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Doors: Rolling, Bifold and Walkthrough

Roundtable on Exterior Doors

1. How can exterior doors enhance a building aesthetically? What might architects consider when evaluating the importance of doors on a given project?


Schweiss, Owner, Schweiss Doors, Fairfax, Minn., We truly custom manufacture each door as a custom door. We design around the customers' needs and how they envision their door to blend in with the rest of the building structure, making the door and building seamless, adding beauty to the building structure, yet making the doors very functional.


Burnham, Vice President of Sales, Hörmann Flexon LLC, Leetsdale, Pa., High-performance doors, specifically, can aesthetically enhance a building. The new generation of high-performance security doors with aluminum slats and/or the galvanized steel slats are available in many color choices, as well as with varying amounts of vision area, that easily coordinates with any building color scheme and safety requirement. Architects will look at the appearance of the door, along with its speed and potential operating/maintenance cost. Using high performance security doors will allow for energy savings, security and longevity.


Parker, President, Hydroswing Inc., Cottonwood, Minn., When a door is chosen for a structure it is a mixture of form versus function, and for many years there has been conflict in this ratio. [Architects have now been enabled] to have form where they used to have to compromise function and they can now have function where they used to compromise form. It has been incredible to unleash the architectural minds upon our product,seeing our doors' increasing size, trading out wall space for moveable door real estate, seeing doors completely disguised so no one even knows a door exists. Not to mention the ability to lift huge expanses of glass, and what once would have been wall, at the touch of a button.


Landgraff, Technical Sales Manager, Door Engineering and Manufacturing LLC, Kasota, Minn., The exterior doors on a building act as the first point of entry for visitors, employees,vehicles or machinery, and are often where the first impression of the company is formed. It's important the doors reflect the company and complement the building and its surroundings aesthetically. Architects should consider where these doors are located on the building and who/what will be using the doors. With today's technology, doors can be glazed, clad with many materials and powder coated a variety of custom and standard colors. An architect's desired look can always be accomplished by working with the manufacturer and its designers.

2. Are there new trends or innovations in the exterior door industry to be aware of right now or for the future?

Schweiss: Schweiss is on the cutting edge of custom designer doors, our customers' are demanding something different to make their building stand out, unique to say the least. Schweiss has been doing a great job of carrying out the customers dreams and providing a door that is functional in every which way. In the door business you must have a product that stands out or you will be left out. We understand and are very aware the door industry wants more and Schweiss' goal is to custom design a door that is superior and very custom, "one of a kind," a door that you cannot buy off the shelf.

Burnham: A new style of exterior, high-performance door will be introduced by Hörmann Flexon this year. The Speed-Guardian 4000 U high-speed security door, with an opening speed of up to 120inches (3,048 mm) per second, has an insulated 10-inch (254-mm) foam-in-place panel with an R-Value of 12.4. The superior insulating quality, along with the fast opening speed, promotes energy savings. Many companies are looking for doors that help them save energy and provide sustainability.

Parker: There is definitely a visible progression in perception, which allows for increased innovation by the end user. Architects are able to design a building which does not have to be aesthetically compromised by the door system and that door system's limitations, especially when we look at doors over 15 feet (5 m) wide. The one-piece Hydraulic door system is literally open season for the architect to consider the door his real estate for uninterrupted visual and structural harmony. For Hydroswing specifically, we are using better and more advanced materials which allow for increased efficiencies in production, allowing better pricing.

Landgraff: With trends and technology evolving daily in the industrial, commercial and aviation door markets, Door Engineering and Manufacturing is always conducting research and design to meet clients' needs. Solar-powered technology, as well as fenestration security/monitoring systems, are just two examples of progressive products to watch for in the future.

3. What can doors add to a facility in terms of sustainability (insulation, water/air leakage, fire protection, etc.)?

Schweiss: Schweiss manufactures a robust door,loading it up with any type of building products to blend in with the building structure. The components Schweiss uses on their doors [are] truly industrial, but have a look pleasing to the eye when Schweiss finishes the completed door project, that will make your building one of a kind. Schweiss Doors seal extremely tight against all weather conditions, it looks like a moving wall that forms a canopy when in the open position.

