You probably know your personal history fairly well. (If not, there are probably better things for you to do with your time than read this post!). You may know your country’s history to some extent. Some people really get into the history of war. Perhaps you majored in art history. (Once more, that probably means you have better things to be doing, such as polishing your résumé.
But do you know the history of doors?
Okay, I heard that! So, it’s not the most fascinating journey into history that you can take. But, trust me, it beats the pants off of the history of swine flu.
Okay, so maybe that one falls under the category of fake news. Or, as those of us in the history arena like to say, “It stretches the bounds of historical literacy.”
The true history of doors offers its own surprises. For example, how large was the door on Noah’s Ark? Okay, I really don’t know and even if I did, you probably don’t know your cubits from a yardstick.
But I have used my extensive research skills in uncovering the true history of doors—at least from a historical records perspective.
Take a look and let me know what you think. If you prefer, we could even discuss the swine flu. But I gotta tell ya, it’s a short journey from H1N1 to H2N3.
Momentous Events in Door History
3000 BC: Wooden doors used in Europe.
2000 BC: Stone doors used throughout Asia.
587 BC: Solomon uses Olive wood overlaid with gold for his temple in Jerusalem.
1st Century AD: Roman folding and sliding doors preserved in Pompeii.
1st Century AD: A Greek scholar invents the first automatic door.
5th Century AD: The First foot-sensor-activated automatic door was made in China.
6th – 9th Century AD: Copper and Bronze used on doors in Medieval Europe.
12th – 15th Century AD: Ornate panel and carved wood doors grace the best structures.
1881 AD: The revolving door invented in Germany.
1909 AD: An American chemist invents the world’s first synthetic plastic (polymer).
1932 AD: A researcher at Owens-Illinois creates mass production of glass strands (fiberglass).
1970s AD: Polymer production surpasses the production of steel worldwide.
1981 AD: Special-Lite introduces the world’s first FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) door.
Do you know doors?
You can with this handy pocket Glossary. It measures only 3.5 x 6 inches is a handy reference tool of over 50 pages, nearly 300 definitions, and 40+ illustrations.
Every door, even the resilient doors of Special-Lite, need some periodic care to ensure both functional and appearance standards are met. You know that repainting a hollow metal door and refinishing a wood door require different processes. Most of the Special-Lite FRP doors are similar to the metal door in that, if the finish is looking too worn, a simple repainting will spruce it up.
But wood grain FRP doors, such as our SL-18 and SL-19 models, are yet another matter and their refinishing is similar to that of a wood door. (Although, if you wish, you can simply paint these as well.)
When is Refinishing Needed?
When is refinishing needed? It can vary greatly based on climate and UV exposure. But we generally recommend refinishing every 7 to 10 years for these wood grain FRP doors.
No need to guess about the process or the materials you’ll need, however. We have created easy-to-understand instructions for the process. And, we have put together a short video for the same purpose.
In short order, you’ll be a wood grain refinishing pro.
We’ve examined a few of the product-related criteria that you have in mind for your facilities. In particular, we have looked at the role of properly tested products that can lead to your desired outcomes. We are using doors as examples of products that can be rigorously tested.
While some of your desired outcomes, such as energy efficiency, are quite meaningful, no outcome seems as relevant today as safety and security. In part 2 of this series we will explore the testing of doors as such testing relates to safety and security of occupants.
Let’s approach your desire for safe and secure facilities through the eyes of two potential threats.
Doors play a role in both protecting from and mitigating the effects of fire. All doors can serve as some barrier to the effects of fire and smoke. However, particular types of doors, known as fire doors (also fire-rated doors and fire protection doors), are required by local and regional building codes in particular applications.
These building codes will typically reference NFPA 80. This is the standard for fire doors and windows as developed by the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org). This organization, founded in 1896, is devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. They do so through consensus codes and standards including NFPA 80.
What are the relevant factors for testing of fire doors? Important characteristics are revealed in the common tests applied to such doors. Relevant test specifications include:
NFPA 252, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies
ASTM E84, Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials
UL10C, Standard for Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies
ASTM E84 determines how the door material itself will respond to fire. Specifically, this test measures smoke development and flame spread. Doors are then rated as Class A, B, or C, depending on the amount of smoke developed and the extent of the flame spread.
