When it comes to choosing hardware, many people tend to focus solely on aesthetics and overlook other key aspects that are crucial for optimal performance and functionality. While aesthetics certainly plays a role in the overall appeal of hardware, it is essential to delve deeper into the technical specifications and features to make an informed decision. One of the primary factors to consider is the hardware’s compatibility with your specific requirements. Performance is another critical aspect that should not be overlooked. Hardware with superior performance will enable you to carry out your tasks efficiently and smoothly.
Reliability and durability are key aspects that should not be underestimated. Hardware components are long-term investments, and choosing reliable brands known for their quality can save you from headaches and unexpected failures down the line. Reading reviews and researching the reputation of manufacturers can provide valuable insights into the reliability and durability of their products. Another consideration is the thermal performance and acoustic capabilities of the hardware. Lastly, pricing plays a significant role in hardware selection. It is important to strike a balance between your budget and the quality and features offered by the hardware. While it may be tempting to opt for cheaper alternatives, compromising on key aspects such as performance and reliability may cost you more in the long run.
We spoke to several architects regarding making informed decisions while selecting architectural hardware that meets your needs and provides a satisfactory user experience. Below are the briefs from the discussions which will help you to select hardware prioritising performance, compatibility, durability, and user interface beyond aesthetics.
Architectural hardware allows us to navigate through buildings such as knobs, hinges, latches, levers, and locks. Choosing the right hardware is important for the success of a project, as it affects the functionality, durability, aesthetics and sustainability of doors, windows, and façades. The right choice of architectural hardware is one of the key elements to the success of a project. How do you go about it?
Without the appropriate hardware, any infrastructure, whether commercial or institutional, is insufficient. As a result, it is critical to think of the right architectural hardware with a comprehensive range. The items shall be well-built and crafted from the highest-quality raw materials while keeping the tiniest details in mind, says Ar. Geetanjali Malik, Senior Architect, BDP Design Engineering Pvt. Ltd.
Choosing the right hardware is important for the success of a project, as it affects the functionality, durability, aesthetics and sustainability of doors, windows and façades, says Ar. Harikrushna Pattani, Founder & Principal Designer, Harikrushna Pattani & Associates. Different types of doors and windows may require different types of hardware. For example, sliding doors may need rollers, tracks and handles, while casement windows may need friction stays, handles and locks. The hardware should suit the purpose and operation of the door or window, says Pattani.
According to Ar. Suhas Nalawade, Principal – design cell, STELLAR Design Studio, the right choice of hardware enhance the aesthetics, safety/security, durability, energy and cost efficiency, and accessibility for the longevity of a project. Careful consideration of hardware choices and their integration within the architectural design process can greatly enhance the overall performance and user experience of a structure.
Being the backbone of the system/ façade, hardware is the most critical factor for its functionality. However, it must integrate with the current design trends in the industry. Long span windows, seamless or thin sections, hidden sash frames, least visual interruptions, the ease of operations, hidden tracks and the list goes on at design with case specific needs. The design Wishlist becomes redundant without thoughtful HARDWARE to support the facet.
Visible sections, hinges, locking systems, access-controlled features, tracks (simply supported, one side connect, etc), drain channels, gutter details, strengthening members, extendable sections, fixing channels, cleats, fixings angles, screws & bolts, Allen or Hex key operated sets, etc Hardware comes in a variety of materials, finishes and colours.
An architect will always decide on the overall concept of the building. The concept may be based on the architectural style – it could be a minimalist design or an art deco-themed building. The hardware should ideally reflect the style of the building, states Ar. Vasudevan R Kadalayil, Principal Architect, Ecumene Habitat Solutions Pvt. Ltd. It is also imperative for architects to consult with the contractor to ensure that their experiential advice is used to reinforce the selection recommendations.
These BEHIND THE SCREEN members become one of the reasons for the successful installation or design of any façade or operable installation like doors or windows.
Tips to Choose Architectural Hardware
When all of the appropriate hardware is placed, the building becomes functional in assembly, operation, convenience, and security.
