The following frequently asked questions and additional information are taken from an interview with Lynn Ward, founder and CEO of Door Consultants. The entire interview can be viewed here:
Who do you service?
We service schools, churches, condominiums, and homeowners. We often do emergency repairs for home or building owners who have had a break-in.
What does your company do?
We will replace the door, whether it be residential wood door or commercial steel, install new locks, make the necessary repairs to the frame. In some cases, for insurance companies, we have to arrange for the finishing of the door, such as the staining and varnishing or painting of the door to put it back into the condition it was in before it was broken into.
Can you tell me about types of doors and their differences?
One of the things that is confusing to most homeowners is when they look at a door they have no idea what kind of a door it is. They don't know if it's a flush or if it's a panel door.
A panel door has a design to it. It can't be described with 2 or 3 measurements. This is an imitation panel door, it has the styles and rails and it happens to have a panel. This is an unusual construction, it's actually a solid core door, not a very good door, great for interior but not for anyone's exterior.
Most doors I install are the flush design. You can describe this with a few measurements, the width, the height, and the thickness. These doors are inherently much tougher than the panel door, so we prefer to use these doors.
Most doors in the city are metal skinned doors, but are they really that strong?
That type of metal skin door is what has probably been installed in about 95% of all the homes that have been built here in the city, especially condominiums, in the last twenty years. That door does have a tendency to give out when people kick on them. As long as no one kicks on them they'll last awhile until the frame that they're mounted in will rust out.
What would you replace the metal-skinned door with?
Well if someone had a metal skinned door with that styrofoam inside I would put this (a flush) door on. The difficulty is that this door weighs about 80 pounds where the metal skin door only weighs about 15. So we have to reinforce the frame to even begin to hold this door. We do that with larger hinges, and sometimes we take off the trim on the hinge side of the door and put a steel plate behind the frame and actually put the hinges on that through the frame then into the steel plate to hold the weight.
When should buildings hire you?
To their advantage most likely they'd call me right after they'd moved in. Many of these doors have many different keys so we'd either change the locks or have them re-keyed. You want to know that you're the only person to have that key.
Which neighborhoods do you work in?
I work in all the neighborhoods but I get most of my calls right downtown, that's where most of my work is. I do get a lot of calls far south and to the west. I get a lot of calls for break-ins. There are some neighborhoods that I've never been in and some that I go to quite often.
Why not use a locksmith?
A locksmith will make the locks work properly. They don't always have the skills to make the door fit in the frame properly. The first thing we do in addressing any problem with the door is we disconnect the door closer and get the door properly. Once the door is functioning properly, then we get the lock to function properly. Once that is working, then we install the door closers to make that all work as a unit properly.
What's the most unusual thing that's happened at your job?
The story that comes to mind the most is when the neighbor came over, asked about the door and got the attention of the owner and was explaining to the owner how it was good to see her son had come back from the Army earlier that day. However the son, "obviously he forgot his key because he had to climb on his buddy's shoulder and sneak in your bedroom window, and then I saw him leaving, he was carrying his TV set. He had to kick on the front door to get the door open". That's why I was replacing it. Well, it wasn't her son coming home from the army, she was being broken into and she (the neighbor) watched the whole thing, had the opportunity to call the police and didn't do it.
I'd like to draw your attention to this particular door that I reinforced and made operate properly. These are ball bearings on here. The idea of putting the ball bearing on is that it takes the friction out so if you push on the door it'll come back without the squeaking and all the other noise that goes along with it. This happens to be a paint grade hinge so eventually, that will get painted out. We can use any finish we like, they come in brushed chrome, polished brass and so on. They're all in stock when you go to the proper supplier.
What about the door frame?
The other thing we do a lot of is to reinforce door frames. This one was a particular challenge because of the depth of the wall. This was a stainless steel plate modified to fit in this particular building. Without taking everything apart we got this plate on and then put the holes in it for key and Knoblock and for the deadbolt.
Installing a door check.
One of the other repairs that we had done to this particular door is we installed this door closer or the door check. It properly controls the speed of the door so it doesn't slam A properly operating door should close between five and seven seconds. These doors have basically no weight to them so typically what contractors do and developers do to make this door closed is they rely on speed to make it close and compress against this gasket. Well, that's not a good idea, people can get hurt, it just isn't going to work and it makes a lot of noise. So we put on the door closer, put on the proper amount of spring pressure so when you let go of the door it will latch reliably each time.
Incorrect use of a door.
This particular door (see above photo) was never meant to be a common area door. It was meant to be, say, the door to a garage or maybe the front door to a home. It's got the fancy window in it, but it was never meant to have a door closer on it and it was never meant to be used by many different people. So it's kind of a shame, we're taking a door that is maybe a seventy-five, eighty-five dollar door and we're having to put several hundred, in fact, this door here almost four hundred dollars of hardware on it to make it close properly. And it's got again another four or five hundred dollars in labor to put all these parts on. So basically you had an eighty dollar door but you spent another thousand dollars on it to make it do what you wanted. Ideally, what the developer would have done is he would have put on a higher quality door from the beginning.
Patents for frame reinforcement.
Another thing we're in the process of patenting is this particular frame reinforcement. I've been getting a lot of calls for doors that were kicked off on the hinge side and not the lock. So this is a j-shaped piece of stainless steel that captures the edge of this frame here. As you see it wraps around back here and the leg of behind the frame comes way out to here. So I put this in, then I installed long screws that go through this frame here, they go through the stainless steel plate and they go into the two-by-four behind. This one I've got two screws on, so if you were to force on this door, rather than this frame breaking away so easily it would be reinforced by the stainless steel.
How should someone contact you?
Call me. The number is 312-906-9313. Or they can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.