NFPA 252 and UL 10C are noteworthy because they determine the capability of a door assembly to remain sealed in the opening for a given duration of time, preventing the spread of fire.
Time is always the relevant factor for fire-rated doors. Common time ratings include 20, 30, 45, 60, and 90 minutes. There is a correspondence here to the code-related requirements for egress-related walls. Such egress pathways may carry, for example, a 2-hour fire rating. Meanwhile, the associated fire door may be rated for only 90 minutes. Why?
Fire doors must remain clear of obstruction, whether they are in regular use or used only in emergencies. Meanwhile, corresponding walls may be surrounded by combustibles (furniture, files, fixtures, and more). Thus, they must endure longer fire containment times than the door.
Labeling of fire-rated doors will always state the time for which the door is rated. Such labeling may be issued by UL. However, another fire-rated label is made available by a company called Intertek which issues the popular Warnock Hersey mark (http://www.intertek.com/marks/wh/).
Such labels are typically on the hinge stile or edge of the door. In addition to such discrete labeling, fire doors are always identified as such in signage and will typically include instructions such as “Keep Closed.”
Fire door hardware is also tested and identified as such by small labels.
Once installed, fire doors should be inspected annually for continued compliance to code. While such inspection has been a mandated by standards such as NFPA 80, it has been weakly enforced to date. Newer regulations are tightening these requirements, especially in some vertical markets such as healthcare facilities and by some state agencies.
Inspections should be carried out by credentialed professionals. DHI, an industry association for door and hardware professionals, provides training and a credential known as FDAI (Fire + Egress Door Assembly Inspector) for this purpose.
As the common points of both ingress and egress for buildings, doors also represent the common attack point for an intrusion. Educational institutions today are on the front lines of the war against those who would inflict harm. Hostile acts against students, faculty, and staff include, but are not limited to, active shooter scenarios. Intrusion can also include theft-motivated break-ins and more conventional threats such as physical violence and harassment.
The important criteria for doors is the capability to resist intrusion. Sometimes this comes down to the stark reality of time, in minutes, that the door can hold off the intruder before first responders arrive.
Let’s discuss aspects of the door that contribute to its resistance level.
Glass and Glazing
Traditionally, this aspect of the door has been most vulnerable to intrusion. Today, various types of glazing material create greater resistance to breakage. For example, special laminated glass and polycarbonates have the visual properties of standard, tempered glass but can deter intrusion attempts better. While more costly, these non-standard glazings can withstand considerable attack.
Some test standards apply only to glass or glass-like glazing. Other tests for the door can also be applied to the glass. Two test standards illustrate the extreme security testing for glazing and for entire doors. These are ballistic tests known as UL 752 and NIJ 018.01. (NIJ is the National Institute of Justice.) Doors and glazing are given a corresponding Level rating based on their resistance to compromise from gunshots. Related tests use projectiles such as bricks. Manufacturers often perform their own tests with such instruments as pry bars, sledgehammers, and baseball bats.
A lite kit refers to the framing, glazing material, and hardware required to put glass in a door. The design of the lite kit also contributes to resistance to intrusion. Standard glazing in doors provides for a frame with ¼” “bite” or grip of the glass. Special intrusion-resistant lite kits provide for ½” bite or larger. The bite is important because the glazing material can flex. In the event that the intruder can’t break the glazing sufficiently, he may simply try to push it in, separating the glazing from the frame.
Door & Hardware
The UL 752 and NIJ 018.01 tests mentioned above for glazing have equal applicability to the door assembly. Here, the doors performing the best under test, are constructed with ballistic rated cores, making them bullet resistant to certain levels. Such doors are heavier and more costly than conventional doors but provide a high level of intrusion resistance, even from blasts.
Another test standard important for institutional doors is ASTM F476 for security of swinging doors. All components of the door, including hardware, are typically tested. This test is conducted as a series of impacts from a weighted pendulum to various parts of the door and hardware. The heavy pendulum has variable levels of force settings. ASTM F476 specifies a corresponding Grade for the door assembly with Grade 40 representing the highest grade.
