Case Study: Mahana Condos

A Mission to Build the Brand

Project: Mahana at Kaanapali
Location: Maui, Hawaii
Architect: Fred N. Sutter and Associates
The Project: On the western shores of Maui in the Aloha state of Hawaii, the resort known as Mahana at Kaanapali consists of two hospitality towers, 12 stories each. For short-term stays in this very popular destination, it offers spectacular ocean-front views and luxurious one- and two-bedroom suites.
The Solution: Each of the suites features floor-to-ceiling windows with aluminum framing finished in dark bronze.
They also include open-air entrances consisting of a side stile aluminum door with accompanying framing and sidelite.
Special-Lite SL-15 aluminum monumental doors form all entrances to these suites.
All of the doors and sidelites are finished with a matching dark bronze anodized finish to provide a cohesive appearance.
Glazing is made up of a 1-inch assembly consisting of ¼-inch clear tempered solar reflective glass, a ½-inch dark bronze metal spacer, and a ¼-inch Santa Fe figured tempered glass to give it a broken mirror effect and to create a designer privacy motif.
To meet the need for fire separations throughout the facility while still achieving the intended design appearance, Special-Lite SL-23 FRP doors with stainless steel casing serve as 96 fire doors throughout the property.
Since the FRP is available in a variety of colors, it provided the designers with an ample palette for selections.
In utility settings such as those near waste-collection locations, more robust FRP/aluminum hybrid doors were installed.
The Results: The selection of different types of doors using aluminum, stainless steel, and FRP facing provides a durable solution for different parts of this busy hospitality facility while still meeting the sought-after design and appearance.

Case Study: Mission BBQ

Download the Case Study Here!

A Mission to Build the Brand

In the restaurant market, branding is a critical asset. This is especially true for restaurant chains. Here, building construction is heavily connected to the brand identity, even as local variations are permitted.
For MISSION BBQ (https://mission-bbq.com/), the brand is reflected in their buildings (such as the corrugated metal awnings), in their people (they like to hire vets), and in their practices (such as standing for the national anthem at noon each day). MISSION BBQ, headquartered in Glen Burnie, Maryland, was founded on September 11, 2011. Their message is one of patriotism, service to those who serve or have served, and close relationships with first responders. And, let’s not forget the barbeque!
Each grand opening for a new location includes patriotic fanfare and VIP events. Their branded military vehicle typically makes it these grand openings and has even served as a backdrop for military weddings. They have even christened a military style boat, named Sea Brisket.
As of this writing, MISSION BBQ was in nearly 70 locations in 15 states, all east of the Mississippi. Each ribbon-cutting ceremony also brings out one or both company founders, Bill Krause and Stephen “Newt” Newton.
Another key player in the ribbon cutting ceremony is the distinctive entrance system. No matter how small or how large the location, the entrance system takes on an appearance of wood and the doors always offer the trademark external pulls constructed of black gas pipe mounted at a characteristic angle with elbow ends. If the elbows and tops of the pipe get a little worn through use, well, that simply contributes to the brand image.
Distinctive doors are the silent members of MISSION BBQ grand openings, such as this one in Gambrills, Maryland.
Photo credit: Barney Gomez, Imagetakers

Behind the branding, of course, are serious doors and hardware designed for heavy traffic—another trademark of MISSION BBQ.

For all but a few of the early MISSION BBQ locations, the doors are actually aluminum monumental or stile and rail doors. Here, the Special-Lite SL-15 has been the go-to product. The doors feature full lites of 1” clear Low-E and tempered glass and a powder coated “Wood Expressions” finish.
The doors are paired with Hager Companies hardware including 4500 series rim exit devices with surface vertical rods (often less bottom rods), Roton continuous hinges, 5100 series closers, as well as strikes, and door protection plates.
Mitch Pipgrass, of Mitchell Sales & Associates (http://www.mitchellsales.net/), represents both Hager Companies and Special-Lite in Maryland, Virginia, and the nation’s capital. He brought these two product lines together for MISSION BBQ. “This client, like most others I have worked with, wanted a comprehensive solution to their entrance-related challenges,” Mitch says. He continues: “So I offered them both the functionality and the look they needed. A significant component of that functionality is robustness. They want it to look right, for sure. But they need flawless performance out of the entrance system so they can focus on what really matters—serving their customers.”
Alan Hamm Architects (http://alanhamm.com/), of Kensington, Maryland, is the firm of record for MISSION BBQ. Kevin Lorei is a senior architect with the firm. “We’ve dealt with a variety of buildings for this client,” he explains. “Some are new construction from the ground up while others repurpose existing structures.”
A typical MISSION BBQ location offers 3,500 to 4,200 square feet of floor space. Within the space, a 100+-capacity dining room is the centerpiece and is always decorated in patriotic flare. Another component is a full-service kitchen area with open service line. A separate food preparation and catering area is common in most locations. Outdoor patio dining is available in all new construction locations and for renovated sites when space permits. Average construction time across all projects is about 12 weeks.
Wherever space permits, an outdoor dining patio is created with its own branding characteristics.
Photo credit: Special-Lite, Inc.

