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EXTERIORS of buildings
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
BOOKSTORE - EXTERIORS
CAULKS & SEALANTS, EXTERIOR
DOORS, ENERGY EFFICIENCY
EXTERIOR WALL SIDING TRIM & FINISHES
FLASHING MEMBRANES PEEL & STICK
FLASHING SIDING DETAILS
FLASHING WALL DETAILS
FLASHING WINDOW DETAILS
HOUSEWRAP / SHEATHING WRAP
HOUSEWRAP INSTALLATION DETAILS
HOUSEWRAP PRODUCT CHOICES
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
PORCHES & Sunrooms
SOUND CONTROL in buildings
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in buildings
VAPOR BARRIERS, VINYL SIDING
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VINYL SIDING or WINDOW PLASTIC ODORS
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WINDOWS & DOORS
In this article we discuss the frame types for exterior doors and the energy efficiency ratings of exterior doors. We review the proper installation details for windows and doors, and we compare the durability of different window and door materials and types. In this article series we discuss the selection and installation of windows and doors, following best construction and design practices for building lighting and ventilation, with attention to the impact on building heating and cooling costs, indoor air quality, and comfort of occupants.
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See WINDOWS & DOORS our home page for window and door information, and also see WINDOW TYPES - Photo Guide for a photographic guide to window and door types and architectural styles. Ourlinks listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article provide in-depth articles on window and door selection, inspection, installation, problem diagnosis, and repair.
In new construction, most exterior doors are purchased pre hung in a frame complete with adjustable thresholds, sidelites or transoms, and, in some cases, high-tech electronics, such as motion-sensor lighting and keyless ignition systems. The frames come in a variety of materials from basic finger-jointed pine to low-maintenance frames clad in vinyl or aluminum.
The most critical piece of the frame is the sill and threshold. Most today are extruded aluminum, often with a treated wood or composite subsill (Figure 3-24).
Some have built-in channels with weeps to safely drain away water and many have an adjustable sill step, a helpful option since few of today’s doors can be planed or easily adjusted.
When purchasing a complete entry system, make sure that the components all come from the same manufacturer, since many distributors mix and match door slabs from one company with more economical frames, hardware, or glazing systems from another, potentially voiding the warranty should some components fail.
Insulation values for entry doors range from about R-2 for solid wood to about R-5 for a fiberglass or steel door filled with polystyrene foam. Doors with polyurethane foam average about R-8. The values are lower than for a solid slab of foam insulation due to internal blocking and frame materials. In doors with glazing, the numbers drop considerably.
However, because of a door’s relatively small area, conductive heat loss has little effect on annual fuel bills. Thermal breaks are important with steel doors since they help eliminate condensation around the door’s perimeter. Air leakage has the biggest energy impact since it can contribute to condensation, increased fuel bills, and discomfort due to drafts.
Look for air tightness ratings similar to windows, preferably below .10 cfm/sq ft. Equally important as the rating, however, is how the weather stripping holds up over time. Magnetic weather-stripping generally performs well but is only available on steel doors.
Compression bulbs form a tight seal, but some materials lose flexibility in the cold or take on a permanent “compression set.” Silicone and EPDM both resist compression set and stay flexible in the cold. Neoprene and vinyl are less durable and less flexible in the cold.
Another widely used weather-stripping material with a proven track record is Schlegel’s proprietary Q-Lon, a thermoset plastic that outperforms thermoplastics, such as vinyl, TPE, and urethane foam.
Also look for a durable seal at the door bottom.
There are many approaches to sealing at the threshold, including bulbs, sweeps, and interlocks that work in conjunction with the threshold to seal out water and air leakage (Figure 3-25 at left).
One of the most effective approaches is an automatic
sweep that retracts into a dado cut in the bottom of the door
and drops down only when the door is closed. These are
available as retrofits for wood doors and will even work
without a threshold.
-- Adapted and paraphrased, edited, and supplemented, with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential
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