The 8- and 10-foot-tall entry doors that are currently gaining in popularity introduce some unique problems in regard to weather-sealing and security. Getting a good seal around the entire door frame is harder to accomplish with taller doors, paving the way for uneven settling and air leaks, as well as security concerns. The doors are also more likely to warp, but multi-point locking systems can add stability and security. Several door manufacturers -- such as Kolbe & Kolbe, Therma-Tru, Weather Shield, IWP, KML by Andersen, Masonite, and Peachtree -- offer multi-point locks on their tall entry doors.
The reason is simple, says John Kufner, market manager for North American entry door business for Therma-Tru. "To enhance the security and performance of an 8-foot product, you can gain a lot by having the door lock into the jamb at multiple points," Kufner says. But multi-point locks were originally designed for the European market, and many American homeowners find operating European-manufactured locks difficult or inconvenient, which means they are frequently not used to their potential. A handful of manufacturers, including Hoppe, Schlegel, Ashland Hardware, Truth Hardware, and G.U. Hardware, have designed multi-point locking systems specifically for the American market. To ease use, they have designed locks that operate automatically or semi-automatically. Automatic locking mechanisms engage the perimeter bolts when the door is closed, without the lever being lifted. Semi-automatic mechanisms engage the perimeter bolts when the lever is lifted.
The placement and rotation degree of the thumb-turn bolt also had to be changed. European multi-points require the thumb-turn, located below the lever, to be rotated 360 degrees to engage the deadbolt and lock the lever. Some manufacturers' market research showed them that Americans are most comfortable with the deadbolt placed above the lever, so that's where G.U., Ashland, and Truth have placed it. Hoppe, G.U., Ashland, Schlegel, and Truth have also adapted their thumb-turns for 90-degree rotation, so that at a glance the homeowner can see whether the deadbolt is engaged or not.
Door manufacturers that offer multi-points on their tall models say that, while multi-points can keep doors from settling unevenly, the doors must be hung correctly from the outset to ensure proper operation of the locks.
"When the unit is installed properly, though, the extra security and stability the lock will provide far outweighs the extra time spent installing the unit," says Lori Stevenson, marketing manager for Kolbe & Kolbe doors.