The variation of geography and building type can challenge the architect. “Still,” says Kevin Lorei, “we achieve the intended branding through some common elements. Among these are the chosen doors and custom, gas pipe pulls.”

He continues: “Early on, we had been using wood doors but we had challenges with warping and maintenance issues due to the heavy traffic these doors experience. We then discovered the more resilient doors of Special-Lite in an American Cherry wood grain finish that fulfills our initial design intent. They look great and hold up well to the heavy use.”
Speaking of those unique external pulls, Mr. Lorei explains: “From the corrugated metal awnings, to the door color and pulls, and patio construction materials, we sought honest, hard-working materials that reflect the clientele of MISSION BBQ. It a rustic, hands-on image. And the aesthetics of the openings contribute to that image.”
Special-Lite doors on Hager hardware swing wide during opening day festivities in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Photo credit: Barney Gomez, Imagetakers
According to Linda Dotterer, Brand Ambassador for MISSION BBQ, it was the research done by their founders that led to the entire customer experience as well as the decor of their restaurants.
“Before we opened our first restaurant, our founders traveled extensively to barbeque hotspots across the country,” she says. “They sought out the masters of barbeque. Along the way they also noted elements of decor that led to an unpretentious dining experience. In particular, they noted the fusion of metal, wood, and concrete. You see plenty of these elements in our restaurants today.”
“As a chain, Linda continues, “we can’t replicate every feeling of the mom and pop barbeque. But we use these elements to strive for an authentic barbeque experience. You see it in our on-site smoker from Ole Hickory Pits. You see it our metal food trays with food served on butcher block paper. And beyond the gas pipe door pulls, you see that same look in our railings and in our paper towel dispensers!”
Many building products can contribute to the desired brand image of restaurants. Logoed signage may be the most noticeable. However, the entrance system offers numerous ways for the restaurant owner to create the desired customer experience. After all, it can provide choices in material, color, finishes, lites, and hardware to help establish and reinforce the brand.
MISSION BBQ is on a mission to build their brand. For them, the chosen doors are leading the charge.

Image Gallery

SecureLite Product Overview and Installation

In today’s security-minded world, we often find ourselves torn between the need to protect ourselves and the need to feel totally comfortable in our surroundings. These two needs often meet at the entrance or entry door.
Here, there are obvious security measures and door styles which can act as defensive barricades. But we also want to enjoy nature and sunshine with plenty of light. This is where SecureLite comes into play. When paired with security glazing, SecureLite offers a layer of protection while still allowing for spectacular views.
SecureLite has become the go-to product for security glazing and intrusion resistant applications. It offers a ½” or 1” glass bite. This means that it will never permit the glass from being pushed out of the frame or lite kit. It can accommodate glass thicknesses of ¼” to 1”, providing you with choice. And, SecureLite uses a through-bolt design with no visible fasteners, making it ideal for standard lites as well as intrusion resistant lites.
SecureLite is available in standard or optional anodized colors, as well as one of 20 Kynar painted colors. You will always find the finish that compliments the remained of your entrance system or design needs.
We have prepared a short video explaining these and related product features AND providing a field demonstration of an intrusion attempt. You just have to see SecureLite in action. Watch the 2-minute YouTube video here: SecureLite In Action
Installation of SecureLite is straightforward and to make the job even simpler we have created easy-to-follow instructions. You can download the instructions right from our website using this link.
So, when you want the element of protection while still enjoying the light and views of outdoors, choose SecureLite.

