Special-Lite Makes Significant Expansion of Florida and High-Velocity Hurricane Zone Approved Storm Products

DECATUR, MI– Special-Lite, Inc. announced today that they have completed testing and received approvals for an extensive group of commercial doors and building entry products for the most stringent Florida storm standards. Special-Lite’s products have been tested to the most stringent high-velocity hurricane standards (HVHZ) by the Florida Building Code and have been deemed to conform to the requirements of these wind zone requirements within the state of Florida. Special-Lite has maintained a limited product offering for the Florida and coastal storm markets since 2001. Their commitment to testing and research, directed at improving the safety of buildings and occupants within the coastal markets, increased in 2009. This demonstrated commitment was a result of an introduction between Henry L. Upjohn II, CEO of Special-Lite and the UF Wind Engineering program at the University of Florida, which provides full-scale research and is known for replicating the realistic effects of storms on complete building systems. The importance of this level of support was discussed by Mr. Upjohn, “Certainly, our goal is to sell what we feel are the best-engineered door solutions anywhere. Developing our understanding of these high-wind storms and the damage that occurs allows us to grow and improve our products. It advances our belief that there is more that manufacturers of architectural products can do to keep people safe in schools, hospitals and any other types of buildings.” Upjohn went on to say, “Working on such an important project with the University of Florida was important in helping to advance the science and was certainly a project our engineers and I found exciting and interesting.” Special-Lite has a long history of providing highly engineered aluminum and fiberglass doors for the high-cycle and high abuse markets. The company’s history spans over 40 years, with approximately 35 years of serving the educational and institutional markets. Since 1981, with their pioneering effort in the use of Fiberglass Reinforced Polyester (FRP) products, Special-Lite has become an educational and institutional market leader in building entry products. Kevin Hanley, President, and COO of Special-Lite commented, “The whole investment in safety, research and development, testing, product development and ultimately product approvals, allows us to show our continued commitment to being a market leader in the educational and institutional sectors. These sectors continue to be a core market for Special-Lite. Our commitment to providing products that can improve safety is one that we take very seriously.” While Special-Lite remains committed to its educational and institutional sectors, Roger Stempky, Vice President of Sales and Marketing acknowledged the opportunity to enhance growth in other markets with a bevy of new product approvals. “The successful completion of this testing will allow us to continue to grow the vast and increasingly populated coastal markets. Of course, California, Texas, and Florida– which are the three largest states by population– all have regions that have can be subject to these dangerous storms. It is projected by the year 2020 we will have over 134 million residents concentrated along the coastal regions of the United States alone.” Stempky went on to say, “We are excited to have a broad offering of products with Florida’s nationally recognized approvals including our stile and rail, all fiberglass, and well-known FRP Hybrid doors. This offering will allow us to better serve the hospitality, restaurant, retail and multi-family housing markets along with many others.” Special-Lite’s approvals can be found on both the Florida Building Code and Miami-Dade building approval sites, or more information is readily available by contacting the company directly. About Special-Lite, Inc. Special-Lite manufacturers engineered, made to order architectural products, including commercial entrance systems, interior aluminum framing with swing or sliding aluminum framed doors, and FRP restroom partitions. Complete entrance system products are fiberglass or aluminum flush doors with many door face texture options including wood grain, aluminum monumental (stile & rail) doors, fiberglass and aluminum framing. Special-Lite’s products are used in new construction and renovation projects for educational, commercial, institutional, industrial and municipal applications. Founded in 1971, the company pioneered the use of fiberglass reinforced polyester (FRP) material for door skins. Today, Special-Lite is the largest volume producer of commercial FRP doors in the United States. pdf-hurricane-release

PART 2 of 3 – Hurricane and Storm Resistance

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.

Hurricane Testing

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.

More from this series:

Part 1 of 3: Proof vs. Resistant & Forced Entry (Intrusion) Resistance Part 3 of 3: Bullet Resistance, Blast Resistance, and How to Choose Your Level of Protection

Related Articles:

The University of Florida is Set to “Judge” Building Architectural Products and Entry Systems The University of Florida’s Website: Multi-Axis Wind Load Simulator