According to Malik, the following are 5 tips for the selection of the right hardware:
• Design performance
• Safety consideration • Peaceful operation and easy installation • Durability and low maintenance • Budget-friendly • Corrosion-free and water-resistant
According to Ar. Abhishek Pandit & Ar. Romit Koundinya, Co-Founders at Syzygy Architects, Mumbai, here are the five tips to choose the right architectural hardware: functionality and compatibility, quality and durability, aesthetic integration, aesthetic integration, safety and security, and maintenance and accessibility. – Functionality and compatibility, quality and durability, aesthetic integration, safety and security and maintenance and accessibility.
Ar. Amit Murao, Principal Architect and Partner, Aashray Design Consultants (ADCPL) agrees that these 5 points as the major criteria to look at while choosing hardware.
1. Functionality and Compatibility: Assess the functional requirements of the hardware and ensure compatibility with the specific doors, windows, or façades you have. Consider factors such as the weight, size, and operation of the elements. For example, heavy doors may require robust hinges and door closers, while large windows may need sturdy handles and locking mechanisms. Pattani too agrees that the hardware should also match the profile of the door or window.
Murao adds that one needs to understand the functional requirements of the hardware for doors, windows, and façades, considering aspects such as security, accessibility, ease of use, and durability. Ensure that the hardware meets the intended purpose and is compatible with the overall design. We need to ensure that the chosen hardware is compatible with the specific type of doors, windows, or façade systems being used, looking at size, weight, and operation mechanisms to ensure proper functioning and longevity. According to Kadalayil, the hardware must be suited for the building. Selecting hardware for a public building is very different from those for homes. The handles for doors and windows must be in proportion to the size of the shutter. The ergonomics of the exposed hardware needs to be taken into consideration.
2. Quality and Durability: Invest in high-quality hardware that can withstand regular use and environmental conditions. Look for reputable brands and materials that are known for their durability, such as stainless steel, brass, or aluminium. Consider factors like corrosion resistance, UV stability, and weatherproofing to ensure longevity. It is better to opt for hardware from reputable manufacturers known for producing high-quality products, suggests Murao. Check for certifications, warranties, and customer reviews to ensure reliability and durability. Quality hardware will withstand regular usage and environmental conditions. Today, quality is judged by the brand name and the reputation it has in the market. Kadalayil observes that most functional hardware like hinges, door closers, door stoppers, etc., come with a performance rating. The weight of the shutter plays an important role in deciding the type of hardware. It is important to understand the durability as well as the security that the hardware can provide. Reputed companies subject their hardware to rigorous tests. The hardware should be made of durable & corrosion-resistant materials that can withstand the environment in which they are supposed to operate. For example, stainless steel is a hard-wearing and low-maintenance material that can resist dents and scratches, while bronze is an aesthetically pleasing material that develops a patina over time, adds Pattani.
3. Aesthetic Integration: Pay attention to the visual appeal and overall design of the architectural hardware. Hardware should complement the style and aesthetics of the building or space. The finish of the hardware should also complement the design and style of the door or window. Whether you’re aiming for a modern, minimalist look or a traditional, ornate design, choose hardware that enhances the overall visual impact. Talking about aesthetics, Murao adds that paying attention to the visual appeal of the hardware is essential and it should complement the architectural style and design language of the project. Consider finishes, colours, and materials that enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the doors, windows, and façades, he says.
4. Safety and Security: Ensure that the chosen hardware provides adequate safety and security features. For doors, consider locks, deadbolts, and access control systems that meet the desired level of security. Windows should have robust locking mechanisms and options for ventilation control. Pay attention to fire safety requirements and compliance with relevant building codes.
5. Maintenance and Accessibility: Evaluate the ease of maintenance and accessibility of the hardware repairs or replacements. Opt for hardware that is easy to clean, repair, and replace if needed. Consider factors like accessibility for people with disabilities, such as lever handles or automatic door openers that meet accessibility standards.
Additional aspects to consider for doors, windows, and façades:
• Energy Efficiency: Choose hardware that contributes to the overall energy efficiency of the building. Look for options that minimise air leakage, improve insulation, and support the performance of energy-efficient doors and windows.
• Acoustic Performance: If noise reduction is a concern, select hardware that can help improve acoustic insulation. This includes seals, gaskets, and soundproofing features for doors and windows.
