Volume 12, Issue 5 - June 2011

feature

Breaking In
Hardware Suppliers Make This Increasingly More Difficult
By Tara Taffera

Homeowners may be split into two categories when it comes to their consumer preferences for doors. Some opt to lock, some do not. But for those that lock, this group oftentimes wants added security. With burglaries occurring every 15.4 seconds across the United States, it is no surprise that homeowners are opting for additional protection.

“We build this shelter around us and then we poke holes in it,” says Jeff Shilakis, president, Hoppe North America.

There are many “holes” in the home into which an intruder can enter. One of these is the patio door. These are available in several types—two of which are the sliding patio door (SPD) and the high-end hinged patio door (HPD).

Sliding in Through the SPD?
“When it comes to sliding patio doors, security is pretty much non-existent,” said one window dealer recently.

Dan Gray, sales and marketing director for Roto Frank America, points out that sliding patio doors, primarily manufactured of vinyl, typically are sold with only a single-point mortise lock. However, there are companies, including Roto, that offer a product that is available in single-, dual-, and quadruple-point mortise lock versions.

Yet, inefficiencies still remain, and Dave Johnson, business unit manager, patio door locks, for Truth Hardware, agrees that the security of sliding patio doors has long been a concern in the industry.

“Due to the design of sliding doors the operable panel needs to have clearance at the top of the frame to allow for installation of the panel and the adjustment of the rollers,” he says. “The rollers are then adjusted to a point to allow for smooth operation and to prevent removal of the panel. The remaining range of movement in the panel makes the door susceptible to manipulation and forced entry.”

The need for greater security drove the evolution of the multi-point locks for sliding doors that we see in the market, he adds.

“Sliding multi-points with more than two lock points provide even greater security for standard sized doors as well as taller doors by spreading the lock points out over a greater distance further limiting the amount of ‘racking or tipping’ that can be done to the active panel,” says Johnson.

Yet while some homeowners are looking for increased security, they may not be looking for it in their sliding patio door locks.

“There is very little demand [but it is growing] among the OEMs for multi-point hardware for SPDs due to a lack of demand from consumers,” says Gray. “Most SPDs are price-sensitive and are installed in keep costs to a minimum.”

But at the same time Gray is witnessing an interesting trend—a retrofit bi-folding door program to replace traditional SPDs.

“There is a fabricator of doors in Texas who is piloting such a program with Home Depot,” he says. “Once consumers catch on to this concept, I believe it will spread and become quite popular with residential remodeling projects.”

Hinged Doors Help
Until then, many consumers looking for extra security are opting for HPDs, which some consider to be higher–grade, premium doors. Many of these are manufactured in wood, and are more likely to be sold to consumers with multi-point hardware and include top and bottom shoot bolts, says Gray.

However, the industry is seeing HPDs (and the multi-point locks that often go with them) move beyond wood.

“Where multi-point locks have been long been popular with wood manufacturers, we are seeing much of the increase coming from vinyl, fiberglass and other manufacturers in both the patio door and entry door segments,” says Shilakis.

“HPDs typically are installed in high-end new homes or remodeling projects,” adds Gray. “Some of the hardware gears are stainless steel to offer superior corrosion performance, but of course the stainless steel comes with a much higher price tag.”

Many are willing to pay that higher premium, according to Shilakis.

“The upper-end market has grown significantly,” he says. “They are a little more conscious of a requirement for additional security.”

Shilakis says whether to add a secondary locking point sometimes boils down to common sense.

“If they [a burglar] has to defeat one point it’s easier. With two points they will have to make more noise. They want to get in and out,” he says.

Educating the homeowner about the options is key.

“The industry is moving from one latch and one deadbolt on the door and taking it to the next step,” says Shilakis.

Johnson agrees.

“For hinged patio doors the standard two-hole bore with latch and deadbolt has been largely replaced by multi-point lock systems on patio doors,” he says. “What we often see is the use of three locking points on 6-foot, 8-inch doors, these lock points often consist of two shoot bolts, tongues, or hooks systems in addition to the dead bolt.”

“Ten years ago people weren’t even aware that these options were available and now more people have seen what suppliers are offering,” says Shilakis.


It’s Not All About Security
While multi-point locks offer increased security, hardware suppliers say this isn’t the only benefit they pass on to the homeowner. Truth Hardware’s Dave Johnson says sometimes energy concerns rate just as high.

“Consumers are just as concerned with the utility company getting to their wallets as they are an intruder in their home, and with today’s energy prices both are equally concerning,” says Johnson.

Hoppe’s Shilakis adds that consumers also look at multiple locking points, whether sliding or swing for a better weatherseal, so as not to waste energy.

Johnson points out that for sliding doors one of the key elements to performance is having proper engagement in the jamb pocket. Having a multi-point lock with adjustable hooks will optimize the engagement with the keeper ensure that the panel remains tightly secured in the pocket, he says.

“For hinged doors, multi-point locks are also the key to thermal performance because you are pulling the door against the weatherstrip in multiple locations,” adds Johnson. “One of the best performing locking points for thermal performance is a tapered hook, when paired with an adjustable strike this combination will give you the best engagement against the weatherstrip.”

“Weatherseals have come a long way, and multi-points have come a long way,” adds Shilakis. “It’s not just a single point anymore. Is it fool-proof? Absolutely not—but it goes a long way toward increased security and saving energy.”


DWM

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