“Lock Don’t Block”
The best of intrusion resistance in doors is of little value if the door is not locked when under threat. Here, we may be tempted to provide even further lock-down measures to the door. But some awareness is in order.
Fire marshals and FDAI consultants will be quick to point out the building codes that require free egress when necessary, such as when a fire breaks out. In light of recent school tragedies, some states are considering amending the codes to permit door barricade devices.
The 2018 International Building Code contains sensitive wording for educational institutions including that they can “be provided with locking arrangements designed to keep intruders from entering the room. . .” Even so, the code requires that the door be capable of being unlocked from the outside with a key or other approved means and that modifications not be made to existing hardware.
Despite that, numerous door barricade devices have emerged in recent months.
DHI, the industry association mentioned earlier, has a foundation known as the Door Security + Safety Foundation. Further, the foundation has launched an initiative known as “lock don’t block” (https://lockdontblock.org/), primarily targeting K-12 schools. Some of their observations can equally apply to the university campus.
The key mantra of the initiative is to “secure your classroom without compromising life safety.” They note that people could be locked in when they need to get out. In fact, recent tragedies have shown us that, in the majority of cases, the threatening intruder is already inside—inside the building and, perhaps, inside a given room. The intruders who carried out school shootings at Virginia Tech, the West Nickel Mines School, and Platte Canyon High School each fashioned a door barricade from existing material in the space.
Barricade devices also require knowledge. Where is the device stored? How is it installed? How is it released? Such knowledge is likely the domain of a chosen few. If the intruder has this knowledge, unauthorized engagement could occur.
Also, consider that threats such as bullying, harassment, or physical violence are much more common than active shooter scenarios. Someone posing these threats would have even greater power to do so if they are barricaded within a given space.
And, because they serve as barricades, these devices can actually prevent or delay access from emergency and first responders.
Finally, note that doors, door hardware, and door glazing undergo extensive product testing, by manufacturers and by third party testing agencies. Yet, no test standards have been developed to address door barricade devices.
We don’t need to limit our discussion to doors to realize the importance of testing building products. Your service providers or on-campus facility professionals should consider it their responsibility to understand the testing requirements of the building products you choose. Doing so will help to ensure that you achieve your desired outcomes, from energy efficiency to the safety and security of your campus.
In the world of building products, performance testing is common. For product manufacturers, it can be a time-consuming and costly process. Why would they choose to undertake it? More importantly, what is the value in such testing to you?
Before we explore these, and related questions, specifically for doors, we need to understand a little more about the testing of building products. It helps to consider this from the perspective of involved parties. Various organizations become involved with sometimes overlapping roles and always within an interrelated model:
An appropriate organization creates a standard of expected performance.
A local, regional, or international authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) accepts the standard and makes it part of their building code
Architectural-Engineering firms design projects, and related 3-part project specifications, while referencing both codes and standards.
Other organizations create test specifications to ensure compliance to the standard.
Independent testing agencies undertake actual product testing per the test specification.
Manufacturers submit their products to the testing agency (likely after reviewing the requirements and performing internal testing to some extent).
So, the product is tested to a test specification to be considered for compliance to a given industry standard and/or related building code. Now, what does this process mean for you? You want products that meet certain criteria. For example, you might be concerned with how well the product will hold up over the test of time. In support of mandated or voluntary sustainability initiatives, you may want products that can save energy costs or contribute to credit achievement in green building rating systems. You certainly want products that provide for the safety and security of your students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Meanwhile, the architectural-engineering community that is assisting you will attempt to translate your desired criteria into a project specification that dictates specific performance characteristics for all products that will be used in the project. They will always consider the building codes. As we have seen, these codes will reference certain standards.
Let’s explore appropriate standards and associated test specifications for doors and entrance systems as they relate to some of your desired outcomes. These standards and subsequent testing primarily apply to exterior doors or entire entrance systems. Indications of quality or compliance by a given manufacturer should also give you confidence in their interior doors.
The definitive performance standard of energy efficiency for commercial and institutional buildings is known as ASHRAE 90.1. ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers. Their 90.1 standard has become an integral part of countless building codes. A portion of the standard deals with the expected energy performance of doors.
