Doors & Windows


    One may have worked at home improvements stores for quite some time or may have been taking related courses at college. One may have been working at construction sites every now and then or working along contractors doing renovations whenever needed but home improvement is a topic that has endless possibilities and hence to be an expert on all fronts is next to impossible. One can either be a jack of all trades or a master of one! Doors and windows is one such topic that might be worth considering for extensive research. After all, most of the time the job is a one time gig with little maintenance other than garage doors.

   Doors whether front or back are not only for aesthetics but they are also a key aspect to security. Doors often left unlocked lead to home burglaries, house break-ins and even lead to casualties in extreme crime cases. One of the major expense for homeowners is a finished basement. Though, doors are the least of all worries, they too are a piece of work. Many times openings are to be made through the concrete walls which require tools and experience. A few wrong measurements is all it takes to mess up the entire passageway or stairs area leading down to the basement. A larger opening than the size of the door leads to an expensive fix. Not to mention, the time that area of the house is left exposed as work prolongs. The door opening must be large enough to move in furniture, mattress and appliances. Their patterns of movements should also create “between and within spaces appropriate to uses and activities housed by the spaces (1). They should have “watertight seals and maintain thermal insulation of the exterior walls they penetrate (1). A door frame is a key to maintaining the appearance of the doorway. The threshold or the sill of the doorway should provide further weather protection. There are also minimum maneuvering clearances at doorways for wheelchair accessibility.  The type of door is also important as it is constantly being exposed to weather elements like snow and mud in the passageway. Unlike a front door of the house, the basement door usually does not have a porch or a patio. Even though, there are building code requirements even for basement doors in terms of “fire resistance, emergency egress and safety glazing (1). Fire door assemblies include fire resistive door, door frame and hardware. Door frames “must be grouted with mortar or plaster for structural rigidity and increased fire resistance” (1). The front door of the house is the one that needs to aesthetically pleasing as well as suit the wall or paint color. Door designs include panel doors and panel doors with sash. The most convenient type of entry door is the door with swinging operation. These doors “turn on hinges about a side jamb when pushed or pulled”(1). They also need space around the doorway for door swing with minimum check clearance. These doors are also fitted in with thermal and acoustic insulation for weather resistance and maybe fire rated. The hardware for these doors is another topic for extensive research. Though most hardware is easy to operate, there are times when key changes are needed as the door locks rust over period of time. The “mortise locks” of these entry doors are housed in an opening in the door edge which makes locks available on both sides. The lock is also “concealed except faceplate at the door edge, knobs or levers, a cylinder and an operating trim” (1) Doors usually have peepholes with chain brackets as a security measure. They also have a door stopper in the bottom corner of the wall to avoid damage caused by the swing of the door. Should there be a door knocker on the door as is the case in most residential condo doors, it must be properly examined before installation in terms of the damage it might cause in the future. Next, there are doors with a hydraulic or pneumatic device especially the ones linking garages to passageways. These hydraulic door openers may also be custom fitted in to any interior doors to reduce the shock to the frame from door slams as a result of violent wind.  Building codes require the use of self-latching, self-closing doors with UL rated hardware to protect openings in firewalls and occupancy separations. Interior doors without self-latching or self-closing features like a bedroom door may have a door stopper on the other side of the door. Closet doors are usually additional features that are installed during renovations that might include replacing tiles for kitchen floor or hardwood /laminate flooring for living and bedroom. Then, there are patio doors that slide along a track on the floor. They do not need any operating space but could be a challenge in sealing against weather and sound. Since, they usually lead to a snow-filled patio or deck the wheels that slide along the track are prone to corrosion. These are usually sliding doors in the kitchen and may require some maintenance from time to time. “Weatherstripping is often supplied and installed by manufacturers. These weatherstripping must be “durable for extensive use, non-corrosive and replaceable“. The closers for the glass sliding doors must be “concealed within the floor construction” (1). Then there are shed doors. These doors are usually frozen in time in terms of design and construction. These doors, either panel doors or panel with sash doors should be waterproof with non-corrosive hardware. If garden gates are also doors, they must be designed with wind resistance in mind. Overall, doors play a key role in aesthetics, security, functionality as well as real estate value.

   Windows are also a key aspect of home design and improvement. Living rooms and bedroom windows are usually similar in construction and design. A rough masonry opening is made with space at the top of leveling and shimming of the window opening. Then, there is a casing trim around the window opening to be fitted in with “head and jamb casings, window sills and aprons”.(1) The head is the uppermost member of the window frame while jamb on the two sides of the frame. Next, are the sills and sub sills to shed rainwater. Also, there is exterior casing with drip cap or head casing. An insect screen may be installed as per requirement. The building code requirements for window construction and installation are “Natural light and ventilation, Thermal insulation of window assembly, structural resistance to wind loads” (1), clear opening or emergency exits for windows, safety glazing as well as type and size of glazing in fire rated walls and corridors. A visit to window manufacturing facility may reveal design process that includes trimming and leveling of window frames as well as the procedure of fitting glass inside the frame. Hardware such as casement handles and accessories are also pre -installed in a manufacturing facility. Since the casement handle and accessories are most exposed to weather elements, they must be made corrosion proof.  Blind and curtain installations on new and existing windows are also an essential part of home improvement. They not only improve the aesthetics of the room but provide privacy as well as block sunlight. Overall, windows are also a key aspect of home design and improvement.

   In conclusion, doors and windows are a key component of home improvement that affects real estate value among other factors.

(1) – Francis D.K. Ching. “Building Construction Illustrated”. 2014. Published by Wiley.

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