• Sustainability: Consider hardware that aligns with sustainable practices. Look for products made from recycled materials or those that can be easily recycled at the end of their lifespan. Also, consider hardware with low environmental impact during the manufacturing process.
• Regulations and Standards: Ensure that the chosen hardware complies with relevant building regulations, standards, and certifications. This includes fire safety, accessibility, and structural requirements.The hardware should meet stringent standards of performance, reliability and safety. For example, fire-rated doors and windows may need fire-resistant hardware that can prevent the spread of flames and smoke. The hardware should also have relevant certifications from recognised authorities or organisations that attest to their quality and compliance.
• Supplier Support and Warranty: Choose hardware from suppliers or manufacturers who provide reliable support, documentation, and warranty. This will ensure assistance in case of any issues or need for replacements.
• Consider the cost and value of the hardware: The hardware should offer value for money without compromising on function, durability, or design. The cost of the hardware should be within the budget of the project and reflect its quality and features. The hardware should also have a long service life and low maintenance requirements that can reduce the overall cost of ownership.
Latest Trends in The Facade, Door and Window Hardware Products
Being the backbone of the door/ window system or façade, hardware is the most critical factor for its functionality. However, it must integrate with the current design trends in the industry.
Talking about the trends, Nalawade says, “Long span windows, seamless or thin sections, hidden sash frames, least visual interruptions, ease at operations, hidden tracks and the list goes on at design with case-specific needs. The design wish list becomes redundant without thoughtful hardware to support the facet. Visible sections include hinges, locking systems, access-controlled features, tracks (simply supported, one side connect, etc.), drain channels, gutter details, strengthening members, extendable sections, fixing channels, cleats, fixings angles, screws and bolts, Allen or Hex key operated sets, etc. These BEHIND THE SCREEN members become one of the reasons for the successful installation or design of any façade or operable installation like doors or windows.
On the latest trends in hardware, Malik points to the increased use of concealed hardware fittings that provide much-needed functionality and yet do not interfere with the design and aesthetics. And where the hardware is being exposed, the use of attractive finishes, clean lines, and minimalistic designs is a clear preference over large, bulky, and industrial-looking hardware. For Locking and security systems, the trend is moving more towards digital, keyless and advanced integrated systems, adds Malik.
Let’s have a look at the latest features one looks for while choosing Hardware, which can be reflected as the latest trends:
• Minimalist Designs: Minimalism continues to be a popular trend in architectural design, and hardware is no exception. Clean lines, sleek profiles, and concealed fixings are sought after, allowing the hardware to blend seamlessly with the overall aesthetic of the building. Minimalist hardware often features slim handles, concealed hinges, and discreet locking mechanisms.
Ultra-sleek window and door frames that are strong and yet look very thin are in vogue now. Incorporating such windows and doors aids in enhancing the minimalist design of a building. The success of the operation of the doors and windows lies in the quality of the hardware.Better-designed hardware like concealed hinges and weather stripping are also aspects that are being adopted in the upper end of the market. Frameless doors (where frames are concealed within the wall) are becoming a trend.
• Integrated Technology: With the rise of smart homes & automation, there is an increasing demand for integrated technology in door and window hardware. This includes features like keyless entry systems, fingerprint or facial recognition access, and remote control functionality. Such technologies enhance security, convenience, and energy efficiency. Ar. Murao adds that smart hardware systems with features such as remote control, biometrics, and automation are becoming increasingly popular.
• Sustainable Materials: Manufacturers are exploring options like recycled metals, responsibly sourced wood, and low-impact coatings, and there is a growing demand for hardware made from sustainable materials. Sustainable hardware, made of recycled metals and environmentally friendly coatings, aims to reduce the environmental footprint without compromising on quality or aesthetics.
• Energy Efficiency and Thermal Performance: Energy-efficient doors and windows are crucial for optimising a building’s thermal performance by improving insulation & reducing air leakage. This includes high-performance sealing systems, thermally broken profiles, & hardware that enhances the energy efficiency of fenestration systems.
• Customisation & Personalisation: Building owners and architects are increasingly seeking unique and customised hardware solutions to add a distinctive touch to their projects. Hardware manufacturers are offering a wide range of finishes, colours, and materials to meet these demands. Customisable options allow for tailored designs that align with the project’s specific style and branding.
