Form and Function

Patio door hardware suppliers respond to demands for performance and aesthetics
Stacey Freed
April 17, 2014
| Design & Performance

Manufacturers are pushing the hardware side harder for new designs, better performance and a wider choice of finishes,” says Phil King, vice president of Accurate Fasteners, part of Northern Architectural Products, based in Canada. For patio doors, hardware suppliers are responding with multipoint lock options to meet forced entry and energy efficiency requirements; tougher hardware capable of accommodating larger, heavier units; and additional finish options to satisfy discerning customers.

 

Multipoint Locks

 
 
 Similar to the Amesbury-Truth Sentry system, the P3000 multipoint lock system features a deadbolt that operates independently from the other locking points, allowing users to secure the door when unfamiliar with MPL technology.
Code requirements demand doors meet new levels of energy efficiency, resist forced entry and still operate with ease. “[These standards are] pushing [manufacturers] toward higher performance levels for windows and doors,” says Matt Taylor, product manager at Hoppe North America, and a member of AAMA’s Door Hardware Task Group.
 
“This is affecting hardware [as manufacturers look to incorporate] multipoint locks for the first time, particularly in the patio door world, where performance standards focus on energy efficiency and weather sealing. This is where multipoint locks do better,” says Taylor.
 
And while the use of multipoint locks has been trending upwards over the past several years, the market is still growing, says David Johnson, business unit manager for door products at the Amesbury-Truth Business, www.amesbury.com, www.truth.com. “People are really looking for different options as multipoint locks enter the market. They want to be able to put larger escutcheon plates and handles on the door,” he explains. To meet this need, his company provides “good, better, best” offerings such as the Premiere 3000. “The P3000 system is unique in that it has a split gear box. It allows you to change the handle and deadbolt spacing to match a standard two-hole bore spacing.”
 
Roto-Frank, www.rotohardware.com, has responded to the multipoint lock demand with its H600 system for swing patio doors that offers a multitude of lock points that can be fitted into the gear system. The result is “a higher degree of performance and security that customers have been requesting,” says the company’s head of sales and marketing, Dan Gray.
 
Axel Husen, president and CEO of Interlock USA, agrees the “demand for multipoint locks continues to grow rapidly. More stringent codes and higher performance requirements simply necessitate the use of multipoint lock solutions.”
 
Yet, Accurate’s King feels that perhaps there is more interest than actual sales evidence. He says his company is “seeing a much improved level of interest in multipoint entrance systems…but sales of multipoint systems remain much slower [than single-point door locking systems].”
 
In order for the market for multipoint locks to continue to grow, door manufacturers will have to find the right way to meet the “challenge of building a story of how much better it is to have a multipoint door than a singlepoint door,” Taylor says. That may mean focusing on “performance the end user will recognize” in the form of doors equipped with multipoint systems that help provide added security, minimize drafts and offer finishes that will last the lifetime of the product, he explains.
 

Sliding Systems

 
New home designs are driving the use of more sliding door systems, according to John Binger, product manager, door category, for Piedmont Hardware Brands. “With smaller homes and room sizes, swinging doors consume needed living space,” he says. Sliding door systems offer a solution.
 
And as more homeowners look to access their outdoor spaces and incorporate the landscape in their home design, sliding door systems are increasing in size. This trend toward larger, heavier doors has created a need for hardware capable of handling the load, while still allowing for easy operation. “Rollers carry more weight,” King says.
 
“[We’re addressing bigger, taller units] with heavy-duty three-inch rollers,” adds Amesbury-Truth’s Johnson.
 
 
 The Intuition sliding door handle from Interlock USA features a modern handle design that does not extend into the glass area.
Handle sets also need to match strength with the larger, heavier doors. “Customers are looking for ease of operation,” says Interlock’s Husen. “With our Intuition handle, we’ve introduced an innovative design that features a smooth ergonomic One-Motion operation of sliding doors.”
 
As more manufacturers enter the patio door market with lift-and-slide and multi-panel sliding door systems, suppliers are also developing products to meet their unique needs. “[For multi-panel sliding door systems], you have to have operating hardware on the door that fits flush against the surface of the door since panels have to pass each other. You can’t have a handle that protrudes out too far,” Taylor says. “It’s a bit of a technical challenge to fit hardware in a small space.” Hoppe is in the process of launching a “flush sliding door trimset” solution, which should come to market this summer.
 
The Amesbury-Truth Business, too, is in development of “some new flush-mounted handles…that will allow the panels to slide by and stack next to each other,” Johnson says. “We’ve developed new handle designs, the 4084 Series, to respond to that, and we’re making modifications to allow the addition of a key cylinder since a lot of homeowners in the southern climates use these multi-panel slide systems as entrances into their homes. The new designs will be available in the fall.”
 
Tilt-and-slide door systems, which offer dual operation that allows the sash to tilt for secure venting while still functioning as a more traditional sliding door, are “a unique solution and a growing segment in the North American market” as well, says Chris Dimou, president and CEO, Roto Frank of America.
 
“There’s a dual function of the operable sash,” explains Roto-Frank’s Gray. “When you turn the handle 90 degrees, the sash tilts into the home from the top so you have ventilation. If you turn the handle an additional 90 degrees to 180 degrees, the sash will slide open. It’s got ‘van door’ functionality. It’s a unique system because you get a ventilation mode without the sash being open at the bottom. It’s common in Europe but unique to the North American market,” he says.
 

Looks Matter

 
During the recession, cost drove a lot of decisions. Now with the uptick in the economy, aesthetics once again are playing a role in consumers’ choices. “A few years back, price was everything,” King says. “Now, consumers are considering various configurations and finish options. There’s an enhanced value equation.”
 
And while there’s a trend toward the clean look of European styles, American consumers are still buying hardware that fits their home’s aesthetic inside and out, Taylor says. They want door hardware to match all the finishes throughout their homes—in appliances, faucets and lighting fixtures. The most popular hardware finishes seem to be brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, King says, adding that consumers are also asking about satin finishes, antiques, mattes and blackened finishes. “The old polished brass is gone.”
 
Johnson agrees these are the most popular finishes but adds that more manufacturers are requesting physical vapor deposition finishes as well that can protect hardware from environmental factors such as salty air and ultraviolet light. “We test our PVD finishes to 1000 hours and they perform very well. You’re essentially getting the same performance as stainless steel,” he says.
 
As for handles, “Folks are interested in contemporary designs,” Johnson says. “On the patio door side there’s been so many ‘C-‘ or ‘D-shaped’ handles for a long time. They’ve become a little tired looking. We introduced our Allure handle set and our Signature handle set, and they’ve been very popular. New, aesthetically pleasing designs excite the market, and our objective is to continue to rejuvenate our portfolio.”

 

Freed is editor of Window & Door. Write her at sfreed@glass.org