One measure of performance is the thermal efficiency of the door. In other words, to what extent does the door exhibit heat loss or heat gain. High levels of heat loss or gain have a direct bearing on the heating or cooling load of the facility. These systems, as you know, are energy intensive. Therefore, a door that exhibits a lower level of heat loss or gain is more energy efficient.
Heat loss or gain is expressed as a U-factor. U-factor is the reciprocal of R-value (insulating value).
ASHRAE 90.1 calls for U-factors that don’t exceed specific levels. The location of your campus matters because the standard establishes U-factors per ASHRAE climate zones. The standard also makes provision for various types of doors such as flush doors or monumental stile and rail doors. The latter would use a good deal of glass.
Finally, the standard references the approved test specification for determining U-factor. This test specification was developed by the National Fenestration Rating Council and is known as NFRC 100. Therefore, you can look for a published U-factor for doors and verify if the manufacturer used the approved test specification. If so, the manufacturer should be able to provide copies of its test results. Even if you don’t wish to deal with these matters directly, your service providers should.
This broad expectation can translate into more specific criteria that relate to door standards. Here, the type of door material is often a factor because various tests are specified depending on the material (hollow metal, wood, fiberglass, aluminum, or composite/hybrid assemblies).
Several organizations establish test specifications in regards to these materials. They consider such factors as the life cycle expectations or endurance, the capability of a material to resist dents, the capability of the material to resist UV fading, and more.
Relevant organizations in this general category include the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials), and the National Wood Window and Door Association (NWWDA), among others.
Due to the variety of possibilities here, it is best to ask for any test results that relate to overall product reliability. Here are a couple of examples:
ANSI A250.4 began as a standard from the Steel Door Institute. Now, as an ANSI standard, it can be applied to any door/frame assembly. The test specification measures the long-term use or endurance of the door assembly in opening/closing cycles. Various criteria describe failures that can occur along the way to a cycle count. This swing test can result in cycle counts of 250,000 (bottom threshold) to over 1,000,000. In fact, some products have achieved cycle counts of several million.
ASTM G154 and G155 are tests designed to measure the fading of materials that occur due to sunlight exposure. G155 is only designed for non-metallic materials so it is appropriate for wood, fiberglass, and FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) doors. Moisture is also introduced in the testing to fully evaluate product weathering.
Extreme Weather Resistance
And speaking of weathering . . . The general term, windstorms, and more specific terms like hurricane-rated, describe testing scenarios that put doors through the effects of weather extremes.
Here, local building codes and local jurisdictions have created standards and test specifications for products, including doors, that are used within their jurisdictions. Because these standards are so high, a product found compliant here will certainly hold up to the rigors of weather elsewhere.
Two jurisdictions are noteworthy: (a) The Florida Building Code, established by the Florida Building Commission, demands a high level of product performance, especially in what it calls its High Velocity Hurricane Zone (Miami-Dade, Broward, and coastal Palm Beach counties). (b) The Texas Department of Insurance has also established similar standards and its own set of tests. These jurisdictions also influence other building codes.
In hurricane and other windstorm-prone regions, three factors influence the performance of exterior doors:
Impact resistance (due to windborne debris)
Air pressure changes
Thus, testing of doors for these criteria becomes essential for peace of mind.
However, there is a note of caution here. Such testing considers specific sizes of doors as well as specific hardware and glazing. Therefore, no blanket statement of compliance can be made for every potential door configuration. And, unless you are using the particular arrangement of door and hardware, the manufacturer cannot legally label the product as compliant to the given standard.
This particular characteristic is equally applicable to exterior and interior doors but will usually be more important for interior doors. You will hear terms such as sound isolation, sound transmission, and acoustical doors used in this context. For sound that is generated on one side of a door, the general goal is to keep sound within that space as much as is reasonably possible and to attenuate it on the other side.
The primary test specification for sound control is known as ASTM E90. It describes how to measure airborne sound transmission loss of building partitions such as walls of all kinds, operable partitions, floor-ceiling assemblies, doors, windows, roofs, panels, and other space-dividing elements.
