Commercial entrances are not made to withstand a hurricane. Historically, the months of August and September are typically the most active during the hurricane season. In 2021, Hurricane Elsa was one of the earliest hurricanes to form in the Caribbean Sea, causing more than $290 million in damage across the country.
Most architects and commercial building owners across Southeastern Florida, especially in Miami-Dade County, understand the importance of selecting robust commercial hurricane doors to protect their businesses and property. Instead of sticking with the conventional “builders’ standard” entrance doors, many commercial business owners now opt for commercial hurricane entry doors that are durable and able to withstand strong winds and impact.
Standard door frames, which are not engineered to hurricane force winds, are unable to properly perform during a hurricane. However, hurricane rated and approved commercial doors are incredibly strong and can resist high winds and the impact of flying debris. However, not all hurricane doors are created equal.
If architects do not carry out proper due diligence and don’t do their homework when selecting impact doors for a commercial building, it could eventually lead to several issues. The last thing you want is a breach during a hurricane, which could wreak havoc on your commercial premises. Once an opening is made, there’s no knowing just how much damage a hurricane can cause indoors.
Commercial building owners in hurricane prone areas need to be particularly careful when selecting impact entry doors. If you are in the Sunshine State, it’s imperative that you research not only the product but the company behind the product before deciding about which impact door to buy.
Top 5 Things Every Architect & Owner Should Know about Commercial Impact-Resistant Doors
1) Does the Impact Door Have a Current NOA (Notice of Acceptance)?
The Notice of Acceptance (NOA) are set by the State for any and all construction trades. These are products that are approved by the State and can be used in all parts of the state, including the designated Hurricane Zones. If the product is not approved for use by the State of Florida, it’s probably not going to hold up very well against hurricanes, especially during a storm surge and more importantly won’t pass the building code requirements and inspection.
To ensure that the impact entrance doors you are buying have been approved by the State of Florida, you can either ask the manufacturer for a Product Approval confirmation, or you can check online at the official FBC website. Most impact entry doors that are listed on the Florida Product Approval page have also received approval from the Miami-Dade County.
The Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance is provided by the Miami-Dade County, and they are all approved by the Florida Building Code. However, the installation procedure is more stringent. Companies must be in compliance with Miami-Dade building codes, which override the Florida Building Code. If you are in Broward or Miami-Dade counties, it’s imperative that you ask your door manufacturer to provide information about approvals, both from the state and the respective county. If the door manufacturer is located in Miami you most likely can be assured they are Miami-Dade County approved but you should always confirm by requesting copies of the NOA’s.
2) Poor Quality Installation
Even if the commercial doors have a current NOA, meets HVHZ standards, and carries the appropriate Performance Grade (PG) rating, you need to understand that installation plays a major role in how the door performs. Impact doors are made of heavier gauge metal compared to non-impact doors, they have reinforced hinges, they typically have a minimum of 9/16” laminated glass, are extremely heavy, require specific fasteners with specific locations, designed with structural silicone, and so on. It’s critical that the contractor installing impact entrance doors has extensive experience with working with these types of doors.
Accurate measurements must be taken by installers before the door is fitted properly. Even a slight mistake, such as an inaccurate jamb depth calculation could have a dire impact on how the door performs.
To avoid problems with the impact entrance doors later on, it’s highly recommended that work with a qualified glazing contractor that has a long-standing track record in the industry.
3) Going Above and Beyond – Choosing Doors that Exceed Minimum Code Requirements
A number of manufacturers who provide coastal impact commercial entrance doors usually provide options that meet minimum code requirements. If you want peace of mind, you need to find a South Florida commercial door manufacturer that goes above and beyond and exceed the minimum code requirements.
Always ask for the evaluation report and check the design pressure and impact resistance of the product. Instead of buying Miami entrance doors that are designed to meet the minimum standards, do your research and understand what aspects of the door exceed design pressures or water resistance or made with a heavier gauged metal. These are the types of discussion and questions you should have with the manufacturer.
Impact doors are an investment, so don’t choose one that barely meets the standards. Instead, opt for a product that can hold its own in tough conditions and can resist misalignment, bowing, or buckling.
4) Material and Quality
Perhaps the most important thing that you need to consider is the hardware of the impact doors. Additionally, the type of material, its overall quality and the metal finishes all play an integral role in the overall longevity of the product.
These doors are designed to take a serious beating; they are subjected to live-missile tests where a 2×4 is shot (3 times) at the glass at 34 mph. After the unit passes the impact test the door unit goes into a cycling chamber and goes through 9,000 cycles of positive and negative pressure – all to simulate the effects of a hurricane. Unless the door passes the Miami-Dade HVHZ test or the Florida Product Approval, they can’t be referred to as “impact-rated” and cannot be installed in areas that require impact protection unless there is some other type of approved system to protect the building such as shutters.