What to know about operable walls

operable walls

Operable walls, also called movable walls, are popular partitioning options because they can be shifted according to your needs. A typical operable wall is made up of panels or partitions and runs along a track on the ceiling, from which the panels hang. These design features make operable partitions capable of quickly enclosing an area, being partially opened, or fully opened. 

Operable walls are available from many manufacturers and in multiple finishes, including metal, wood, various veneers, recycled materials, and glass.

Types of Partition Walls

Operable walls are distinguished by their finish material, transparency, acoustic ratings, and track system. Some operable partition walls are designed for frequent layout changes, such as those in conference centers that regularly change room size. Other operable wall systems might be moved only twice in their lifetime—when erected and when removed.

operable wall systemsWhen choosing partition walls, consider how you want your space to look. To start, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How much light transmission and visibility is necessary? 
  • Should the panels have a specific acoustic rating? 
  • Will you change the layout often? 

With these answers in mind, you’ll be prepared to shop for operable walls. 

Southwest Solutions stocks several movable walls and related styles, including glass front walls. One popular option is the Trendway re-locatable office wall, which is available in finishes ranging from tempered and decorative glazing to writable glass, veneer, and fabric, with swinging and sliding doors. You can also choose from numerous partition sizes to match the dimensions of your space. 

For an example of what a space built with movable walls can feel like, see this modern bank project.

Benefits of Operable Walls

operable partitionsThe number one reason builders and office owners chose movable walls is flexibility. With an operable wall system, you can change the interior layout of your space in a matter of days. Need to subdivide a large area into private offices? Enlarge a conference room? Create a whiteboard brainstorming space? All of these situations are easily remedied with movable wall solutions. 

Easy Assembly

The assembly process for operable walls is straightforward. A small crew can install the ceiling track and hang the panels in a fraction of the time a traditional drywall crew would take to build a wall. And because the panels are finished, there’s no need to hire painters. This means that although the operable wall system may cost more upfront than the gypsum board, there are substantial cost savings in construction. The greatest financial advantage comes when you later decide to alter your layout—easily accomplished with movable walls. 


One of the strong points of operable walls is their sustainability. They are often made with recycled materials and can themselves be recycled. During their long usable lifespan, operable walls can be relocated if your office moves or placed in storage until they’re needed again. This flexibility means that movable panels will last far longer than drywall construction. 

Design Variety

manual wall partitionsAnother advantage of operable wall systems is the design variety they offer. Finishes include wood, glass, metal, and veneers in many styles, allowing your interior designer to achieve any desired ambiance. The abundant use of glass is a particular benefit, as it allows maximum light transmission and transparency. You can also have the glass frosted for greater privacy. Whatever the style your office designer has in mind, there’s sure to be a movable wall that can achieve the effect. 

Noise Management

Finally, many offices these days are concerned with noise management. Fortunately, acoustic operable wall systems are available that manage sound to precise levels. Systems are rated from 40 to 44 STC, providing a pleasant and distraction-free atmosphere for office work. 

Why Choose Southwest Solutions for Operable Walls?

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for operable wall systems, based on years of experience with office designs of all types. To learn how operable walls can fit into your office space, or to hear advice from an expert on the available options, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.