Parker: We seal and reduce heat bleed or the reverse in cooled buildings. Where height of building is critical for cost reduction, use criteria or other reasons we can deliver almost 100 percent of the buildings clear opening if required, not to mention, what a fabulous sunshade when in the open position. Sustainability with reduced building costs, heating/cooling bills and reduced consumption and a very long life cycle drives our thinking and development going forward. We not only add strength to the structures we are installed within, we [conduct] Finite Element Analysis [on] all our products for maximum building/door harmony and strength over time. We have a full team of in-house engineers with a growing special projects R&D department.We will be launching a brand new product in the fall of 2010 that combines roof/door and power, all in one opening structure. I dare not think what the architects will see in this product which we cannot, not to mention the reduced height, wastage and increased building efficiency where roof and door are combined as a single piece.

Landgraff: Door systems are available in a variety of insulation thicknesses and weather-seal options to reduce air-flow and increase energy efficiency. Sliding fire-rated door systems offer fire protection for a variety of small and large openings. Automated operating systems as well as door monitoring systems can ensure door systems will be closed when they are not in use to minimize heating and cooling losses.

4. How is the exterior door market doing generally? Do architects sometimes try to cut costs with doors? Can that lead to potential problems down the road?

Schweiss: Exterior door markets have been hot for the Schweiss door team. Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter doors. The architects who are looking for the easy way out are losing ground. Today, customers want a unique door, something different and functional.

Burnham: As in every industry, current times are slower than desired. Architects will look at reducing costs by specifying typical rolling and sectional doors even for use in areas where there will be a lot of traffic and cycling of the door. However, in high use, high traffic areas, typical rolling and sectional doors have a life cycle of 100,000 cycles, with the opening speeds of 8 to 10 inches (203 to 254 mm) per second, then maintenance and costly repairs are required. High performance doors are designed for high-cycle applications and have a 1 million cycle life plus faster opening speeds of 80 inches (2,032 mm) per second.

Parker: Hydroswing's growing market share of the large door market has seen us advancing on markets which have previously been over supplied with outdated products and thus we have experienced growth even during these challenging times. As architects, builders and customers have become careful with money and funding, product value, not just price, is driving new markets and existing customers in their choice. Hydroswing's whole business model is built on the delivery of the most modern and efficient systems possible,replacing the old and unsustainable "contraptions" previously available, with high efficiency, best value and best performance, eliminating in-life costs and issues for the end user.

Landgraff: The industrial, commercial and aviation door market has managed to remain relatively solid in the midst of the country's economic hardships. There are always a handful of architects who will look to inexpensive door alternatives in an attempt to cut costs but these systems often require costly maintenance and repairs in the future. Most architects rely on door quality when determining which product to use. Quality door systems may be more expensive initially, but because of the low maintenance requirements an heavy-duty design and construction they will be morecost effective in the future.

5. What is the best way to make sure you're getting a quality door that is right for a given project?

Schweiss: It's all about offering choices. Schweiss manufactures two styles of doors, both very different,yet alike. Both doors are used to enhance your building project, to add value and a sense of uniqueness to the entire project. Since we custom manufacture each door to fit the project, Schweiss is full of ideas when it comes to custom doors, and quality is foremost since each door has my name on it.

Burnham: Do your homework in speaking with the manufacturer's sales team, as they are experts and can recommend the right door based upon the specific application. Also, try to anticipate the volume and types of traffic that will be moving through the door opening once the building is in operation. If the door will be cycled several times an hour, a high-speed, high-performance door is a smart choice.

Landgraff: Research, research, research. Meeting directly with the manufacturer is a great way to determine which door system is right for your project. At Door Engineering, we enjoy meeting with owners and design professionals to show them around our plant, take them to view some of our installed door systems as well as answer any questions. The manufacturer's Web site is a great tool for research. References, existing client lists, testimonials and case studies are available online. AIA/CES programs can also be an avenue to learn about the variety of door systems available, and features and benefits of each, while earning continuing education credits.