Friday, May 27, 2011

On Pivot Doors

Often a client will request a glass door that will double as both a view window and an access point.  This kind of discussion usually leads to the possibility of sidelights.  Sidelights are slender vertical windows that flank an entry door.  There are two things that can be wrong with sidelights.  First of all, they can be reminiscent of the kind of entry treatment one finds in office buildings so they don't always help establish the identity of a home.  Secondly, they aren't a very effective method for improving a view. All continuity is interrupted by the jambs of the door.

This is where pivot doors really help.  By moving the pivot point of the door in from the side where the hinges are normally mounted, we are able to "balance" the door and effectively provide another couple feet to a typical three foot entry door width.  This particular door is 5' wide.

A couple things to bear in mind with pivot doors:

1.  Think twice about a pivot door if the home is prone to chaotic traffic.  Small children and pets could get caught in the back swing of the door.  A more typical door is arguably more dangerous when you contemplate what could happen if someone is to stick their fingers where the door closes against the jamb on the hinge side of the door.  Regardless, a pivot door takes some getting use to and this "backswing" is large enough that the chances something will get caught in the backswing of the door is higher than with a traditional hinge door.

2. Weatherstripping is problematic.  Outside of California it could be a challenge to make the weather-stripping function adequately. This door used felt weatherstripping around the perimeter but at the pivot hinge itself it is next to impossible to not have some air infiltration.

3. Since the door is effectively swinging from both the inside and the outside the jamb strikes need to be applied in the field.  This particular unit only had one jamb strike on the latch side.  The jamb closer to the pivot hinge depended entirely on felt for a seal and didn't have any applied stop.

4. Anticipate your pivot hinge hardware spatial and construction requirements.  Pivot hinges are difficult in framed floors.  This particular door had a concrete stem wall extension incorporated into its lower pivot hinge to take the loads on this atypically large door.  A straightforward installation is into a concrete slab.

If these issues can be dealt with:  Use a pivot door!  They are an elegant and attractive way to celebrate an entrance.  This particular installation was accomplished by Caldwell Trouette General Contractors.

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