Meeting real-life challenges

The problem of disappointing hardware – of finishes that pit and peel – has scarred the industry, says Nick Dutton, CEO at Brisant-Secure, who offers a solution.

Homeowners take pride in their front doors: no-one buys a front door with gleaming hardware to look beautiful for just two or three years.

People expect their new door to age gracefully and look good in 20 years. The door slabs will probably meet expectations, but often a couple of years is all they’ll get before their hardware pits and peels, making the door look old before its time.

Most hardware isn’t built to last 20 years, and not if it’s within 30 miles of the sea or near a major road, industrial centre, or busy city. Yet most homes are that close. So, most hardware won’t be fit for purpose. The expensive door slab may look good, but no-one sees behind pitted peeling hardware.

Not surprisingly, many homeowners are disappointed with their new door, and the installer who sold it. Clearly their hardware isn’t fit for purpose, but that’s not the fault of the installer or fabricator who made the door.

Why are there so few products that meet the UK’s challenging atmospheric conditions head on and give homeowners hardware that will stay the course?

Currently, door hardware needs to withstand an accelerated weathering test of just 240 hours (10 days) in salt spray testing to pass the European EN1906:2012 corrosion standard. Some test for 480 hours (still only 20 days) when it should last for decades. Surely standards should be designed for real life, not low enough for any hardware to pass.

We believe hardware should be designed for the challenges it will meet, and in Britain that means withstanding salty sea air and polluted atmospheres in congested urban and industrial areas and near high traffic roads where most of us live. It needs to be designed and built to last. If homeowners are disappointed with the look of their door and the rough feel of that once smooth handle when they open and close it, they’ll think twice before recommending the installer who sold it to them. And that’s a problem for installers who sell to people near where they live.

In the industry we know that great-looking high-performing hardware sells doors. But if it soon looks dreadful, it won’t sell as many as it could.

That’s why we raised the bar, and we hope that others will follow our lead. The Sweet range of hardware has been designed specifically to tackle the blight of peeling, pitting, discolouring and corrosion. It’s designed to last the lifetime of the door.

Sweet hardware – which includes door handles, ultra-secure Lock Lock handles, letter boxes, numerals, knockers and escutcheons – comes in six colour options. All products have multiple coatings of brass and nickel for added protection and each features Sweet’s unique edgeless design. Sharp edges provide a weak point for the elements to attack and corrosion to start, so we don’t have any.

We’ve put our hardware to the test, so it withstands more than 8,000 hours (around a year), of full-on accelerated weather saltwater testing. That’s 30 times more than the industry standard requires. After a year Sweet and Lock Lock come out looking as good as new: wipe away the encrusted salt and they’re still shining bright. That’s what gives us the confidence to give a 20-year guarantee, something our customers, and their customers, really appreciate.

Ben Brocklesby, sales and marketing director at Origin Windows, said: “One of the key reasons for choosing the Sweet door furniture is that it has the highest corrosive resistances on the market, which exceed the required standard tests.

“The Sweet 20-year homeowner guarantee against damage due to the elements fits in line with Origin’s 20-year guarantee on our products, offering us the assurance we need that the ancillaries used will stand the test of time.”

For too long, the industry has endured the consequences of door hardware falling well short of customer expectations. The industry has let down homeowners, installers and fabricators. It’s time to demand more and put it right so the hardware you fit today will still look good in 20 years’ time.