Testing: Curtain Walling

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It is fundamental to the assessment of curtain walling that tests for water tightness, air permeability and resistance to wind load are conducted in sequence on the same large test specimen. Where required the sequence may include resistance to seismic shock. The CWCT SSBE allows for a wind sway or other movement check. This may still be requested as part of a project specific test programme.

Other tests on curtain walling may be conducted separately on separate specimens that may be smaller. Impact tests may be carried out on the large test specimen above, or on a separate specimen.

CE Marking to the current Product Standard gives limited advice on the specimen to be used for testing watertighness, resistance to wind load and air permeability. The revised Product Standard will give more detailed advice in an informative annex.

The current Product Standard requires a specimen that contains all of the components and details of the curtain wall, and is mounted in a way that fully loads the components. In practice this will probably require a specimen of more than one storey height and two bays wide.

Following the guidance given in the revised Product Standard requires a specimen two storeys high and six bays wide containing an opening light, a large glazed opening and a movement joint. A drawing of the suggested specimen may be viewed by clicking here. This is the test specimen required by the CWCT SSBE.

Larger specimens may be required for bespoke walls for which project based tests are requested.

When designing a test specimen it is important to bear in mind the way in which results from the test will be applied to walls of similar construction. In particular:

  • Use of profiles and spans to give the largest allowable deflections will allow the economical design of project walls with equivalent deflections. When CE Marking for watertightness the deflections in the project wall should not exceed those in the test specimen.
  • Incorporation of different drainage systems in adjacent zones of the specimen will allow the assessment of both approaches to drainage in a single test.
  • Measurement of air leakage for separate joints will enable calculation of air leakage in wall of different geometry. Failure to record information at this level of detail may mean that when CE Marking the Class of air permeability declared is a lower class than that attained in the test.