Whether you are designing or building a commercial structure, you will need to decide at one point what kind of doors you prefer to use. There are many different sizes, shapes and styles to choose from, but there are 5 basic choices of materials. Wood, aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl and hollow metal. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. So why should you choose steel commercial doors for your building? Let’s take a look at some of the more significant differences and benefits of steel fire rated doors, and you can see for yourself.
Wood – A very aesthetic material. Natural wood grain is hard to duplicate if you want a high end look. Minor scratches and mars can also be easily repaired. Although a wood door is typically warmer to the touch, it can absorb moisture, which can cause the door to warp. It will require regular maintenance, and some the harder woods can get pretty pricey.
Aluminum – Strong and lightweight, aluminum is one of the most durable and recyclable materials on the planet. It makes for a uniform aluminum door fit because it doesn’t contract or expand in changing temperatures as much as other materials. It also resists corrosion and is impervious to moisture. It can be bent and scratched though, and has a relatively short life span compared to other materials because it can’t be easily repaired.
Fiberglass – A low maintenance choice that resists scratches and dents well while providing any desired texture. Unaffected by moisture, there are no concerns about rot or warping. Somewhat more costly than steel, fiberglass doesn’t generally stand up well to fire. It is also very difficult to trim in the event you need to make fitting adjustments.
Vinyl – Vinyl and plastic are only considered here for the sake of diversity. It is easily the least expensive material, and has fairly good insulation properties. However, most plastics release toxic fumes when burned, and many fire agencies are lobbying to have them banned. They typically don’t last long, and are mostly valuable for how cheap they are.
Hollow metal – Sheet metal is very strong, and when wrapped around a polyurethane core, its “hollow” design is very well insulated. Not just for thermal considerations, but for sound transfer as well. Other than a few very expensive specialty doors, the hollow metal door is the only one of all materials considered to have a 3 hour fire rating. Outlasting all others significantly in simulated opening and closing tests, its durability and longevity are unmatched. What repairs do need to be made are usually quick and reasonably inexpensive.
Conclusion – There is obviously a market for all of these choices. Preferences can be influenced by a variety of factors. However, it’s pretty clear that generally speaking, steel commercial doors are the safest, strongest, longest lasting, most cost effective choice for most applications. Just make sure you go with a reputable manufacturer like USA Fire Door.