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high performance utility doors

mattseidel | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Does anyone have suggestions for specifying higher-performing utility doors? I’m looking for a better version of the typical steel or fiberglass doors (no glass) found at walk-out basements or cellars. Thanks.

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  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    Are you thinking of the angled "bilco doors", or normal man doors like you'd set into a regular wall? Bilco doors are what they are, and they're all pretty simple from what I've seen. None of them have much more than a drop seal for rain, and they're formed from steel sheet. Very, very basic.

    If you're thinking regular man doors, just step up to a commerical door. If you want a beefier door, specify a fire-rated door even if you don't need it. A 1-hour rated door will be pretty substantial compared to a regular interior door, and a 1.5 hour rated door more substantial still. That's probably the easiest way to ensure you're getting a pretty heavy duty door. They won't be great in terms of thermal insulation though, so when you say "higher performing", do you mean in terms of energy efficiency or durability?


    1. mattseidel | | #2

      Bill, thanks for your response. I should have been more specific in my original question. I'm looking for a normal man door (~3'-0" x 6'-8") that is more energy-efficient than a typical fiberglass or insulated steel door. I've used triple-glazed tilt-turn windows and doors on a few builds (Zola, Logic, Rieder) and they're obviously fantastic for entry doors. But what I haven't found is a cellar/basement door that is less expensive than a passive house door but more energy efficient than the usual utilitarian doors. Thanks again.

  2. charlie_sullivan | | #3

    I agree--this is a gap in the available offerings. There's not much available, but a few considerations you can factor in:

    1. A multipoint lock system can help the door seal better and is usually an option, sold more for security than air sealing but it seems to really help.

    2. It's hard to find information on what type of blowing agent is used in the foam in doors. The two ways I know you can avoid high-global-warming-potential blowing agents are to go with Jeld Wen, as they use Neopor graphite infused EPS, or Clopay, because they explicitly specify that they have low GWP in their polyurethane foam.

    1. mattseidel | | #4

      Charlie, thanks for your feedback. I was going down the path of Jeld-Wen but hadn't considered multipoint locks. I'll talk to my supplier about options.

  3. user-5946022 | | #5

    An even bigger gap in this space is when you need a crawl space door that is not standard size...

    I've resorted to finding an online supplier who will make an insulated fiberglass door using PVC stiles, and then gluing additional insulation to the inside. For air sealing, field fabricate a four sided frame out of pvc door stop. The online suppliers will also send you such a door prehung with pvc door stop all four sides if your opening meets one of the standard sizes.

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