The Evolving Doorframe

While doors may get noticed, usually because they’re beautiful or because they don’t work, the doorframe is often unheralded. Yet, college and university facility personnel know that doors and their accompanying frames must withstand heavy use while meeting a variety of requirements.

Through the years, doorframes have evolved from wood-only building components to steel in varying gauges. Quick-fit systems have reduced installation time. Security requirements have affected design. As with any other building product, doorframe manufacturers have changed their products in response to marketplace requirements -- a step that continues today.

Quick-Fit Systems

In the past, installing new doors and frames or replacing older ones required an extensive amount of both labor and expense. Facility staff often had to plane down existing components to make things work. Painting added another step. Fortunately, the introduction of quick-fit systems has made life easier for many facility managers.

“We estimate that the average life of a hotel door, which would have use comparable to a residence hall, is seven years,” states Matt Givens, vice president of sales for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Benchmark. “Doors receive a lot of wear and tear. The introduction of quick-fit systems a little more than 10 years ago has helped facility personnel reduce the installation time required for either new doors or replacement projects. In the last three to four years, we’ve seen a significant increase in their use as customers are challenged to complete projects more efficiently and economically.”

Quick-fit systems may be used with either exterior or interior doors. According to Givens, the doors may be specified in a variety of gauges depending on the institution’s requirements, and they come in a variety of widths and heights. Both double- and single-doors are available from a number of manufacturers.

“Institutional buildings are like many other commercial properties,” Givens says. “Quick-fit systems have a broad application, and there are a number of proven manufacturers, any one of which can help meet installation challenges.”

Quick-fit systems allow facility personnel to eliminate an extensive amount of on-site work. The existing frame is unscrewed from the doorjamb, and the new frame is installed in the existing space.

Givens says that quick-fit systems are especially advantageous for renovation projects. “Facility personnel are often doing rehabilitation work during breaks when fewer students are on campus,” he notes.

“If all interior doors were being replaced in a residence hall, for example, using a quick-fit system would easily cut the installation time in half. Obviously, this can translate to a substantial cost saving, especially if a contractor has to be hired to do the job.”

Rollform Doors/Frames

Another product is the rollform door/ frame system. While rollform components have been produced for many years, they have become readily available and an accepted alternative in the last five to 10 years.

Chicago Metallic, a 100-year-old company based in Chicago, began manufacturing rollform frames one year ago. “We believe that rollform frames have great application advantages for colleges and universities,” states Doug Tierney, Chicago Metallic’s product manager. “From a cost, installation and durability standpoint, rollform frames are an excellent choice.”

Chicago Metallic produces a nine-piece rollform frame (two jambs, a header, and casings to cover mounting hardware) that can be used with 1 3/8-in. or 1 3/4-in. doors. The frames are rollformed from electro-galvanized 18- and 22-gauge steel, and are prefinished in five different colors, which eliminates on-site painting. The frames can be used with varying wall dimensions.

“Rollform frames can be installed by one person in less than 15 minutes,” states Tierney. “Installation time can be reduced substantially, and the frames are also easy to maintain, which reduces time considerations on that side of the equation.”

Tierney offers one word of caution. He recommends that facility personnel always work with a distributor that can handle the total door/frame package. “Door/frame systems are more complicated than they used to be, and there are more choices available,” he explains. “Work with someone who can handle all components -- door, frame and hardware. It’s the best way to ensure that you achieve the optimum solution and the successful integration of all parts.”

Security Considerations

Perhaps the greatest concern regarding doors and frames is security. While materials, finishes and decorative choices have certainly changed through the years, security is and will continue to be a focus for facility personnel when it comes to doors and frames.

According to Dave Sargent, customer liaison for Greensteel Industries in Winnipeg, Manitoba, facility managers continue to voice concerns about security, which has affected both door and doorframe requirements.

“Like other manufacturers, we offer systems that are designed to reduce installation time, such as our expandable frame system. But increasingly, we must consider the integration of security requirements in our doors and frames,” Sargent says. “We’ve gone beyond a simple locking system in many instances, which has obvious implications for both the door and the frame.”

Sargent notes specifically the use of automatic openers. Their use adds to the cost of the door/frame system, but also requires a greater amount of work to ensure that the doors and frames are ready to accept the automatic opener. “The integration between all components requires more interface and a greater understanding of how everything must come together,” he says. “Manufacturers of various components must work together and must provide the appropriate information to all involved facility personnel.”

Automatic openers are only one piece of the puzzle. Magnetic locks, alarms that are built into the door hardware and other security measures are having an effect as well. Card readers, handprint-recognition systems and even optical scanners can further complicate the picture. “While it may seem like a simple statement, doors must lock when they should lock and unlock when they are supposed to be unlocked,” states Sargent. “However, coordinating all the pieces for an installation, and for specific user requirements, is much more complicated today.”

Continuing Evolution

Whether the doors and frames are exterior or interior, decorative or plain, simple or complex, doorframe manufacturers continue to respond to market demands. Advances in materials, security components and ADA requirements, among other issues, cause a continuing evolution in doorframe choices.