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While cost is certainly a factor in specifying doors and hardware, it can't be your only concern. After all, paying a little more now could save you from paying a lot later.
Cost, of course, is a crucial consideration in the specification process as well. When putting together your list of doors and hardware needed for a project, be clear to upper management why components cost what they do and why you need the features they provide. Doors and hardware are often viewed as commodities, so having a supporting argument for paying a little more can help make the case that doing it on the cheap is not the way to go.
That's not to say that you can't save money along the way. As in many other areas of the building, there's always a balance between first cost and life-cycle cost. Paying a little more up front might lead to big savings down the road due to less maintenance and less chance of failure.
"True value engineering is not supposed to be just 'cheaper,'" Drake says. "Most of the time, with doors, frames, and hardware, you get what you pay for in the long run."
In construction or major renovation projects, keeping the specs updated as plans change is also important. If the original use of a space changes, then the doors and hardware might very well need to change. As an example, if a space that is originally a break room is converted to a storage area, there are drastically different demands on the door and hardware.
"Instead of people walking through an opening, you're talking carts, pallet jacks, other things like that," says Lineberger. "The wood door that they had planned on using at that opening, and some fairly common hardware that would be used for a break room door, is now going to be completely inappropriate for a storage room where you've got material and other things moving through the opening."
Little Things Make a Big Difference
When it comes to getting the most out of your doors and hardware, paying attention to the little things can make a big difference. For example, the fasteners and anchors used for the doors and hardware. Most manufacturers provide the proper fasteners and anchors, but you can also buy non-manufacturer items as well.
While it may sometimes be cheaper to buy off-brand fasteners and anchors, Greg Drake, associate director of education and certification, Door and Hardware Institute, says you need to keep in mind that cutting corners can create problems.
"If you're anchoring into a wall for door stops or magnetic holders, or if you're anchoring into the floor for thresholds, if they're an inexpensive anchor, they can move around and cause other damage," Drake says, pointing out that an anchor that's not up to the task could lead to costly damage of walls or floors. In addition, a loose anchor puts more strain on other parts of the door, which leads to more maintenance, repair, or replacement.
One more thing to keep in mind: Regardless of where your anchors or fasteners come from, make sure the people putting them in or replacing them know what to use for the job.
"I've seen panic hardware installed with drywall screws," says Drake.
— Casey Laughman, managing editor
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