Last Friday I posted a photo of an aluminum frame that had been prepped incorrectly for center pivots and an ASA strike. One of the comments brought up a good point…the mistake may have been caused in part by where/how the hardware was specified. On this particular project, maybe the way the hardware was specified caused the problem, maybe it didn’t, but regardless – specifying and supplying the aluminum door hardware and hardware for all-glass doors has always been a bone of contention in the door and hardware industry.
For a door hardware consultant, there are disadvantages to “taking ownership” of the hardware for aluminum and all-glass doors. There’s a fair amount of coordination required. Some of the hardware may be provided with the door and frame package. The doors or frames may have details of design or construction that will affect the hardware. There’s the question of who is going to provide the hardware, and who is responsible for the installation.
On the other hand, if the aluminum/glass door hardware is included in the hardware specification, it’s easier to maintain continuity between the hardware for all doors on the project – I’ve seen many buildings where hardware from one set of manufacturers was installed on the aluminum storefront doors, and different products were used on the hollow metal and wood doors. This makes maintenance more difficult because there are two sets of products and representatives to deal with. There’s also coordination required for the key system, and the aesthetic inconsistency between interior and exterior doors can be an issue for some buildings.
When I started as a door and hardware distributor in the late 80’s, it was very common for us to supply just the key cylinder, with the aluminum storefront company supplying everything else. Prior to that I worked for a distributor of aluminum doors, frames, and glazing, and we barely gave the hardware a second thought. We were focused on getting the framing and glass configuration just right so it would fit properly in the opening. Doors were either narrow-, medium-, or wide stile, and the aluminum door manufacturer would include the hinges or pivots, deadlock, deadlatch, or panic hardware, and a door closer. The weatherstrip and threshold came as part of the package. When I went to work for the door and hardware distributor, I thought doors were either left-hand or right-hand – I had no idea there were reverse-bevel doors. I know this has changed for some aluminum door companies, but many aluminum door submittals still include very little information about the hardware.
Fast forward to my last few projects as a specwriter – all very complicated jobs like museums, courthouses, and a very high-security data center. On those projects, there were many doors with electrified hardware – both interior and exterior. The buildings were high-profile, where the architects were scrutinizing every detail. There were codes to consider…on several projects there were glass doors used in a smoke partition, which needed to latch upon fire alarm. Some all-glass doors with glass sidelights and transoms (no framing at all) required automatic operators. Most of the doors served Assembly occupancies and required panic hardware. After a lot of coordination between the aluminum/glass door suppliers, architects, end users, security consultants, and me (the hardware specifier), we had hardware specifications that jived with the doors, frames, security plans, functional needs, code requirements, and the hardware on the rest of the project. It wasn’t easy, but the up-front work helped avoid problems later on.