curtain walls require maintenance, such as window washing, seal replacement, and glass insulation, to name a few.

Tips to know:

A glass curtain wall is often designed using lightweight materials and does not carry any dead load weight from the structure except for its own dead load weight.

Take into account future access to the glass curtain wall to ensure that the system is practical.  Make sure to consider this when the building is still being designed.

Curtain wall anchors are a critical element of any glass curtain wall installation and must be designed appropriately.

For successful assemblies, the design team must have a complete understanding of the design and construction phases that merely comprise a tiny portion of the lifespan of the wall.  Other important factors to consider include access, serviceability, as well as repair and maintenance.

Curtain wall systems play a vital role in the efficient consumption of energy by reducing unnecessary glare, leveling cooling loads and thermal comfort.

How can I save money?

Consider internal glazing for curtain wall assemblies as this usually lessens glass replacement costs since there is no required exterior swing stage access.  The process requires installing glass from the interior of the building.

Flatter curtain walling systems generally cost less than other types.

Take advantage of repetitive components such as corner conditions, faceting, and raked cutting and consider these for extra-over expenses to the entire curtain walling cost.

Avoid future costly problems by addressing curtain wall issues during the designing stage.


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