Volume 43, Issue 1 - January 2008

H • a • r • d • w • a • r • e

Handle On Hardware

One-Source Headache 
The Pitfalls of One-Source Shopping for Hardware
by Mary Hester

As I have traveled the country, visiting customers and exhibiting in trade shows, I have had many conversations with architects and glazing contractors about the ongoing dilemma with hardware and aluminum doors. I continue to run into a difference of opinion as to who should supply hardware to the glazing industry for new construction work. It is traditionally supplied by one source—under the 08710 section of the specification, the hardware supplier provides the interior and exterior door hardware, along with the keying system. 

Glazing contractors know their doors close the building in and therefore have to be completed and installed first. Because of this, they need their hardware before the interior doors do. However, the one-source supplier prefers to order all of the hardware at the same time rather than multiple times throughout the process. The architects with whom I have spoken prefer to keep all the hardware coming from the same supplier regardless of the ongoing problems it causes. They feel that when the hardware is coming from one source there is less chance that the brands they have asked for will be changed. 

What Could Go Wrong? 
What are the problems this causes? Talk to any glazier about hardware and you will generally get a groan and a roll of the eyes. Glaziers often don’t know a lot about hardware but they do know that a lot of what they get from the one-source supplier doesn’t fit on their aluminum doors. Aluminum doors and frames have special needs, needs that don’t fall into the same category as wood doors, hollow metals doors and hollow metal frames. Aluminum doors come in different stile widths—2 inches, 3 ½ to 4 inches and 5 inches. Hardware that fits on a wood door or hollow metal door won’t fit on a 2-inch stile aluminum door. Typical mortise locksets or cylindrical locksets cannot be installed on an aluminum door that has a stile less than 5 inches; panic devices must be narrow to be used. Surface closers often need drop plates and blade stop spacers, something that hollow metal doors and wood doors don’t need. And the list goes on. 

Then there is electrified hardware; the exterior doors often carry the bulk of the electrified hardware and access control products. Now you have a situation that causes even more grief for the glazing contractor—coordinating with the security installers and answering the age-old question “Who hooks it up?” Then comes the problem of making sure the hardware has all the electrical components needed to function. When the specification is written, the electrical components are sometimes spread throughout the spec. The hardware may be in 08710, but the power supplies are in the electrical section 26000 and the push buttons are in 08715, the access control section, or even 08711, the automatic operator section. The components must coordinate with the electrified product for the end result to function as the architect intended.

Lost in Translation 
So back to the subject I started with—one-source supplying. As I said, the traditional method of supplying door hardware has fallen into the hands of a contract hardware house. They bid all the hardware for the job, detail the job out, including the keying system, and provide the hardware schedule for approval. Unfortunately, with the common use of aluminum doors in the commercial industry, the lapse in training regarding the special needs of aluminum doors has become obvious. From the architects’ vision to the specification writer’s hardcopy to the hardware supplier’s bid, the translation to hardware that will fit on narrow- and medium-stile doors has been lost. Even through the approval process these details get missed and, when the glazing company receives its pallet of hardware that they are supposed to install and it doesn’t fit, the job is held up while the glazier tries to get the hardware corrected, reordered and then installed. The original hardware usually is not returnable, which causes expenses to rise. The time needed to determine the correct hardware, submit it and gain approval and then wait for the order to come in results in costly delays. The aluminum door manufacturers will hold up the actual door orders if they are waiting for the correct hardware to install on the doors.

What is the solution? Many glazing contractors have taken it upon themselves to work with the architects or the construction managers, as well as the general contractors, to show them that they have hardware sources that can get them the correct hardware in a timely manner. They separate the hardware out of section 08710 that pertains to their doors and submit their bid with the hardware price included. It puts some responsibility on the architect to look over the submittals carefully and make sure that the two hardware packages have the same brands of hardware to avoid issues regarding mix-and-match hardware brands. 

There are sources in the industry that cater to the glazing community and the special needs that aluminum has, making sure that the architect’s vision can become a reality—even if the hardware has to change to meet the specific needs of the door stile. The hardware can be attractive, secure and functional without raising costs and delaying the job—if an additional source is knowledgeable and willing to do what it takes to help the glazing contractors get the hardware for their aluminum doors and get it right the first time. 

Mary Hester is the outside sales manager of JLM Wholesale Inc., a supplier of door hardware and access control products. Ms. Hester’s opinions are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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