Testing the security of windows and doors

By Mark West, door and window laboratory manager, Element.

With crime figures showing that burglary is on the rise, it is more essential than ever for manufacturers to demonstrate their commitment to preventing unwanted entry into a building.

Designers and manufacturers face a fiercely competitive market and it’s fundamental that their products are proven to resist forced entry. To achieve this, they must meet the minimum regulated requirements and be tested for certain performance characteristics.

There are a number of different, accepted standards that products can be tested against. Fortunately, there are specialists whose business is to understand the full picture when it comes to performance testing.

At Element, we have some of the best and largest rigs in the country, capable of testing doors, windows and their hardware for security, durability, and weather and thermal resistance. Our expertise also extends to third-party testing certification.

The main functions of windows and doors have the side effect of potentially compromising security. Until 2015, mitigating this risk was not covered by an Approved Document to the Building Regulations. Even now, ADQ’s scope is restricted to new homes only, applying to external ground floor doors, garage doors, and doors to communal spaces.

In practice, many construction projects will specify a standard for security that is significantly higher than that mandated in the Building Regulations. In those cases, the recognised gold standard is Secured by Design (SBD), which awards membership to companies producing security products that pass standards nominated by the police service.

The most common test standard in the UK is PAS24:2016. This outlines the basic criteria that products must satisfy to be certified as resistant to opportunistic attacks. The tests – which can be conducted on all types and configurations, including sliding, composite bifold doors and parallel opening windows – are designed to mimic attack, which tend to be carried out quickly and quietly, using simple, easily concealed implements.

As a manufacturer, demonstrating that your products are certified to PAS24:2016 is a guarantee that they meet stringent security standards, are manufactured to a consistent quality, and that production is monitored by a Ukas-accredited certification body. In short, it proves that your product is trustworthy.

Security Technical Schedule (STS) 202 is an enhanced test method and an alternative route to compliance with ADQ. It’s a more robust, security-specific test. Unlike PAS24, it includes security grills, roller shutters and garage doors intended for installation in additional types of buildings including high-risk industrial and commercial buildings. This test includes attack with power tools, as it assumes the intruder is not constrained by needing to keep quiet and is likely to be more organised than the average domestic burglar.

Specifiers are increasingly looking for higher levels of quality assurance than that afforded by test evidence alone.

A test result applies to an individual sample and is no guarantee that other windows or doors of the same model on the same production line will perform in the same way. Manufacturers can overcome this by having their products third-party certified as well as tested. This guarantees that all examples of the product have been produced to the same standard.

Opting for third-party certification isn’t just about satisfying market demand, it is also a matter of reputation. Manufacturers whose products are third-party certified signal their commitment to quality and to improving the construction industry for the benefit of owners and users.

At Element, we will also audit the factory production process and retest samples annually to ensure that standards of workmanship have not slipped and that a product’s security performance has not reduced.

Ensuring that products meet or exceed the security requirements is a straightforward way for manufacturers to reassure customers that their windows and doors are sufficiently robust.