ASTM E90 is designed as a laboratory test that product manufacturers and testing agencies would use. For field evaluation, such as might be performed by a service provider, ASTM E336 is the appropriate test specification.
The unit of measure is known as Sound Transmission Class (STC). STC is an integer rating of how well the door attenuates airborne sound. The higher the number, the better the sound isolation.
Almost all doors can offer a reasonable STC rating. A good STC rating for a standard door might be in the upper 20s or 30s. When your sound control needs are especially high, you may specify acoustic or sound control doors which are available at higher price points than standard doors. These doors can have STC ratings near 50 or higher.
Hopefully, you have begun to consider some of the performance criteria that might be important for you—in doors or other building products. You will discover that there are, typically, product standards and tests that coincide with your desired criteria. Then, it is a matter of conveying your criteria to service providers and asking them to produce evidence that their proposed products have met some related standard of performance.
In Part 2 of this series, we will examine further criteria related to safety and security. Stay tuned.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with doors. Overwhelmingly, it leans toward love. After all, they serve us by providing convenient ingress and egress. They protect us from such things as the weather or unwanted visitors. They lend us privacy. And many are majestic pieces of art. What’s not to love?
And the true value of doors? Just ask someone who’s survived a zombie outbreak!
But there is a problem with many doors. Or, we could say the problem is in us. What is it? We hate to touch doors. Why? One word: germs. Yes, many of us are germaphobes and the thought of placing our hand where MANY others have placed theirs, is just . . . well . . . uncomfortable. And unsanitary!
In fact, we will put ourselves through all sorts of contortions to avoid touching the door with exposed skin. Or if it has to be skin, such as handles on the pull side, we’ll try to use one or two digits, the outside of our hand, our elbows, our umbrella, or whatever. Round handles are, of course, the worst. There’s no choice but to fully grasp them.
In fact, this reminds me of getting gasoline in my car. Yes, I also hate to touch that fuel pump handle that so many have touched before me. That’s why, for one reason and one reason only, I like winter: I can wear gloves without looking foolish. But I digress.
Those of us in the door trade will go to great lengths to make touching the door easy. We’ll even place push plates on doors that really don’t need them, only to have users touch anywhere but that plate!
Now, I can be relatively happy on the push side of a door. After all, I have a shoulder, my forearm, my hip, or my rear end that I can use to get through such a door. This can, of course, be somewhat dangerous for someone who may be on the other side at the same time! And, yes, the return trip is more problematic.
Some hardware manufacturers have introduced antimicrobial finishes. They may claim to have a lifetime treatment. Now, I’m all for advancing technologies that make life better. But would I trust these handles more than another? Not likely. It just doesn’t make sense to me that the finish on hardware could really mitigate the effects of germs, viruses, bacteria, and fungi along with a host of other nasty things that can cling to the door or its hardware.
No, I would need to see something equivalent to a bug zapper at work to put my full trust into touching the door or its hardware.
So, the next time you are in the mood to observe people entering or leaving through a door, make note of their touching patterns. I’ll be the one reaching high on the push side, up where no one has gone before. (Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.) And, on the pull side, I’ll either be daintily touching the handle with my pinkie or I’ll be the one wearing gloves in 95°F temps.
If you see me in distress, toss me a bottle of hand sanitizer (unopened container preferred).
Our SL-14 and SL-15 are aluminum monumental or stile and rail doors used to create memorable and robust entrances. Whether you choose the standard (SL-14) or wide stile model (SL-15), you have the option to add the SL-484 mid-panel. Why would choose this option? Simply put, do it for the branding potential.
This 12″ wide mid-panel has a closed-cell foam core, two tie-rods for added strength and an aluminum or FRP skin. Further, this skin can be branded with your chosen identity—corporate, collegiate, and more.
For example, consider what Drexel University did with their mid-panels. The university emblem is the dragon. It finds its way onto all identity materials and takes the form of the school mascot, Mario the Magnificent. So, why not put it on the entrance doors as well?
What branding ideas do you have in mind? Share them with us and let’s see how your vision can look on your entrance system.
