Wausau Window and Wall Systems
July 2017



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High-rise building design professionals' desire to provide occupants with expansive views and a connection to the outdoors has led manufacturers to develop new and innovative exterior door systems, for access to patios, roof terraces, balconies and lanais on upper floors. Choices include aluminum storefront entrance doors, architectural terrace doors, folding doors or sliding glass doors - the latter employing either conventional or European "lift and slide" hardware options.


A new Wausau presentation, "Balcony Door Systems," presents the functionality and inherent performance limitations of each balcony door option. Approved by the American Institute of Architects, topics of this one-hour continuing education system (AIA/CES) program include:
     -   Provisions of codes
     -   Determination of design criteria
     -   Testing and evaluation
Accessibility, energy efficiency, acoustical performance and condensation resistance are addressed, and American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) standards are reviewed.


Be sure to quantify the anticipated deflection of the building structure above and below the door. If excessive, deflection due to live load or seasonal temperature changes can bind operation, compromise weather-ability, or even lead to door panel disengagement if special anti-fall-out design features are not employed.
Anchor zones should be identified on structural drawings, and adequate cure time allowed before loading slabs. Anchorage to post-tensioned concrete poses unique challenges.


Where protected from the elements, Wausau's aluminum storefront doors are sometimes used for patio access. Aluminum storefront doors are large, durable and adjustable, and accept a broad range of hardware. For any side-hinged door, closers help ensure safe operation. However, industry standards cite no requirement for water testing of aluminum entrances under wind pressure, and their allowable air infiltration is higher than other door types.


ATDs, such as   Wausau's TD-4250i , are side-hinged, and can be designed for high-rise air, water and structural performance, but are limited in size as well as in breadth of available hardware options. A typical, integrated ATD hardware package includes an operating handle, door latch, Euro-track multiple-point locks, thumb-turn and flush bolt. ATDs are available as single leaf doors or double French doors with open-able astragals.


While not in Wausau's portfolio of products, folding doors are available for a variety of interior and exterior applications. Operable panels can be hung from the head rail, or can ride on a sill track. They can swing in or out, center-pivot or use a sliding-pivot. Sill track options include flush, saddle or weathering designs. Some sill track designs require supplemental drainage provisions within substrate construction. Maximum folding panel size is limited.


SGDs, like Wausau's new   CrossTrak™ , move in the plane of the wall and are designed for high-rise air, water and structural performance, optimizing the inherent trade-offs between air-tightness and operating force.
Two-track SGD designs are available in four configurations: half-slide, end-slide, center-slide and center-open. Two-track SGDs offer 50 percent open area or less, whereas multi-track doors can offer more than 50 percent open area, albeit with compromises in weather-ability and maximum panel width. Wausau's CrossTrak has been tested in panel sizes up to 8 feet wide by 10 feet tall, employing conventional as well as "lift and slide" hardware. Generally, the use of conventional hardware yields lower unlatching force and greater adjustability, while lift and slide hardware reduces the force necessary to initiate and maintain motion.
Inside-track operable panels are used with Juliet balconies; outside-track with low-profile sills. With creative substrate detailing, permeable decking can allow the use of weather-able and accessible "Fair Housing Act" thresholds.


Doors that are factory-glazed with assembled frames help ensure the plumb, square and level installation that is critical with any balcony door - both when newly installed, and after balcony settlement. Also ask for doors that side-stack with window wall systems, offering:
     -  Matching runs of framing and accessories
     -  Single source responsibility
     -  One warranty
     -  One finisher
     -  One set of shop drawings and calculations
If you would like more information on balcony doors or to schedule the new Wausau AIA/CES presentation "Balcony Door Systems" for your organization, our market managers are available for architectural support and can be reached at info@wausauwindow.com.
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