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What Is A Metal Decking Draft Curtain? Definition, Uses, And Types
Robert Rubio

By: Robert Rubio on September 4th, 2020

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What Is A Metal Decking Draft Curtain? Definition, Uses, And Types

Metal Deck

 If you have never heard of a draft curtain, you are not alone. It isn’t a term that you hear too often, but draft curtains are very commonly installed in large warehouses and big box stores. You may have even seen them when you looked up in a large building. If you’re a subcontractor and find yourself working on warehouses and large commercial buildings, then you need to familiarize yourself with what draft curtains are.

At Western Metal Deck, we have sales reps who have previous experience installing metal draft curtains on projects. When a customer calls in confused because they have a draft curtain included in their scope of work, we’re able to talk them through some of the details.

If you happen to find yourself working on a project that requires you to install the metal draft curtain, this article is for you. We will go over what a metal draft curtain is, how they are constructed, and what panels are commonly used.

What Is A Draft Curtain? And What Is The Purpose?

A draft curtain is a divider that drops down usually directly beneath the roof of a large warehouse or a big box store building. They’re put in place to slow down the spread of smoke from one section of the roof to the next section.

When you have a large open building, trying to limit the damage from a fire can be tricky because smoke travels quickly and can cause excessive damage. Draft curtains are used to slow down the spread of the smoke and funnel it out through roof vents.


Common Metal Panels Used In Metal Draft Curtains

Some common types of metal panels used in draft curtains include the following:

  • ⅞” Deep Type 7/8” Corrugated - this panel is 3’-0” wide with a width coverage of 2’-10”. It is normally available in gauges ranging from 22 Gauge to 26 Gauge.
  • 1 ¼” Deep Type PBR Panel - this panel is 3’-0” wide, with a coverage of 2’-10”. This panel is available in gauges ranging from 22 Gauge to 26 Gauge.
  • 1 ½” Deep Type Western Rib - this panel is 3’-0” wide and has a coverage of 3’-0”. Available in gauges ranging from 22 Gauge to 26 Gauge.
  • 9/16” Deep Type Shallow Vercor - this panel is 3’-0” wide and has a coverage of 3’-0”. Normally available in 22 Gauge, but can also come in 24 and 26 Gauge.
  • 1 5/16” Deep Type Deep Vercor - this panel is 3’-0” wide and has a coverage of 3’-0”. Available in 20 Gauge, but can also be made in 22 Gauge and 24 Gauge.
  • 1 ½” Deep Type B-Deck - this panel is 3’-0” wide and has a coverage of 3’-0”. Available in 16 Gauge to 22 Gauge. Most common gauges used are 20 or 22 Gauge.


How Are Metal Draft Curtains Constructed?

A draft curtain consists of light angle framing hanging from the roof framing. The metal decking or metal siding sheets are fastened to the light angle framing. The sheets hang perpendicular to the roof and are usually between 4 feet and 6 feet long.

The draft curtain creates a fence in both directions on the bottom of the roof. The result is that the roof is divided up into different individual sections.

If a fire occurs and smoke begins spreading to the roof, the spread of the smoke is slowed down because it is contained in the individual sections. The draft curtain cannot prevent a fire, but it can slow down the spread of the smoke and resulting damage.


What Does A Metal Draft Curtain Cost?

When designing a project, cost is always an important factor to consider. Other important factors to consider are: what product might do a better job, last longer, and which panel will look better.

The architect or engineer of record will specify the design of the draft curtains including which panel to use, which gauge to use, and which finish to use as well.

Typically when it comes to a metal draft curtain the look isn’t a huge priority. The metal draft curtains hang down from the roof, which are usually over 30 feet off the ground. In this case, the design of the panels is pretty hard to make out from ground level.

A metal draft curtain doesn’t come prefabricated, so the cost will come down to the cost of the panels and the light angle framing.

A lighter gauge panel such as siding and roofing panel will cost less, since it is coming out of lighter steel. Metal decking panels normally come in heavier gauges, but they are also sturdier.

A roofing panel such as the PBR panel in 26 gauge can cost you anywhere from $1-$2 per square foot. A metal decking panel such as B-deck in 20 Gauge can cost around $3-4 per square foot.

To calculate how much the material will cost, you will need to know or gather a list of materials required. Pricing of panels and angle can vary so you want to get a current cost on your bill of materials.

At Western Metal Deck we stock and supply both metal deck and metal roofing/metal siding. We also carry light gauge angles and fasteners. We can provide you with a free quote for your materials, including cutting your panels to the exact lengths you need them to.

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About Robert Rubio

Robert Rubio is the President of Western Deck & Steel Erection. He has been in the steel construction industry since 1970 and is a Journeyman Local 433 Iron Worker.