25 Do’s & Don’ts For Effective Selling at Trade Shows
I’m not sure I’ve ever met a sales professional who really enjoyed working a trade show or related event. But we have to do them. So we might as well learn to do them well. Here’s my list of 25 do’s and 25 don’ts that I have compiled over many years.
get yourself mentally set for a positive, dynamic selling experience. Trade shows are exciting events full of selling opportunities.
get yourself physically fit for standing while you are on duty. Select footwear carefully.
get a good night’s sleep. Leave the late-night partying to others.
get thoroughly briefed on your staff assignment—attire, work schedule, handouts, visiting VIPs, lead management, etc.—well in advance.
rehearse your facts and figures so you can make convincing presentations.
formulate some open-ended, qualifying questions.
practice the art of continuing to probe with qualifying questions. This technique shows genuine interest and is very informative.
ensure that your on-duty wardrobe is in keeping with your booth presentation.
look your best when you step on to the show floor—hair groomed, shoes shined, clothes neatly pressed.
arrive for your duty several minutes ahead of schedule so you don’t create unnecessary worry for your fellow staffers.
stand straight in a relaxed pose with hands clasped or at your side.
project a warm personality by wearing a smile and using non-threatening conversation.
extend a friendly greeting and initiate a good business-like handshake.
be courteous to all visitors, gracefully disengaging from those who are not qualified prospects.
concentrate on good eye contact throughout the qualification process.
listen actively and intently for hidden needs. Let the prospect do most of the talking.
be sincere and honest in your presentation. MOST people can see through inflated claims.
display genuine enthusiasm for your organization, its products, and services.
put all leads and business cards in a secure place with other leads.
keep the booth clean, uncluttered, and well organized.
take a short break after every two hours of booth duty. A stale staffer is an ineffective representative.
be a good neighbor. Make an effort to get to know the staffers in the booths around you and explain your reasons for attending the show. They may send you prospects or be prospects themselves.
take time to walk the show, surveying competition and observing other exhibits and exhibitors.
make mental notes of how your company’s participation could improve and share appropriately.
be on your best behavior throughout. Remember, you and your company are on display 24/7.
come to the show with a negative attitude. Instead, take the view that is a positive change of pace.
expect your exhibit to sell your products or company. Your job is to use the exhibit as a stage for your presentation.
forget your name tag. Pin it on your right lapel or side so it’s easily read while shaking hands.
let anything in your personal appearance, such as extreme wardrobe, distract your audience.
block access to your booth with people or exhibitry.
fold your arms across your chest, put your hands in your pockets or lean or sit on the exhibitry.
act like a robot with no feeling about what you are selling.
fidget, frown, or look impatient, bored, or tired.
eat, drink, chew gum, or comb your hair in the booth.
allow literature, briefcases, coats, sales leads, or business cards to clutter the booth.
be afraid to initiate a discussion. Attendees expect this.
assume anything about the visitor to your booth.
be patronizing to any attendee, regardless of age, gender, race, or any identifying characteristic.
ask general, dead-end questions such as “May I help you?”
disappear from the booth for any reason without explaining your absence to a fellow staffer.
talk too much, especially about yourself or company.
pass out business cards, literature, sample, or novelties (SWAG) without first qualifying prospects.
be tempted to talk at length with poor prospects.
waste the time of good prospects. You’ll make a much better impression by respecting their valuable time.
hesitate to encourage the prospect to compare your products to others at the show. This sort of confidence usually prevails.
forget to close your conversation properly with a qualified prospect by asking a leading question such as “when do you plan to move forward with your purchase?”
miss an opportunity at the end of an important discussion to suggest an exchange of business cards or to swipe their badge to the lead management system.
put leads or business cards in your pocket where they can get misplaced or not shared with team members.
It is sad to think that we live in a time where we need to design entrance solutions for keeping our families and property safe, but we must continually innovate to overcome the threats that present themselves in daily life. Bullet resistant doors or ballistic doors and complete ballistic-rated entrance systems are an important part of this innovation.
(We previously discussed in Part 1 the reason we don’t use the term “bulletproof door” when referring to these products.)