The range of colours and finishes is another aspect that has helped in enhancing aesthetics in a big way.
• Acoustic Insulation: Noise pollution is a growing concern in urban environments. As a result, there is a rising demand for door and window hardware that improves acoustic insulation. Manufacturers are developing hardware solutions with enhanced sealing systems, acoustic gaskets, and soundproofing materials to minimise noise transmission.
• Health and Safety Features: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased attention to health and safety considerations in building design. Hardware products are being developed with features that promote touchless operation, antimicrobial surfaces, and easy cleaning and disinfection. These elements contribute to improved hygiene and occupant well-being.
• Smart Glass Integration: Smart glass technologies, such as electrochromic or thermochromic glass, are gaining popularity in modern buildings. Hardware manufacturers are adapting their products to integrate with these technologies, allowing for seamless operation and control of smart glass windows and façades.
• Ultra-sleek window and door frames that are strong and yet look very thin are in vogue now. Incorporating such windows and doors aids in enhancing the minimalist design of a building. The success of the operation of the doors and windows lies in the quality of the hardware.
• The range of colours and finishes is another aspect that has helped in enhancing aesthetics in a big way.
• Better-designed hardware like concealed hinges and weather stripping are also aspects that are being adopted in the upper end of the market.
• Frameless doors (where frames are concealed within the wall) are becoming a trend.
Trends in Hardware Considering Tone and Finish
1. Satin finish: This is a subtle and low-maintenance finish that resists fingerprint marks and smudges. It suits contemporary interiors and is durable and easy to maintain.
2. Matte black: This is a bold and luxurious finish that adds contrast and drama to modern interiors. Matte black door hardware can complement natural wood finishes and other black details in furniture and décor.
3. Chrome polish: This is a neutral and timeless finish that can match many other household furniture and furnishings. Chrome polish can be either reflective or smooth, depending on the desired effect. It offers a sense of continuity and harmony in the interior design.
4. Dual-tone or two-tone hardware: This is a trend that combines two different finishes or colours in one hardware piece, such as satin chrome and polished chrome, or matte black and brass. This creates a unique and eye-catching look that can enhance the style and personality of the door or window.
5. Antique brass or aged brass: This is a trend that brings back the charm and warmth of vintage hardware, with a patina that adds character and depth. Antique brass or aged brass hardware can create a rustic or retro feel in the interior, especially when paired with wooden doors or windows.
6. Intelligent and refined hardware: This is a trend that incorporates technology and innovation into hardware design, such as smart locks, sensors, biometrics, automation, etc. Intelligent and refined hardware can improve the security, convenience, comfort, and efficiency of doors and windows.
(Harikrushna Pattani, Founder & Principal Designer, Harikrushna Pattani & Associates)
Standardising and Certifying The Hardware Products
Design is a non-standard element and the same goes for the façade of any project (with systems that are standard though!). Hardware, however, can be effectively standardised, says Nalawade. There is a need for standardising hardware products and certifying them in the architectural industry, say Pandit & Koundinya. Standardisation ensures that hardware products meet specific criteria related to quality, performance, safety, compatibility, consistency and reliability, adds Murao. Certifications assure architects, builders, and consumers that the hardware has been tested and meets established industry standards.
Standardisation, especially for quality and performance, is a sign of a matured industry. A common platform of standards will aid customers to choose the right product. It will also be of great service to the manufacturers who are then able to assure quality based on technical standards.
Standardisation can be done based on the possible permutations & combinations to fulfil the maximum needs of the façade on a larger canvas. It does involve developing a special profile for unique projects at times. Standardisation in hardware can be primarily considered with industry standards, product certifications, testing & evaluation, code compliance, quality assurance, interoperability and compatibility, documentation, and traceability. In addition, it is paramount to make ease of availability in case of maintenance during the life span of the product, observes Nalawade.
To check the quality of hardware installed on façades, doors, and windows, the following steps can be taken, points out Pandit & Koundinya:
• Verify Compliance: Ensure that the installed hardware meets the specified standards & certifications. Check if the hardware has relevant markings, labels, or documentation indicating compliance with the required standards.
