Volume 36, Issue 6,  June 2001

 Enter With Care
Ensuring Smooth completion of Storefront and Entrance ProjectsCOPY OF IMG0002

by Mike Peters

It’s a statement all architects, contractors, glass retailers and manufacturers hate to hear. With the pressure of getting buildings completed and occupied quickly, the risk of failure can be high. But there are many things that can help the project run smoothly. 

For performance as well as aesthetic reasons, storefronts and entrances are vital to the building. They are the first components the public sees when entering the building and one of the last when leaving. So the beauty of the finished product is important. 

There are three areas on which to concentrate to help ensure the owner receives the proper storefront and entrance package: design, manufacturer and installation.
What type of glass should be used? What is the proper framing system? Is the hardware compatible with the framing system? These are important questions that need to be answered early in the project. The entrance must handle the expected flow of traffic, keep the elements outside and keep the building secure. To do this, the hardware must be compatible with the application and with the framing system. In many instances, hardware is supplied by one company, the storefront and entrance prepped by another company and the hardware installed by a third company.

The chance for failure increases when so many suppliers are involved. Although this may sound like common sense, these considerations are sometimes overlooked.

Choosing the proper glass depends on the budget for the project, but it is important to remember that performance of the glass is expected to enhance the project. A wide range of glass can be incorporated into a storefront package. Samples of glass, as well as literature outlining the performance, can be obtained from manufacturers. This should all be presented to and approved by the owner before the project begins.

The finish on the metal should also be taken into consideration. Although anodic coatings are the most common painted finishes offer a broader range of color. A color chip should be approved before proceeding. When using anodic coatings, it is recommended that only one manufacturer work on the project because of color match. Color range to one manufacturer may not be the same to another.

With so many manufacturers available, which one should be used? There are many factors to consider.

Inspect the jobs a manufacturer has completed in your area. During the inspection, pay attention to detail, finish, extrusion tolerances, joinery and other features. Then talk with the manufacturer about that particular job. Ask local reputable glazing contractors and glass retailers about the manufacturers with whom they have worked. It is also helpful to tour the manufacturing facility. Ask if the manufacturer extrudes its own metal, finishes its material, etc. If the answer is yes, this means the manufacturer controls the quality and manufacturing of material for its project and is not dictated by the schedule of others.

Why don’t my doors work, or why do they work too hard? Why is water coming through the system? A variety of problems can arise on the job site, and many factors can affect the installation. 
Following are some things to look for when the product is delivered:
• Make sure the packing list matches the material received;
• Check for damage and note on the shipper sheet. Don’t assume that missing or incorrect material has been reordered. It can be frustrating when material is needed but is not there;
• Store product according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Before installing the product, make sure the opening is square, plumb-level and has the structural capabilities to hold it. Ensure proper clearance between metal and masonry for expansion and shimming for alignment. Do not shoehorn the product into the opening. 

It is preferable that the caulking be done by the erector. A separate caulking contractor may not fully understand the system and may plug weeps, which could cause leaks. 

All manufacturers have installation instructions on how their products work with other products used in a particular storefront and entrance projects. If something is unclear, call for clarification. 

If all of these factors are taken into consideration, problems can be eased on the front end, rather than tackling them once the job is complete. 


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