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Opening Up: Entrances and Framing
By: Donnie Hunter

Exploring Thermally Improved Doors in Today’s Buildings

8:01AM on Wed 27 Jul 2011
It has been just over two months since the introduction of Kawneer’s newest door product, the AA®250/425 Thermal Entrance Door. Introduced to provide an additional solution to meet the increasing requirements of energy codes that are requiring lower and lower u-values, the AA®250/425 is a truly thermally broken product, which still offers Kawneer’s industry leading dual moment corner construction.

AA250 Corner Corner construction
(Click image to enlarge)

Our long-standing approach to thermally improved doors has been our Insulclad® Entrance, which is a clad version of our standard door product.  In essence, this product is not truly thermally broken, but it does add value to the thermal performance over conventional entrance doors.  The new AA®250/425 door, however, achieves its increased thermal characteristics through polyamide struts. The polyamide struts create the thermal break or barrier separating the exterior surface from the interior surface. And while the polyamide struts are certainly not new to the industry, they are still somewhat new to door product offerings. 

AA250-Poly-strut Polyamide
strut used as thermal barrier(Click image to enlarge)

  • Any thoughts on this type of design approach for products that will be touched, operated, or simply put, used on a daily basis? 
  • Does it really matter what the thermal break is, or is the more important issue to have the increased thermal performance or lowered u-values? 
Another new concept within the AA®250/425 is the vertical stile options. Traditionally aluminum storefront entrances have been made available in three width options; narrow (2-1/8”), medium (3-1/2”), and wide (5”).   The AA®250/425 is offered in two stile widths: narrow (2-1/2”) and wide (4-1/4”).
  • What are your thoughts on this change? 
  • Are we locked into an industry that will not accept change?
  • Is breaking with tradition needed to move the industry forward? 
  • Are having more or different choices more desirable or less desirable? 
I could give more information; features-functions-benefits about the AA®250/425 but you can find that on our website. Click here to see more. 
Since we’re on the subject of thermally broken products:
  • How long do you think it will be before thermally broken products become the only option available, 5-10-12 years?  
  • Will there be a coating, such as some type of paint, which might give the thermal characteristics needed? 
  • What about nano-technology, will it offer something in the near future? 
I know I veered off the subject of a newly released product but hopefully this will open your mind to think about our industry in new terms.  I’m certainly not sure where we will be 5/10/12 years down the road relative to commercial glazing but I suspect things will be different and products will not be the same as they are today…what do you think?
Best regards,

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Advancements in Commercial Entrances and Framing

7:04AM on Wed 24 Mar 2010
In my last post I mentioned the increased energy efficiencies of buildings and the security of building and entrance doors.  This time I'll take a quick look at the framing we commonly call storefronts.  The same issues of improved thermal performance and building security are on the minds of architects and owners for all glass areas not just the entrance doors.

We've come a long way in improving thermal performance relative to framing.  We have gone from an aluminum frame with 1/4" glass, to an aluminum frame with 1" insulating glass. From there we moved to an aluminum frame with a polyurethane Pour & Debridge thermal break with 1" insulating glass to an aluminum frame with a polyamide strut thermal break with 1" insulating glass. All these improvements have taken place over the course of approximately 40 plus years.  And, the thing is, we keep trying to improve the performance of the aluminum frame. In most cases, the entire opening is usually controlled by the glass infills as it generally consists of up to 85% of the opening.  With the aluminum framing thermal break technology and high performance glass of today, are we at the limits of what we can expect for overall system thermal performance?  I have an opinion. What’s yours?


Cross section of non-thermal Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 450 framing with 1/4" glass shown at left and thermal Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451T framing shown at right with polyurethane pour and debridge thermal break highlighted in red.

Click image to enlarge >

Storefront framing and security - how do they go together?  Over the years we have gone from aluminum frames with annealed glass to aluminum frames with laminated glass to meet requirements of smash and grab, bullet resistance, hurricane resistance and blast mitigation. All these can be accomplished with the use of aluminum frames and a variation of a laminated glass product.  Even though the details may look similar, a piece of laminated glass structurally siliconed into an aluminum frame; the design and performance varies greatly.  A good hurricane resistant design may not necessarily equal a good blast resistant design, nor does a good bullet resistant design necessarily equal a good blast mitigation design. The bottom line is that aluminum storefront framing systems combined with the correct glazing can equal building security for its occupants.

Now that I've shared a few more thoughts with you, I would like to know what you think. Do you think aluminum framing will continue to meet the challenging needs of building energy efficiencies and security moving forward? What changes do you see coming for future entrance and framing designs?


Donnie Hunter
Product Manager
Storefronts, Entrances and Framing

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Advancements in Commercial Entrances

3:11PM on Wed 03 Mar 2010
Over the last few years there has been an increased emphasis on improving the energy efficiency and thermal performance of a building. As a result, we have seen the development of doors that are truly thermally broken vs. the cladding approach to achieve thermal performance.  In the near future, with the increasing requirements of energy codes, we should expect thermally broken doors to become the norm or standard in the northern climate zones.  However, true thermally broken doors and immediate door frames offer design challenges.  The thermal break itself can make it difficult to install standard hardware without making modifications.  In some cases the hardware would actually short circuit the thermal break. Moving forward, advances in thermal break technology and hardware application are areas of opportunity.

Additionally, the availability and increased use of access hardware is another advancement to entrance systems.  The security of buildings and the occupants has become ever more important. To gain entry, increasing interest and use of hardware such as slimmer automatic operators, availability and style of card readers, key pads, bio-scripts is requested daily.

Combining thermally broken doors with access control hardware is the direction commercial entrances are headed. Over the course of my career I have seen many changes in the design of entrances.  Aesthetically, we have gone from a bulky look, to a sleeker look, to the all glass look, and back to the more bulky look. Functionally, changes have occurred due to the many code requirements such as ADA, hurricane resistance and blast mitigation.  Additionally, hardware options have improved over time. Years ago it seemed there were only one or two manufactures that made quality high-end door hardware, today many companies offer a wider variety of quality hardware lines.

I've shared my thoughts with you. Now let me know what you think. What do you see as the biggest advancements made to commercial entrances? What changes do you see coming for future entrance design?


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