Assessing Keys to Upgrading Door Hardware

While there can be a lot of crossover between door hardware applications, much of the required functionality depends on the type of facility, among other factors.

A wide range of issues can drive the need to upgrade doors and door hardware. From security and safety concerns to energy efficiency; from noise and privacy needs to adding enhanced access features and convenience.

Often the most difficult aspect of an upgrade is in deciding on the mix and priority of features — and where to begin. Let’s delve into some of these fundamental facets to better understand how to successfully execute an upgrade project.

Determine Required Features, Functionality

While there can be a lot of crossover between applications, much of the required functionality depends on the type of facility and the space being addressed. Doors and openings within a healthcare facility, for example, have very different needs than doors for a school or business office. And even within a hospital, there are public access doors concerned with aesthetics, compliance and safety, patient room doors designed for managing privacy and acoustics, and restricted area doorways with strict security and accountability requirements.

A best practice for determining the features and functionality required for an upgrade is to visit industry websites and network with professionals within a specific market or application. The functionality of door systems can be extremely nuanced, but the benefits of specifying a system that addresses the application’s unique needs will bring efficient and effective usability for many years to come.

Know Your Budget

As with most industries, you get what you pay for. With that said, when it comes to door opening upgrades, often the core door structure is viable, and some well-designed, yet affordable upgrades can make all the difference.

Simple upgrades like commercial-grade gasketing or weather stripping and soundproofing can greatly enhance the performance of an opening. Adding deadbolt systems, properly recessed hinging and other affordable steps can enhance security. Shifting to electronic locks and perhaps wireless and mobile access control devices can significantly improve the security and performance of a door, and still maintain cost efficiency.

Electrified exit trim systems, for example, can be used as an electrified exit device in standalone applications, in conjunction with a wall reader, or as part of an integrated access control system. This technology offers excellent performance benefits while greatly reducing energy consumption, where long-term, lower total cost of ownership helps save budgets.

Plethora of Available Options

Mechanical vs. electronic access control (EAC) — There are many options for upgrading a mechanical opening to include access control. Advancements in mechanical locks make it very simple to switch up upgrade to stronger locks that offer new features and functions, which is incredibly helpful for openings that have different needs than originally equipped.

The benefits of the various options must be evaluated by looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the project. Often, the last 10 feet of finish work around the opening is the most expensive part of the installation. To optimize budget, to meet end-user needs and comply with local codes, access control may be scaled from traditional devices to hardwired or wireless devices based on their application and to ease the user’s experience.

An electromagnetic lock or maglock is an excellent option for electrifying high-traffic and high-security openings. Electrified trim is great for applications where reusing the existing mechanical lockset is preferred. More and more applications are utilizing electrified locksets. A quick Internet search or a visit to a local security hardware distributor yields numerous options in various form factors for aluminum, hollow metal or wood door types.

Wireless & mobile access — Due to a sharp increase in product performance and reliability, and with major cost savings as compared to hard-wired systems, a substantial migration toward wireless locks and mobile access solutions is being observed. Offering a new level of installation and use convenience, as well as elevated features for both the users and administrators, wireless and mobile solutions are growing in popularity. 

Sliding doors — There has been a recent rise in the popularity of sliding track and flush wall-mount sliding doors. These are the sliding doors that are side-wall mounted, like barn doors, that slide across and close the front of an opening between internal rooms or spaces. In addition to aesthetics, sliding door solutions take up much less space than traditional swinging doors. In fact, space has become such a premium within floorplans that sliding door solutions are increasingly being deployed within homes, office spaces, hotels, hospitals and much more.

Glass doors — As preferences for natural light and the clean, modern look of glass continues to expand, glass entrances for interior applications are becoming increasingly popular. All-glass openings are beautiful, but they can be difficult to secure. There are low-profile, great looking, surface-mounted hardware designs available today that require no modification to glass, while providing all the benefits of leading access control technology.

David Higginson is Director, Business Development for Sargent and Corbin Russwin.

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