Are Doors Just Doors?

Most self-storage door companies have the same goal: to bring a viable, competitive product to the marketplace, sell it, and make a reasonable profit. No one can argue with that. But buyers can do themselves a big favor by becoming smarter businesspeople and paying attention to a few basics when purchasing doors.

The first order of business is to choose a company that manufactures doors, not just a supplier. A supplier might be an independent broker, dealer or other type of middleman that doesnt have the knowledge or expertise to deal with the details of the transaction. With a manufacturer, you deal directly with the source. The company spends time and money to research and develop door improvements and innovations, and it understands all facets of the product, including design, manufacture, assembly, shipping and installation.

The Same but Not

Though all roll-up doors are designed to perform essentially the same functions, theyre not all alike. There are obvious differences for which to look. Some are more subtle than others, but equally important. Here are the three fundamental product attributes you should expect without exception:

Doors should be durable.

After all, they get a lot of action in the course of their lifeup and down, up and down, ad infinitum until they need replacement parts. So a door must not only be able to withstand the repetition of opening and closing, it should do so with ease. This is dependent on several factors, one of which is making sure the door has long-lasting springs that are calibrated to operate without adjustment.

Door curtains should be protected.

Because the nature of self-storage doors is to roll and unroll time and again, their panels must be strongly interlocked so they wont separate during repeated use. The materials used and the interlock design are critical. To avoid damage, its important that door tracks allow additional clearance for curtains to move freely during motion.

Even small features like self-lubricating polyethylene guards and dampening strips can protect against wear and misalignment and extend door life. Dampening strips have two functions. Theyre necessary to protect the curtains paint finish and ensure smooth operation, but they also control noise. Each time a door is raised, a properly designed door-stop system can ensure a safe stop every time. Check with your vendor to make sure its doors have these features.

Doors should weather storms.

Doors installed in areas of extreme weather or hurricanes, such as Florida, the Gulf Coast or the Mid-Atlantic states, should be reinforced and roll-formed to a configuration that handles high wind loads with minimum flex. What about weathering? Higher quality doors are painted with a durable finish so there is little chance they will discolor, fade or rust.

Shipping and Handling

Nothing is more frustrating than having your doors arrive on site and finding them damaged. This can throw off scheduling and cost money in lost time. There are variances in the way each company packs its doors for shipping, so ask your supplier how it ensures safe and secure delivery. Furthermore, door installations are often left up to the buyer, so its important that detailed and understandable instructions come with every shipment.

The Choice Is Yours

In the final analysis, your buying decision revolves around three issues: quality, price and service. Quality and price go hand in hand. If you want a good product, you must be willing to pay for it. If you shop based on price, quality will invariably suffer. Cheaper doors might even look shiny and work fine for a while. Its when things start to fall apart that you realize the error of your ways.

For this reason, warranties are an important aspect of the buying decision. Theres a big difference in warranties, which can seriously impact the cost of maintenance down the road. If you warranty is inadequate or expires too quickly, youll be left paying for repairs.

Finally, consider the level of service you can expect from your door vendor. Once the sale is finalized, expect a reasonable schedule of production and delivery to coincide with your needs. This is where dealing with a manufacturer can be a distinct advantage, because the company usually assigns a project manager or supervisor to monitor your order through the entire process.

Once the doors are delivered, expect advisory assistance from your supplier during installation, regardless of who does the work. This is a critical stage of the process. Proper advice, instructions and installation will ensure trouble-free door use for years to come.

When faced with the task of buying doors, take your time and shop around. Youll be surprised how much you can learn by comparison shopping. In time, youll understand why all doors are not created equal.

Gayel Weaver is the sales coordinator for BDH Systems, which manufactures door and hallway systems for new construction and conversions. BDH is a subsidiary of BETCO Inc., a single-source manufacturer of metal self-storage buildings. For more information, call 704.872.2999; visit

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