Steel doors offer many benefits throughout school buildings /Other/AA%20Products/AAST/Corridor.jpg It can be easy to dismiss steel doors as a solution for industrial or high security premises, rather than public buildings such as schools or universities. ASSA ABLOY Security Doors looks at how modern steel doors offer a wide range of benefits for today’s educational buildings, especially extended schools used by local communities and schools facing anti-social behaviour or violence. If the government delivers its extended services programme, growing numbers of schools are likely to be remodeled into community learning centres or hubs, so their IT, leisure and library facilities can be used by local residents outside of school hours. This turns educational buildings into both public and private spaces, subject to higher levels of traffic and used by members of the public who previously would not have received access to school facilities. The implications for internal door specification are twofold: doors will need to be durable and robust to withstand heavy usage, plus they will need to provide a high level of security to ensure the ‘visiting’ general public do not gain access to unauthorised areas. At the same time, some schools are now having to tackle violence and disruption on a regular basis, with research from the National Union of Teachers suggesting that up to 8,000 teachers a week are dealing with pupils carrying an offensive weapon, such as a knife or gun. Thankfully, this behaviour seems to affect a limited number of schools, but vandal resistance and pupil safety are important elements of any school building design and should be applied to the door specification process. Is the door resistant to attack? Will it need to be replaced if it is vandalised? Can the door protect pupils within a classroom in the event of an incident? Why choose steel doors One of the most immediate benefits of steel doors is the high level of security they can provide. Steel doors consist of a steel door and frame, making them exceptionally robust and difficult to attack or break through. The doors can resist high levels of pressure, which deters casual intruders and helps to prevent theft or damage. This makes them ideal for administration and finance offices, where they can help to protect pupil data and financial information or IT and design classrooms, where they can help to secure valuable equipment. Steel doors will also help to reduce maintenance costs. Unlike timber doors, they don’t need painting and aren’t susceptible to rotting or warping. Steel doors typically use polyester powder coated finishes that provide increased durability. They have lower maintenance requirements compared to other door materials and have longer lifecycles. Their vandal resistance also helps to lower cleaning and repair requirements. Steel doors are resistant to damage and abuse from soft and hard impact bodies, easily concealed hand tools and general misuse, which helps to maintain a pleasant environment that aids pupil wellbeing and instills pride within the school. In fact, modern steel doors are available in a range of visually appealing styles that can complement interior schemes and their design can be quite deceptive. Its important that internal doors do not appear too imposing, as this can create a sense of restriction rather than freedom for pupils, who should feel at ease within their surroundings. Steel doors can be specified in fun bright colours to create an attractive environment, yet estate managers can be confident that they are robust and highly secure. Steel doors are also extremely durable, offering greater impact resistance in high traffic areas such as corridors and canteens. Bags, footwear and even catering trolleys can quickly damage internal doors made from other materials, whereas steel doors can be subjected to the most boisterous of pupils, dashing out to the playground! It’s also important to consider the fire resistant properties of internal doors. Steel doors provide advanced fire protection, far exceeding those of other door materials such as timber, PVCu or aluminium. ASSA ABLOY’s Powershield steel door range has been tested and proven to resist the effects of fire for up to 4 hours, in line with British and European standards. This provides vital protection for students, staff and valuable data. Finally, steel doors are particularly effective in areas where noise and sound levels are important. To maximise sound insulation, it is necessary to minimise vibrations in and through a structure. This is determined by the door mass, stiffness and insulation. Steel acoustic doors provide greater mass than other raw materials and the core materials are also developed to improve insulation and stiffness. This means that steel doors will absorb noise more effectively than other materials, helping to create quieter learning environments. Hence, they are a strong choice for music and theatre areas, where sound needs to be controlled to allow students to enjoy their performances but without disturbing neighbouring classes. A safe choice During these tougher times, school specifiers and estate managers can consider steel a safe choice in every sense when specifying internal doors. Steel doors will protect pupils and assets to create secure yet attractive learning environments, and will protect schools’ maintenance budgets by minimising cleaning and repair requirements. Whether specifiers are remodeling existing premises, ‘making do’ after a new build has been postponed or undertaking essential RMI work, steel doors will deliver peace of mind for all school building users and owners in the years ahead. ASSA ABLOY Security Doors manufactures and installs Powershield steel doors in a range of performance options, including security, fire resistant, vandal resistant, acoustic, classroom and external. For further information, visit www.powershield.co.uk or telephone 02892 662200.