What makes a product bullet resistant? There are several ratings that could describe the level of bullet resistance in a product. The most common are:
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 0108.01
State Department SD-STD-02.01
HP White Laboratories HPW-TP 0500.02
European Standard DIN EN 1063
British Standards Institution BS 5051
Councils of Standards Australia/New Zealand AS/NZ 2343
A certified test lab performs these tests in a controlled environment. The range of weapons varies from handguns to rifles, and the ratings are quite different depending on the standard to which you are testing.
For example, you may hear someone refer to “Level 3”, which has a different meaning depending on which testing standard you are talking about. Level 3, UL 752, calls for a .44 magnum handgun. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level 3 calls for the use of a 7.62mm (.308 Winchester) rifle. So, as you can see, there is a difference.
I have worked on several projects developing bullet resistant doors using a fiberglass pultrusion process. When deciding on a bullet resistant opening solution I strongly recommend exploring the pultruded ballistic door options that are available. Believe it or not, steel is not always the answer to solving these complex entrance problems. When used properly, fiberglass has excellent ballistic properties without the concern of deterioration due to rust or corrosion.
In some cases, such as in government installations, there is a blast requirement for most if not all exterior entrance systems. There are a couple of different approaches to achieve a blast rating for a blast-rated door specification.
Arena Testing- This is obviously the most fun. As you can imagine by the name, this testing occurs outside in a controlled area, by setting off explosives to achieve the desired load and duration. The entrance system is instrumented to record the forces felt during the explosion. The advantage of using an arena test is that you’re not limited to certain dimensions on the product you’re testing. The downside with this method is that it is more difficult to obtain a specific pressure and duration due to the variation in explosive behavior.
Shock Tube- The shock tube is an instrument used to replicate and direct blast waves at a sensor or a model to simulate actual explosions and their effects, usually on a smaller scale. The advantage of using the shock tube is that you can repeat the test more accurately than arena testing. The disadvantage is that the size of the shock tube restricts the size of the specimen.
How do I know what level of protection I needed for an entrance?
To be successful when ordering these types of systems, I strongly recommend that you take the time to understand the science behind the products that will protect you and your customers. Understanding the requirements of your state or local jurisdictions and having all the information ensures that you and your customer have on-time deliveries and products that meet the requirements for the project.
For example, the load results for HVHZ approved systems are calculated in pounds per square foot. With ballistic systems, you need to understand the caliber of bullet that your entrance must withstand in an attack. This information will dictate the level of protection required.
For blast-rated protection, you will need to know the blast load the product (in this case, a blast-rated door) needs to withstand, calculated pounds per square inch (psi), as well as the impulse calculated in pounds per square inch and milliseconds (psi-ms). For intrusion resistance, you need to know the amount of time that you want to hold a perpetrator at bay and if you want laminated glass or polycarbonate glazing.
Billions of dollars in damage occurs in the U.S. annually due to natural events, the majority caused by Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes. Hurricane Andrew caused more than $25B in just Dade County Florida. Hurricane Katrina caused more than $100B in total economic loss. Fueled by this period of destruction, the science behind hurricane-rated products and building structures to withstand these storms has evolved considerably.
What does Hurricane or Storm Resistant Mean?
Let’s begin with looking at hurricane ratings. Most hurricane resistant doors are required to meet at least one of the following standards:
ANSI (American National Standards Institute)
ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)
TAS (Testing Application Standard)
IBC (International Building Code)
IRC (International Residential Code)
Refer to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to determine which one to refer to for your area.
What makes an entrance hurricane rated? Most test protocols will include static loads, cyclic loads, air infiltration, large missile impact, water infiltration and forced entry.
The most stringent of these requirements is an approval in Miami-Dade County. If a product can make it through Miami-Dade’s NOA (Notice of Acceptance) protocol (TAS 201, 202 and 203), we can generally submit it in other states or regions (such as the Florida Building Commission and Texas Department of Insurance) with a high degree of confidence.
Product testing requires a lot of homework to determine how a product will perform under test conditions before sending it to the testing lab. This upfront work reduces the likelihood of a failure during testing. Water infiltration is an excellent example. Water is not your friend in the test lab. One drop of water that infiltrates a test specimen results in a failure. Through many trials and tribulations, we found that all-fiberglass or fiberglass/aluminum doors perform exceptionally well during this type of test. Furthermore, due to their resistance to humidity and salt water, they are great options when considering new or replacement doors in the coastal regions of the U.S.
