Access doors are necessary for your buildings, as they help protect vital equipment and utilities that support your day-to-day operations. Electrical wires, gas lines, internet connectivity, and HVAC ducts are just some of the basic amenities you would expect in a modern building.
Ordinarily, these utilities and access doors would remain protected in the confines of your structure. However, what if you needed to route these on the outside? You need the best weather-resistant access panel. In this case, you would also need an access door durable enough to withstand the outdoor elements.
The Characteristics Of Weather-Resistant Access Panels
Before diving into the specifics of choosing your perfect weather-resistant access panel, it’s essential to understand the basic features of said access panel over more conventional options that can help you choose the one that will work for you.
#1. Insulation and R-Value
When you have an access door constantly exposed to the elements, you ideally want to have the utilities protected from the heat and cold. Exterior access doors often have insulation attached to the door and frame to separate the utilities from the outside thermally.
Gauging the efficacy of insulation over another is easy if you have information on its R-value. Sometimes, your utilities may be sensitive to temperature changes, and you want better protection. In this case, you want access doors with higher R-values, which equals better resistance to heat flow. Higher-rated insulation also comes with added cost, so it’s also necessary to balance performance with price.
Another element that weather-resistant access panels have are gasket seals specifically designed to handle outdoor environments. These gaskets are responsible for preventing air and water infiltration. This quality is significant for exterior access doors as they will experience rain and snow. If you have this access door installed near a coastal zone, you want to prevent the entry of sea salt that could potentially wreak havoc on your utilities.
With these access doors installed outside, you may also have to protect your utilities from unauthorized personnel. If you install this access door in a protected area, the standard latches would most likely be enough. But when it comes to security, it’s ideal for you to create layers of deterrents so that your building isn’t an easy target for potential criminals. Exterior access doors come with provisions to install either a mortise or a rim cylinder lock, and the manufacturer can have these installed right out of the box, or you can even attach your own if you need to.
Selecting The Material
Now comes the primary choice for selecting an exterior-ready access panel — Do you choose aluminum or stainless steel?
#1. Aluminum Exterior Access Panels
One of your first go-to materials for outdoor access doors is aluminum. Aluminum is highly resistant to corrosion since when you expose it to the atmosphere, it almost instantly forms a layer of aluminum oxide that is transparent, colorless, and, more importantly, extremely hard to protect aluminum from further corrosion. Thanks to modern manufacturing, aluminum is also more affordable compared to stainless steel. If this sounds like the perfect combination, you should get an aluminum weather-resistant insulated access panel.
#2. Stainless Steel Exterior Access Panels
There is no beating stainless steel for heavy-duty applications where you expect a lot of physical stress on the access door. What makes stainless steel resistant to corrosion is the inclusion of chromium. It increases the strength of the steel and forms a layer of Chromium Oxide that prevents corrosion and gives stainless steel its shiny look. Stainless steel is often the more expensive option, but you benefit from an added level of protection compared to choosing aluminum.
#3. Choosing A Reputable Partner
When you want the best protection from your utilities, you must choose an access door provider that gives you quality options. While more expensive, you can rely on this access door to protect your utilities for a long time. These providers even have customization options that many other access door providers can’t beat. Because of this, it’s necessary to do your research to find the best access door provider for you.