Special-Lite To Market Hurricane-Resistant Door In Coastal States


Special-Lite Inc., the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass-reinforced polyester (FRP) doors, has launched a concentrated effort to sell a hurricane-resistant door in states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

The company is beefing up efforts to market its most heavy duty exterior door to schools, churches, restaurants and other buildings in areas at risk to the high-velocity winds and flying debris common to hurricanes and tropical storms. Special-Lite recently received notification from an independent testing laboratory that its doors will withstand the impact of a 2-by-4 inch piece of lumber flying at 35 miles per hour and wind velocities exceeding 50 miles per hour, Special-Lite Manager of Marketing Dan Depta said.

In addition to the results from the Tampa, Fla. branch laboratory of Architectural Testing Inc., Special-Lite has also received Florida Product Approval to sell its SL-17 FRP Flush Doors in the state of Florida where hurricane ratings are crucial, Depta said. The doors were tested to Florida Building Protocols TAS 201-94 (impact test), TAS 202-94 (uniform static air pressure test) and TAS 203-94 (cyclic wind pressure loading test).

Depta said Special-Lite has doors in service across the United States under some of the most demanding conditions, such as California State Parks, Chicago's Navy Pier, the New York Museum of Modern Art and Bowling Green State University. Special-Lite's FRP doors are extremely resistant to mold and mildew, water damage and corrosive environments.

"We didn't have to change a thing in the way our SL-17 doors were manufactured to pass Florida's rigorous standards" Depta said. Von Duprin® latching hardware and removable mullion as well as vision lites using Oldcastle Glass® StormGlass(TM) hurricane-resistant glass were used for the SL-17 hurricane rated configuration. York, Pa.-based Architectural Testing Inc. is one of the nation's leading laboratories for testing the safety, structural stability and energy efficiency of building products and has previously tested the SL-17 for energy efficiency and durability.

Now that its doors have been independently tested and certified, the company will be pursuing new customers in Florida and other Gulf Coast states and Atlantic seaboard states as far north as New York, Depta said. End users of Special-Lite® products include schools and universities, restaurants, retail, aquariums and zoos, hospitals and spas, government and religious buildings, as well as industrial and water treatment facilities.

Founded in 1971 in Decatur, Mich., Special-Lite Inc. employs approximately 150 people in the design and fabrication of complete entrance systems for educational, commercial, institutional, industrial and municipal applications. Special-Lite doors are custom-made using a proprietary process and equipment, allowing the doors to be durable, lightweight and flexible. Because of Special-Lite's custom capabilities, they have supplied custom entrances providing a signature look for over 40 restaurant chains across the country.

Special-Lite has developed its own versions of durability tests. To test how its doors would respond to a hard shove or kick, the company performed a "sand bag slam test" in which a 215-pound sand bag is repeatedly slammed into the door at a force of up to 750 pounds per square foot. Another durability test placed doors in the Arizona desert to measure fade-resistance and their ability to withstand thermal extremes.

Architectural Testing opened and closed a SL-17 door continuously from February 12, 2002 until March 27, 2006. After completing 25 million cycles, the door continued to perform well, although the closer and exit device push pad had to be replaced multiple times.

"But probably our most demanding application is still the door between the high school locker room and the football field," Depta said. "Talk about taking a pounding. They run right into it. They kick it open...with cleats on. I just can't think of a more rigorous test for a door than 45 young men who have just won a football game - unless they've just lost."

Special-Lite® is a registered trademark of Special-Lite, Inc. Oldcastle Glass® is a registered trademark of Oldcastle Glass.
StormGlass(TM) is a trademark of Oldcastle Glass. Von Duprin® is a registered trademark of Ingersoll-Rand Company.

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