October 7, 2012

Pivot Front Door

Door Styles
Doors for homes typically come in three styles; flush, paneled (style and rail) or louvered. Flush doors have a completely flat surface and are typically made from wood or fibreglass, while paneled doors are more decorative and as such more expensive.  Louvered doors have horizontal slats that can be opened to allow ventilation while still providing a level of privacy and security. They are more typically seen at the rear of houses in warmer climates where air-flow is a priority.

Tip: The more horizontal surfaces on a door the more cleaning it will required with louvered doors requiring the most.

French doors are simply a set of double doors that typically connect a garden to a home. They are typically glazed and framed in timber, pvc or aluminum.

Doors can either be hinged – which is usually the most durable form of fixing, sliding, bi-fold or pivoted.

Sliding doors can be a great space saver if you don’t have the space for a door swing, but they need a substantially strong structure to hang off and  although there have been great developments in lock technology sliding doors are still considered less secure than hinged doors. They are also more awkward to use than hinged doors, difficult to seal against sound and light and cannot be fire rated. A pocket door is a door that slides back into a wall when in the open position.

Bi-fold doors are becoming more and more popular in Ireland, particular out onto a patio.  The leaf of a bi-fold door is split down the middle and hinged so that when the door is opened the two halves of the leaf fold on top of one another. As with sliding doors the weight of a bi-fold door is borne entirely by the top railing, which must be fitted to a substantially strong wall or frame and as with sliding doors the mechanism is more likely to fail with use than the simpler hinged doors. Also sliding doors can be more awkward to use than hinged doors, difficult to seal against sound and light and cannot be fire rated. Bi-fold Doors also require ‘stacking space’ for the folded door leaf so be sure to allow for this in your design.

Pivot doors (see photo above) look very modern but can be a nightmare for both water ingress and airtightness. Some advise putting a canopy over a pivot door to minimise the risk of rain running down the door sash and finding its way in at the pivot joint. The airtightness issue is harder to solve. On one side of the pivot the door is inward opening, on the other side it is outward opening. Usually these two different door types have different thresholds specifically designed for the purpose of inward or outward opening. The threshold used for a pivot door is a compromise and sometimes only functions with a brush system which is far from airtight. Finally, pivot doors are ideal for oversized openings but not for standard door widths.

Material Choices
In the past doors were typically made of one single material; wood, aluminium or uPVC. In recent times the trend has been towards composite doors made from a variety of materials.

Composite Doors
Some composite doors are composed of two 2mm skins bonded to MDF, polyboard or honeycomb core then sheeted with a decorative material, while others use a fibreglass structure to which a PVC skin is applied. Depending on construction composite doors are said to have better thermal insulation and strength than single material doors and may be less expensive and lighter than if it were made from solid timber. Composite doors can be finished in timber, aluminum or uPVC.

Door Finishes
Timber doors give a warm, elegant timeless look to homes but they require ongoing maintenance such as varnishing or painting.

Doors with an aluminum finish are powder coated to a colour of your choice and are virtually maintenance free. Typically people don’t redecorate aluminum but it is possible with the right paint. Unforunately Ireland currently doesn’t have a facility to recycle aluminum clad doors.

PVC wrapped composite doors offer a very weather-resistant finish in a variety of colours. It is also available in the traditional smooth finish or with a woodgrain foil. Some people love their perpetual look of ‘newness’ while others hate the fact that they don’t soften with age.  Some providers say that their PVC wrapped doors can be painted with car paint.

Tip: Dark coloured PVC can be less stable than paler colours and may fade over time, particularly on a south-facing facade.

Single Material Doors
Solid Timber
Nothing says quality like a solid timber door and although timber requires ongoing maintenance it’s in a league of its own in terms of beauty.

uPVC doors are typically the least expensive external doors. They are low maintenance and come in a variety of colours. The PVC sections of these doors are typically hollow and filled with insulation, this makes the door very light and therefore easier to install, further adding to their cost effectiveness. It’s lightweight nature can make it less secure than other door compositions. Also it may be difficult to install new hardware, like locks, since the brittle vinyl can crack easily and uPVC is also very difficult to repair if it gets damaged. uPVC can be recycled in other countries but Ireland doesn’t current offer this facility.

These were very popular in the 80s and were typically installed with a natural ‘silver’ finish, although nowadays it’s more typical to have them powder coated. It is also more typical for these doors to be fully glazed and as a more lightweight, low-maintenance alternative to wood.

A door set is made up of a door leaf and door frame. A door leaf is either left or right-handed. If a door is hinged on the left and swings away it is called a left-hand door. You will need to specify, either in drawing or writing, which way you want a door to swing.

You can buy door leaves on their own or as part of a pre-hung set in a ready-made frame that just slots into an opening in the wall. Most frames in an existing house are off-square and so it can be less expensive in the long run to buy pre-hung doors to replace both the door and frame than pay a carpenter to adjust new doors to fit the existing off-square frames.

Typically an architrave is fitted over the junction of the door frame and the wall opening. Although not essential the architrave typically matches the style of skirting in a room. Modern door designs frequently dispense with architraves. Not having an architrave to cover up the junction between the door frame and wall opening means the builder and carpenter need to work closely to ensure a snug fit is provided.

Commercial premises need fire-rated doors between certain spaces and Part B of the Technical Guidance document stipulate that private dwellings with 3 floors needs fire rated doors onto the escape route, which is typically the main stairs. Fire rated doors have to be independently tested and have their rating certified by an approved tester.

Choosing a Door Style
When choosing a door consider the following;

  • the style of the house to receive the door
  • the durability required; it is an exterior door for an exposed entrance or is it an internal door for a much-used utility room.
  • the level of insulation required; in general a solid door will allow less heat to escape than a double-glazed door.
  • the level of soundproofing required; in general doors that offer better heat insulation also offer better sound insulation.
  • how secure the door needs to be
  • how much light you need the door to allow through.
  • how much privacy you need the door to provide
  • the style of ironmongery you want. Some ironmongery (door furniture) can cost as much as the door!

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