New Product Announcement: LiteSpace

Announcing LiteSpace Interior Aluminum Framing

Over the past year we have test marketed a line of interior aluminum framing for glass walls and office fronts. We refer to this line as “LiteSpace.” It complements and provides an alternative to our Omega line.
LiteSpace is characterized by minimal profiles for high glass content. While Omega installs into rough openings, LiteSpace installs into finished openings. Its aluminum profiles are symmetric and subtle, celebrating the glass they serve and the light that passes through. Further information on this product is available on the LiteSpace product page.
We are now releasing LiteSpace outside of our initial target market. We refer to this introduction as a soft rollout because our intent is to serve a limited radius around our manufacturing headquarters so we can properly support the product during its adoption.
Ideal distributors for this product would be currently in this line of business and promoting a competitive product line. They will have on-staff project managers and sales representatives. They will have their own glass and glazing installer on staff or have a contracted relationship with such. All requests for LiteSpace distribution must be approved by Roger Stempky, Special-Lite VP of Sales & Marketing.

CEU Course: “Performance and Durability in Retail and Hospitality Design”

New Educational Resource Available: “Performance and Durability in Retail and Hospitality Design” CEU Course

Special-Lite sponsored this new course, made available through Architectural Record magazine. The course appears in article form in the August 2018 issue and is also available through the online Architectural Record Continuing Education Center. Those seeking credential credits may do so by reviewing the written or online version and then taking the online quiz. You can view the course here.
We also offer two approved AIA/CES courses (1 learning unit credit each) to help professionals maintain their credentials. These are available in lunch-n-learn or other live venues. FRP 101 offers a description of flush doors for commercial and institutional entrances. FRP 401 gets into the science behind FRP doors. Further information is available via https://speciallitechildtheme.ud55wdkp-liquidwebsites.com/training/.

Building the Special in Special-Lite

With a name like “Special-Lite,” we have a certain reputation to uphold.  So, we took stock of what’s special about Special-Lite and came up with a long list of items.  Not surprising, many product-related features appeared on the list as did many process-related components.  
Still, we knew there was a critical element missing—the wonderful people of Special-Lite.  
With a new marketing team in place, we could take a fresh look at our advertising and messages to the world.  And, while a focus on products is needed, we could no longer ignore the people of Special-Lite.
Thus, a new campaign was hatched.  We would talk to people in various departments of the company to discover how they “build the special in Special-Lite.”  In other words, how do their individual contributions help to create world-class products and services. Then, we would talk to people outside of the company to discover how they “see the special in Special-Lite.”  
The results have been revelatory.  For instance, one of our fire door specialists imagines that each door he builds is protecting his daughter in school.  And the campaign appears to be connecting with the various building markets we serve.
You can explore some of the print and digital ads as well as a few related videos below.  And we’re just getting started. So, stay tuned.

VIDEOS


SecureLite Now Available with Muntins

SecureLite has become the go-to product for security glazing and intrusion-resistant applications. This lite kit offers a secure ½” or 1” glass bite, is flexible in terms of glass thicknesses (¼” to 1”), and is appealing visually with no visible fasteners despite its strong through-bolt assembly.
New for SecureLite is the presence of integrated muntins as an option. Now, you can have the security the product offers along with a look that can complement other project openings or that gives the designer some appearance options. These surface-mounted muntins are constructed of extruded aluminum and are applied to both sides of the frame. Once the finishing caps are installed on the frames, the muntins offer a flush and cohesive appearance.
Like the remainder of the SecureLite frame, the muntins may be factory anodized in one of 6 colors, painted in one of 20 Kynar colors, or custom finished to your specifications.
security-lite-muntins
More information is available on the SecureLite product page of the website.

How to Refinish Wood Grain Fiberglass Doors

Why Refinish a Wood Grain FRP Door?

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.

Download PDF instructions:

refinishing-frp-doors

Testing Matters Part 2: Safety and Security

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.

Fire

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
fire-testing-doors
Just after the UL10C test, the fire side of the door pair is exposed. Despite the duration (3 hours) and the temperature (1000°F), the door stopped the spread of fire to the other side because it remained sealed in the opening.
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/).
WH-Door-Label
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.

Intrusion

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.
intrusion-attack-testing-safety-glass
During UL 752 or NIJ 018.01 testing, doors and glazing are subjected to several gunshots of varying caliber.
projectile-intrusion-resistant-glass
Other projectiles are often used to test glazing.

Lite Kits

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.
school-security-glass
Special-Lite in-house intrusion testing.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Testing Matters Part 1

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.

Energy Efficiency

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.
A door can experience heat gain in Summer and heat loss in Winter. Low levels of heat gain or heat loss indicate greater energy efficiency.
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.

Long-term Reliability

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
  • Water infiltration
Thus, testing of doors for these criteria becomes essential for peace of mind.
hurricane-rated-doors-testing
Doors undergoing rigorous windstorm testing are subjected to water infiltration, rapid air pressure changes, and projectile impact.
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.

Sound Control

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.

What’s Next?

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.