In the early ‘80s, vinyl windows were starting to make their way into the market. The established manufacturers of wood and aluminum window products asked who would buy plastic windows. The answer, as we all know today, is everyone. When vinyl was introduced to window fabricators, it provided them the opportunity to build a maintenance-free, long-term durable product at about the same cost as wood. Vinyl quickly became the market standard for residential window products. Today vinyl is used in the majority of residential windows manufactured.
Door frames never made the same leap. Wood has remained the primary framing material for the door industry. But innovations in vinyl frame design are addressing the issues that have kept vinyl off door frames until now and bringing prices in line with wood. In this article, we will take a look at one such PVC door-frame system manufactured by Toronto, Ont.’s RocSolid Door Components.
Rocsolid has designed and engineered a system of connectable PVC components that can be assembled by pre-hangers to create any system they can imagine. The Rocsolid system actually retains the strength and esthetics of wood, but puts it in its place: on the inside of the home.
The outer frame is a PVC extrusion that is assembled using a strong, glass-filled, nylon corner key. The inner frame is pre-painted wood, making the frame easy to hinge, latch and install while creating excellent rigidity. The patented corner key is critical to this system. It joins the head and leg extrusions at the top corners and is screwed to both. This creates great strength and rigidity, while not allowing any separation of the connection. The frame won’t rack or collapse like end-work prepped frames.
|Vinyl door frames are designed to assemble easily using interlocking corner keys and a few screws. Quick installation and durability are making them a popular option for many builders.
With the corner key addressing the structural concerns associated with PVC frames, pre-hangers are free to exploit the benefits vinyl offers as a building material. A PVC outer frame and wood inner frame has many advantages over a purely wood frame. It is maintenance-free, durable over the long term and weatherproof and strong on the outside while maintaining the rigidity, ease of use and familiarity of wood where the installer places hinges and latches on the inside.
The best part is, it is very close in price to ordinary lumber.
The Rocsolid system allows for box or mullion post construction assembling with a solid and clean finish. Frame sizes currently available are 4-9/16 and 6-9/16 inches with brick mould choices of a 5/8-inch, two-flute pattern and a two-inch step-down profile. The brick mould is designed to accept a storm door installation without needing reinforcement, and the specially designed brick mould corner key helps create a perfect miter joint. Mullions can be covered with a one 1/8-inch standard mullion cover or a low-profile burlap mullion cover that allows for screen movement.
The Rocsolid one-piece posts are designed to offer the most cost-efficient and quickest assembly in the industry. The jamb and header are assembled simply by inserting corner keys and pushing the parts together then securing with screws and staples. The sill screws into place at the bottom, and with a little caulking, it’s done. The brick mould attaches to the jamb with simple tongue-and-groove connections that also engage with the corner keys to make the whole frame one solid unit. Drive a few screws, caulk, and the brick mould is attached.
A critical part of the system is the hard PVC filler strips. These allow for bottom-mounting of the sills up into the filler strip screw ports and for the mounting of posts. The filler strips are inserted into the jamb cavities to enable the pre-hanger to screw the sill onto the jamb from the bottom. The mullion connector base is also simply screwed onto the jambs and covered with the pre-hanger’s method of choice. If extra stability is desired, the pre-hanger can insert filler strips into the jamb cavities. The filler strips allow for a solid durable connection with any sill. If required, the Rocsolid system is available with cavities designed to accept steel reinforcement.
Another key consideration is the requirement under the North American Fenestration Standard for all exposed wood in door systems to be preserved or sealed against water penetration. NAFS is becoming part of building codes around the country. Soon, pre-hangers will not be able to deliver systems with exposed, untreated wood. But how many wood systems do you know come pre-treated or sealed? PVC door frames remove this problem, and in the Rocsolid system, all the wood components are on the interior and not exposed to the elements. Since Rocsolid supplies only the framing components (no slab, sill, sweep, etc.), the system cannot be tested by itself for NAFS compliance, but the frame should have no bearing on the result one way or the other. The key to passing NAFS-08 is the sill and sweep combination. That said, the Rocsolid frame, or almost any other on the market today, will meet the standard if the system it is used with can pass.