Special thanks to Marc Heimerl, a Contract Small Projects Specialist in Green Bay, and Mike Morse, a Building Products Consultant in Madison, for their help on this article. Please reference our Door, Frame, and Hardware Glossary for any unfamiliar terms.
Contractors (New Construction Projects)
What is your standard door height?
Commercial projects typically have a 7’0’’ door height, but sometimes LaForce sees 6’8’’ doors specified. Residential doors tend to be 6’8’’. Some contractors handle both commercial and residential projects, so it’s important to clarify which door height they prefer for their particular projects. This also affects the frames we will supply. Hollow metal frames typically have a 2’’ face and head width; however, welded frames for a 7’0’’ door going into a masonry wall often require a 4’’ head width to line up with block lines.
How does your jamb depth relate to my wall thickness?
“Jamb depth” refers to the overall width of a frame profile. Typically, the total jamb depth is about 1’’ wider than the throat of the frame (which is equivalent to the wall thickness). It’s important that we know the actual thickness of the wall so that the frame’s jamb depth is correct.
Do you know the building’s standard hardware so the quoted material matches?
LaForce can look to previous work we’ve done; however, we do not have records for every building, so it’s important to provide as much information as possible. This helps to start a dialogue with the customer to make sure we include what they need. Detailed photos of existing hardware to match, including close-ups of manufacturer stamps, are always appreciated when specific model information is not known. Sometimes the building owner can even provide information based upon previous orders.
Building Owners / Maintenance (Retrofit Projects)
What are your suggestions for solving my specific retrofit problem?
Occasionally we receive inquiries that should not be supplied and installed as requested. This is where LaForce can help educate the owner by asking: What are you trying to achieve at this door opening? Usually, the owner has a specific goal in mind, but they just aren’t that familiar with common industry-standard strategies for addressing their application requirements. No problem – this is what LaForce does! Not every owner needs to be an expert. In commercial construction, with egress codes and ADA guidelines, we can provide solutions that comply with building codes while providing security and ease of use.
What would you do if this were your facility?
We often receive requests from well-intentioned building owners for cost-conscious solutions, workarounds, and repairs. But don’t be afraid to ask our opinion about a project – we won’t steer you down a complicated or unnecessarily path. Mike Morse, a Building Products Consultant in Madison, says: “I wish more people would just ask me what I would do, if it were my building. It’s a good question! There are times where the easy answer is “you need a commercial door replacement.” But there are other times where being realistic means finding different solutions with what you have.”
Churches, hospitals, apartments, restaurants, and schools all have different goals, budgets, and standards of everyday care and operation. The heavy steel door, rugged hardware, and high abuse we expect to see in a public restroom in a subway station is very different from the material we would supply to a downtown multi-use high rise. If cost or aesthetics are a concern, we carry a wide variety of products.
What else am I missing? Is there anything else I need to do on my end?
Today’s buildings are like complex machines. A door isn’t just a door: It could have an automatic door opener, building access control, and a surveillance camera system. Most projects require coordination. Again, Mike Morse: “If I’m supplying a door prepped for electrified hardware, I’m having a discussion with the building owner to ensure that we’re working out a plan for the details and coordination that goes along with that type of hardware. Are there any anticipated repairs or other work that should be scheduled at the same time?”
Good coordination and planning as a team can be the difference between a smooth-running, quick and easy project, and an over-budget, slow-going mess. Let’s talk it out up front; it pays to be efficient. If we work together, we work better.