• Visual Inspection: Conduct a visual inspection of the hardware to identify any visible defects, damage, or signs of wear. Look for signs of corrosion, loose screws or fasteners, misalignment, or any other issues that may affect functionality or durability.
• Functionality Testing: Test the hardware’s functionality to ensure proper operation. Open and close doors and windows to check if the hardware functions smoothly and securely. Test locking mechanisms, handles, hinges, and any other moving parts to ensure they are in good working condition.
• Safety and Security Assessment: Evaluate the hardware’s safety and security features. Check if locks, latches, and other security components function as intended. Assess if the hardware meets fire safety requirements and provides adequate protection against unauthorised access.
• Performance Evaluation: Consider the performance of the hardware in relation to the specific requirements of the project. This may include factors such as noise reduction, energy efficiency, weather sealing, and structural integrity. Assess if the installed hardware performs as expected and meets the desired performance standards.
According to Ar. Murao, Certification programs help architects, builders, and consumers in making informed decisions. To check the quality of hardware installed on façades, doors, and windows, architects can:
• Specify products from reputable manufacturers with a track record of producing high-quality hardware.
• Review product certifications and test reports to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.
• Conduct site visits during construction to inspect the installation and functioning of the hardware firsthand.
• Seek recommendations from industry professionals or consult with hardware specialists to ensure the chosen hardware meets the desired quality standards.
When do we have to Change/Replace Architectural Hardware?
• Wear and Tear: Over time, hardware components can experience wear and tear due to regular use, exposure to the elements, or environmental factors. Signs of wear may include rust, corrosion, loose screws, hinges that don’t operate smoothly, or handles that are difficult to turn. If hardware components are no longer functioning properly, it may be time to replace them.
• Style and Design Updates: If you’re renovating or updating the aesthetics of a building, you might consider replacing architectural hardware to align with the new style or design. This can include changing the finish, shape, or material of handles, hinges, locks, or other visible hardware elements to achieve a desired look or match the updated interior or exterior design. Advancements in hardware technology may render older hardware obsolete. We need to upgrade them to newer, more efficient options that can improve performance and functionality.
• Security Upgrades: If the existing hardware no longer meets safety codes or regulatory requirements, replacement is necessary to ensure compliance. Security requirements can evolve over time, and it may be necessary to upgrade hardware to enhance the security of doors, windows, and access points. This could involve replacing outdated or vulnerable locks, adding electronic access control systems, or upgrading to more robust and tamper-resistant hardware.
• Code Compliance: Building codes and regulations are subject to updates and changes. If your building undergoes inspections or renovations, it may be necessary to replace hardware that no longer meets the updated code requirements. This could include changes related to fire safety, accessibility, or other building standards.
• Technology Advancements: As technology progresses, new hardware solutions and features become available that can enhance the functionality, convenience, or energy efficiency of architectural elements. If you want to incorporate new technologies, such as smart locks, automated systems, or energy-efficient hardware, it may require replacing existing hardware with compatible and up-to-date options.
• End of Life or Obsolescence: Like any product, architectural hardware has a lifespan. Over time, manufacturers may discontinue certain models or components, making it difficult to find replacement parts. If hardware becomes obsolete or is no longer available, replacement may be necessary to ensure continued operability and maintenance of the building’s elements.
Hardware for Future – Advancements in Designs, Materials & Technologies
The future of hardware in architecture is subject to innovation and technological advancements. The actual development and adoption of these trends will depend on factors such as technological feasibility, market demand, cost-effectiveness, and regulatory considerations. At the pace at which the world is heading towards technology, the hardware industry has a great canvas to explore.
Every day Innovation is taking place in the façade industry. With these emerging façade trends, hardware too gets its role widened through a futuristic approach under considerations of smart and connected hardware, adaptive and responsive hardware, self-healing and maintenance-free hardware, biometric and gesture-driven hardware, 3d-printed hardware, sustainable and recyclable hardware.
Kadayil says, “I would love to see more automation connected with sun shading being incorporated into façades. Automated shading with metal louvers on the exterior façade which will open and close based on the sun’s movement to optimise daylight while reducing the amount of heat gain can go a long way in energy conservation in buildings. There are such buildings that have been built in some locations globally. Greater investment is required in the R&D of such products that can then be mainstreamed into the market. The thermal performance of façades and windows is also an important aspect that needs to be standardized. Good hardware like weather stripping and thermal breaks need to be mainstreamed by window manufacturers”. In the future, architectural hardware is expected to undergo significant advancements and embrace innovative trends.