Hurricane-Rated Special Requirements
Hurricane-rated products come with stricter requirements than some other types of tested and rated products. One important thing to remember is that the size of the product that you intend to sell or install cannot exceed the size of the specimen tested– although it can be smaller. The hardware and seals must be consistent with the configuration the approval states. You can deviate from the approval only with permission from the AHJ. This is why a manufacturer will sell a complete hurricane rated entrance: door, frame, hardware, seal, etc. in exactly the configuration tested.
There is a growing need to create entrances in our schools, businesses, and government facilities that are blast, bullet, intrusion, and storm resistant. It is sad to think that we live in a time where we need to design entrance solutions for keeping our families and property safe, but we must continually innovate to overcome the threats that present themselves in daily life.
Within this growing segment of the industry, we find a new set of labels, terminology, and testing standards. At times these can get quite confusing and misleading. However, they do not need to be if you have a good understanding of a few key terms.
Proof vs. Resistant
Have you ever heard someone say that an object was Something Proof and in reality, it should have been Something Resistant? According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of proof is: “Able to withstand something damaging; resistant.” Ok, that makes sense… until you look up the definition of resistant in the same dictionary. That definition goes something like this: “Opposed to something; wanting to prevent something from happening.” So, proof or resistant, tomato or tomato? They should mean the same thing, not exactly. The “proof” is in the pudding.
Yes, bulletproof sounds more impressive than bullet resistant. Using the term bulletproof is an absolute statement and not an entirely factual statement. At the end of the day, if someone or something wants in, the laws of physics will work against you. If something is big enough, powerful enough, hard enough, wet enough, fast enough– you get the picture– it’s coming in. For this reason, I would rather see the term “resistant” used in all descriptions having anything to do with bullet, blast, intrusion or storm rated entrance systems.
What is Intrusion Resistance?
If you are looking for solutions that would slow down a perpetrator from gaining access to your building, one of the options is to add intrusion resistant glazing to your entrance. The definition of intrusion is; “the act or an instance of intruding; an unwelcome visit.” Intrusion resistant products are also commonly called attack resistant or forced entry resistant.
Intrusion Resistance Testing
There are several test standards used depending on the approval. The most common are ASTM and UL (Underwriters Laboratories), and the U.S. State Department forced entry test. Also, some state correction facilities utilize their own set of standards. Some companies are trying to “update” the current standards that would better represent current conditions.
Depending on the data that you look at, the national average for the police to respond to a 911 call is between 6 and 10 minutes. The goal of an intrusion resistant entrance system is to delay intruders from gaining access until the cavalry arrives. These systems may or may not be bullet resistant but remember the object here is to delay the intruder from gaining access to the facility not to stop a bullet.
Intrusion Resistant Glass and Glazing
There are two innovative variations of intrusion resistant glazing that can be utilized for this requirement.
One option is a patent pending product that slows down intruders up to twelve minutes before gaining access. The laminated glass comes in 5/16″ and 1″ insulated. This glass is a bit more expensive but provides all the benefits of a glass vision lite that an end user may prefer.
The second option is a clear polycarbonate that has a scratch resistant coating. I strongly suggest packing a lunch if you are trying to break through this material. You can literally go after it with a sledgehammer and not break it! This polycarbonate is an inexpensive solution for intrusion resistance.
A Complete Forced-Entry Resistant System
It is important to note that the glazing material is only one aspect of an intrusion resistant system. The doors and vision lite kits used to hold this glazing material are just as important. They must all work as a system to counteract the threat. When selecting intrusion resistant products, it is important that you choose intrusion-resistant doors, frames, glazing, and vision lite kits. Manufacturers typically reinforce vision lite kits with more fasteners and material to allow the system to withstand a threat. I know what you’re thinking: More fasteners? No one is going to buy that! Well, just because there are more fasteners doesn’t mean you have to see them! Some companies have developed ingenious ways of disguising their intrusion resistant glazing kits so to the average person it does not look reinforced.
Read the rest of this blog series to find out why it’s important to direct attention to testing standards when explaining the levels of protection or comparing products!