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Sliding Doors Mean Fewer Problems and Longer Door Lifespan

by Linda Schmid

By Jon Fehr, I Beam Sliding Doors

Worsening Weather Calls For High Quality Doors

Major storms During The summer of 2020 have caused widespread damage across the Midwest. The most vulnerable component on every building is doors. Put your business in a good place with solid components, it’ll help you sleep better. 

As buildings get bigger to accommodate big equipment, it requires larger, heavier doors. Higher-grade, heavier-duty frames and hardware should be used with these big doors. Use of non-engineered, non-wind rated doors are more a risk for your business than they are for your customers; it’s not a risk worth taking. Everything else you use in construction is engineered, why skimp on the most vulnerable part?

Take advantage of high quality components. The door is the only part of the building that’s touched or operated daily; it’s the only part of the entire envelope that must actively work. Quality sells itself for you. It’s your brand written in bold letters on the gables; whether it’s good or bad, everybody will know you built the structure. Even if you had nothing to do with the door, it’s still your brand on the building. 

I Beam Sliding Door components are all ASTM E330 wind test certified. The engineering work has all been done, the plan is set, it’s your product, so take full advantage. 

I Beam uses 6,000-pound capacity trolleys that aren’t over-built. They never come out of adjustment, drag, bind, or break. I Beam Sliding Doors doors come with a lifetime warranty and we’ll carry that warranty through generations —­­ as long as the building stands, so do our components! 

If your method of operation has been to only build the building with a hole in the wall and let the homeowner get the door, that’s not necessarily bad; I was once in that position, too. There’s plenty to do in just building the “box.” But ask yourself: Is that truly the best solution? The garage door industry is growing. Challenge yourself and take advantage of that growth by finishing the building. If you think installing a door is too much trouble, remember: Your name is on the gable above the door even if you had nothing to do with it. 

Sliding Doors versus Sectional

Building with sliding doors
Photo courtesy of I Beam Sliding Doors

Before a door is selected, important questions need to be answered: Does the homeowner want hundreds of moving parts on sectional door versus four on a slider or 14 on a swing out? What is the true cost of ownership and maintenance per door system? Can the door be insulated? Why have sliding doors become somewhat extinct? 

Doors are moving objects that require moving parts. As with any operating device, parts that move are typically the breaking point. Any component that requires many moving parts typically means more investment up front and costs more for lifetime operation. 

For example, a sliding door has two trolleys (two moving part components) per panel. By comparison, a sectional overhead panel with operator can mean hundreds of moving parts, depending on the overall size. Now calculate the cost of ownership over the lifetime of the door. A slider that’s built right will outperform the sectional: A well-built sliding door typically lasts 40 years; a sectional typically lasts 25-30 years. Service costs on sectional doors with all the moving parts can be significant. How long a door lasts and how much maintenance costs all depends on the up-front investment in quality. 

Common Arguments

“Your I Beam Trolley with 6,000# capacity is way over-built!” 

A 16×16 commercial heavy duty 115 mph wind rated sectional overhead door has (18) 350-pound rollers. Simple math tells us that’s 6,300 pounds of rollers. Sectional rollers are active 8% of the door’s lifetime (when the door is open and pressure is against them) versus sliding door rollers that are under pressure 100% of the time. They never get a break! Add wind pressure to a 10-year fatigued, overloaded-from-day-one trolley, and you know what happens: under-built hardware fails. The I Beam Trolley is built to withstand the pressure.

By the way, offset bolts in trolleys are the biggest nuisance when slammed against an obstruction like bird nests and wasp nests. They instantly rotate out of adjustment. The I Beam Ultra Glide trolley does not have an offset bolt; it has an eccentric offset adjustment washer that allows the door to be adjusted in-out and up-down with ease and that’s fastened in place with three screws.

You can’t insulate a sliding door. Why not? The biggest reason no-one insulates a sliding door is because it overloads an already overloaded trolley and track system. Insulation is light but condensation buildup is not. The Ultra Glide trolley system carries the weight effectively. According to the International Door Association, the sectional garage door industry makes an estimated $100 million+ per year in the U.S. alone because garage doors are froze down/shut; I Beam Sliding Doors has yet to make a dollar because of frozen doors.

Sliding doors can’t be sealed. Simply seals will allow a sliding door to seal. Unlike sectional doors, which are fitted inside the opening, a sliding door fits against the outside of the building. When wind pressure blows against the sliding doors, they actually seal tighter. 

Sliding doors are troublesome to install. Go install a double rail big sectional door with openers and then get back to me. Nothing is easy; they are all troublesome if that’s your attitude. 

“Nobody wants sliding doors anymore.” It’s understandable why some people think this. Trying to make industry-standard components work on a failing system on a calm, sunny day is hard enough. Then throw in some storms, wind, and the elements, and the owner faces constantly adjusting trolleys, breaking or buckling light duty frames, stripping out screws in box tubes, or warped wood frame rubbing. Yes, some sliding doors give sliding doors a bad reputation.

In short, it’s your name on the building, even if you had nothing to do with the door. If the door is lousy, it reflects on the building — and the builder. If the door is great, the building is great. Really, it’s that simple. RB

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