Integrated doors provide long-term value

Photo courtesy Western Michigan University

by Jennifer Manning
Specifying and installing doors and hardware has become increasingly complex. Integrated doors have emerged as a popular solution to combat this trend, and make it easier to select and install the correct product for many types of openings.

Integrated doors add considerable value regardless of the building type, with benefits that span industries. These assemblies have been specified and introduced into commercial, healthcare, and education spaces.

In an apples-to-oranges comparison, they appear to have a higher price tag than openings specified with the door and hardware purchased separately. However, these calculations fail to consider installation costs, time savings, and any reworking for code-compliance issues or improperly installed products.

When a traditional door is ordered, the accompanying hardware is not provided, shipped, or installed. The cost for the frame, door, and hardware are separate and will add up overtime, as do the hassles of keeping all the various products organized. Additionally, specifying integrated doors comes with many other advantages.

Ease of installation
One of the primary benefits of integrated doors is they simply make the process much easier, simpler, and less frustrating. If a door is ordered with different parts and functionality already integrated, additional parts are not required. In addition to saving time, this also saves the installers the inconvenience of arriving at the jobsite to find incorrect parts. This causes delays when the parts required are not available at the same time as the door. Integrated doors allow project teams to avoid the worry of various pieces of an opening’s hardware arriving at different times or being misplaced throughout the construction site.

One of the reasons integrated doors may be installed more easily is frames can be included in the order. This not only saves the time and hassle of having to specify frames are for each door, but it also eliminates the possible delays of receiving doors incorrectly sized for the frame.

Doors without properly installed hardware can add costs and delays to a project, while additionally putting building occupants at risk.

When specifying fire doors, the first step is to consider the appropriate fire rating for an opening. These ratings typically range from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on the door’s material structure, such as metal or wood.

An integrated door meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 252, Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, which is a higher standard than NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. The integrated door assembly is not only tested on specifics of the door component, but also as a total unit. This provides a more dependable, accurately fire-tested assembly. Integrated door solutions designed for fire safety include seals applied around the door’s edges to keep smoke out. Another benefit of selecting a door including a seal kit is the onsite personnel will not have to install a metal edge guard in order to contain a fire in a positive-pressure environment.

Some integrated doors also include built-in intumescent substances that swell as a result of heat exposure—this process increases volume while simultaneously decreases density. In the United States, the method in which a door with intumescent is configured and installed is specified and regulated by law. Any reputable vendor offering doors with built-in intumescent will guarantee code compliance, enabling a safety measure.

This recessed exit device provides clear opening widths. Photo courtesy Kaiser Permanente Downey

Regardless of the type of space for which products are being specified—whether hospitals, hotels, or community college classrooms—fire safety is critical. The wrong doors, or even the right doors improperly installed, can be a safety hazard for occupants. Choosing a door with integrated fire-safety functionality not only increases safety, but it also decreases the frustration sure to accompany manually installing door seals and other hardware.

Code compliance
In addition to making an aesthetic statement, doors play a significant role in a building’s overall ability to meet or exceed safety standards, or codes. This is yet another area in which integrated doors are simply a more efficient and less frustrating option.

In addition to fire safety, code issues are important for many reasons and in various settings. For example, the doors specified for hospitals are required to do a lot more than grant or deny light, air, or sound. The openings must be a specific width in order to allow passage for people using wheelchairs or on gurneys. Emergency personnel also rely on these passageways to move large equipment, and count on them being unobstructed.

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