Here are some possible trends and advancements that we might see in architecture hardware by 2030:
• Smart and Connected Hardware: Integration of smart technology into architectural hardware could revolutionise functionality, convenience, and security. Imagine hardware components that seamlessly connect to building automation systems, allowing for remote control, monitoring, and customisation. This could include intelligent access control, automated opening and closing mechanisms, and real-time data feedback for maintenance and energy management, says Pandit & Koundinya.
The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technology will enable smart and connected hardware systems. Doors, windows, and façades will be equipped with sensors, actuators, and communication modules, allowing for automated control, remote monitoring, and improved energy efficiency, adds Ar. Murao.
• Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Materials: With a growing focus on sustainability, hardware made from eco-friendly materials and utilising renewable energy sources could become more prevalent. Innovations in material science may lead to the development of new, environmentally friendly options that have reduced carbon footprints, enhanced recyclability, and improved energy efficiency.
Hardware systems will incorporate energy-harvesting technologies to generate power from the surrounding environment. This can include utilising solar, kinetic, or thermal energy to power sensors, actuators, and smart features.
• Biometric & Personalised Access: Biometric technology, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, could be integrated into architectural hardware for enhanced security and to provide seamless access control for users. It can include utilizing solar, kinetic, or thermal energy to power sensors, actuators, and smart features. Personalised access systems could recognise individuals and adjust settings accordingly, providing customised experiences within buildings.
• Energy Harvesting and Efficiency: Advancements in energy harvesting technology could enable hardware components to generate power from the environment, reducing the reliance on traditional energy sources. Energy-efficient hardware, including self-powered sensors, actuators, and energy recovery systems, could contribute to overall energy efficiency in buildings.
• Adaptive, Responsive & Shapec Memory Hardware: Future hardware will be capable of adapting and responding to changing environmental conditions. For example, windows and façades might have dynamic shading systems that automatically adjust to optimise natural light and thermal comfort.
Imagine hardware components that can adapt and change their shape or configuration based on environmental conditions or user preferences. Shape-memory alloys or materials with shape-shifting properties could allow for dynamic adjustments, optimising ventilation, shading, or insulation based on changing needs.
• Multi-Functional Hardware: Hardware that serves multiple purposes and adapts to various scenarios could provide flexibility and optimise space utilisation. For example, hardware components with built-in sensors, lighting elements, or display capabilities could provide additional functionalities without compromising aesthetics.
• Enhanced Durability and Maintenance: Future hardware could incorporate self-diagnostic features and predictive maintenance capabilities. Sensors and monitoring systems could detect issues or wear in advance, allowing for proactive maintenance and minimising potential failures. Additionally, self-cleaning or self-healing coatings could improve the durability and longevity of hardware components.
• Augmented Reality (AR) Integration: AR technology could be used to visualise and simulate the placement and functionality of hardware components before installation. This would aid architects, designers, and builders in making informed decisions and optimising the hardware’s integration with the overall building design. This technology will assist in design decision-making and provide a more immersive understanding of how the hardware will look and function in the built environment.
• Advanced Security Features: With increasing security concerns, architectural hardware will incorporate advanced security features such as advanced locking mechanisms, intrusion detection systems, and anti-tampering technologies to enhance the safety of buildings.
• 3D Printing and Customisation: 3D printing technology will revolutionise the production of architectural hardware, allowing for intricate designs and customization options. Architects will have the freedom to create unique and personalized hardware solutions tailored to their specific project requirements.
As technology continues to evolve, architectural hardware will play a crucial role in enhancing the functionality, sustainability, and aesthetics of buildings. The hardware that is currently used in façade, door and windows are based more on functionality, durability and safety rather than on the aesthetic look alone. Good quality hardware enhances the functionality of any door or window and adds to the aesthetics. There are some key cross-checks you can perform in order to judge the quality and appropriateness of the installations before the handover. These checks will include the overall aesthetics of the installation, the performance & lifespan of the operation, material quality checks, etc.