22 Feb Basics of Operable Partitions
Operable partitions, also commonly known as airwalls, are versatile, movable wall systems that are produced by several manufacturers. While they’re known as walls and partitions, they’re actually entire systems that have a variety of components and parts. Across the variety of manufacturers and styles, there can be a massive amount of difference in the design and structure of each partition, even though they’re all basically the same.
The basic premise of these systems are panels that meet together to form a visual and acoustical separation of a space allowing it to be used in different configurations. The panels are almost always hung from track suspended in the ceiling using trolleys that roll on the track. The panels are generally 4 feet long and 3 to 4 inches thick. These sizes can vary depending on the required application as most manufacturers will make custom panels. The panels must seal together and they must also make contact with the floor and the ceiling as well as the walls at the both ends in order to stop sound from passing from one space to another.
The difference comes in the panel design and construction methods. Almost all of the manufacturers use a steel frame as the base of the panel. They fill it with material to capture sound vibrations and then attach a face to both sides of the panel. They attach the trolleys to the top of the panels, attach astragals to the ends of the panels and then finally attach a closure method to the end panels. The very last thing is adhering some sort of aesthetic cover which is chosen by the owner or designer.
The quality of the system will be determined by how well it stops sound passing from one space to another (Sound Transmission Class or STC rating), how easy the panels are to operate and how well the entire system will hold up over time.
In this series of blogs, we will dive into the details of each of these components to identify the differences between each of the materials, methods and designs, and discuss the positives and negatives of each. Stay tuned to learn more, and be sure to contact Specialty Building Services for any repairs and/or maintenance that you may need for your operable walls and partitions in the greater San Antonio and Austin areas.