Storefront vs. Curtain Wall

Ashley Christensen
November 3, 2023

Those who have spent any significant period of time around commercial real estate, commercial construction, or architecture have probably heard the terms “storefront” and “curtain wall”. If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard these terms countless times before, but that doesn’t guarantee that you know what they mean. Don’t worry, I am here to help you understand what they are, how they are similar, and how they are different; so the next time you are looking for commercial glass Logan, Utah, you’ll have a better understanding of what you are looking for and what they are talking about. 

First off, both storefront and curtain walls refer to the commercial glass on the exterior of a building. Aside from being composed of the exterior glass portion, they are intended to provide occupants inside the building with maximum sunshine while protecting them from the outside elements. This is where the similarities between the two different systems end. They are more different than they are similar. 


One of the biggest differences between the two is their application. Storefront is a commercial, non-load-bearing framework that consists of commercial windows and entrances. On average, a storefront ranges up to 10 feet in height or less and is generally only found on the ground floor of commercial buildings. 

Curtain walls, on the other hand, are non-load bearing and hang on the exterior of a building like curtains. Depending on the design of the building in which they are intended to be used, it is not uncommon for curtain walls to span across multiple floors, reaching upwards of 25 feet high. 

When it comes to application, the storefront is shorter and more applicable for ground-floor applications and low-rise buildings. Whereas, curtain walls are taller and are more applicable for high-rise buildings. 


As was mentioned in the application section, both storefront and curtain wall systems are intended for different applications, which means they are also designed to perform differently. For example, storefront systems utilize gaskets to create a seal to prevent air and moisture from entering. Whereas, on the higher walls, where curtain walls are designed with a fabricated and pre-assembled system to ensure they perform as intended. In addition to being fabricated in the shop, curtain walls also rely on thermal breaks and other components to ensure that once installed they are able to withstand the elements, no matter how high up in the sky they are. 

One feature that makes Gordon’s Glass the preferred commercial glass company in Logan, Utah is that they have the ability to fabricate and pre-assemble all curtain wall systems in the shop. This cuts down on production time, and cost, saving you both time and money. Additionally, because they are able to fabricate in-shop, there is less room for error and mistakes, as the ones who are fabricating your curtain wall, are the same ones who have been on-site to see the structure in which they will be installed, and can measure on-site to ensure they fit. 

Both storefronts and curtain walls are excellent choices when looking for commercial glass applications. Each is similar yet extremely different when it comes to performance and features. Depending on the application in which you need glass, can determine which system is better for you and your needs. 

Water Management 

As with most exterior components of any type of building, commercial or residential, benign and able to control water and prevent it from entering it critically. This is another area where storefronts and curtain walls are vastly different. One system controls water and the “weeping” of water individuals by each section of glass, whereas the other system does it as a whole system. 

Another reason why storefront systems typically are only one story high and are located on the ground floor is that the entire system works together to manage and control water from entering the building. This is done because the weeping of the storefront happens at the sill. Storefront systems are designed so that the system will direct any amount of water that enters the system toward the vertical mullions. Through the vertical mullion, weeping occurs through the exterior of the building. The one major drawback to this system is that the system can become overloaded and unable to keep up with the amount of water when the amount of water because too excessive. The ability to manage and control water is one of the major reasons why storefronts are limited in height. 

On the other hand, curtain walls are designed where each section of glass works independently from the system as a whole, allowing for each section of glass to allow for weeping. Because each section works independently from the whole, there is no concern for the system becoming overloaded, which enables curtain wall systems to be taller than storefront systems. 


Trying to compare the longevity of curtain wall systems to that of storefronts, is almost like comparing apples to oranges. Because storefronts are located on ground level, they are more susceptible to glass breakage, elements, and other external forces; whereas curtain walls are less likely to break. Even though curtain wall systems are located on higher floors, they are not as vulnerable to harsh climate conditions and have better thermal efficiency than storefronts. 

When comparing the maintenance and upkeep required between the two different systems, it is easy to see that curtain walls have the advantage. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the superior system. 


There are so many variables that play into the cost of each system: material cost, labor costs, location, etc. Because of all the variables, it is nearly impossible to say definitely that one system will for sure be cheaper and more cost-effective than the other. 

Generally speaking, storefronts are going to be cheaper and more budget-friendly than curtain walls. This is due in part to the different products and materials used per preference for entrance and elevations. On the other hand, curtain walls are generally more costly in regard to the material and labor to fabricate and install. Although curtain walls tend to be more expensive, they are still a popular choice in the fact that many architects and designers favor them for their higher level of flexibility in design and performance. 

As was previously mentioned, there are a lot of different variables that go into determining the cost of both a storefront or curtain wall system. For the most accurate information and pricing, contact Gordon’s Glass, the premier commercial glass company in Logan, Utah. With over 50 years of experience, Gordon’s Glass can help you find the right system for your needs, and within your budget. 


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