OK, two things to clarify before I start. First, that is indeed my garbage letter box on my own front door. Second, in this post about the sorry state of hardware, I cannot claim to have thought of using the word “pitiful” for the title of this post.
But yes, this post is about the very sorry state of hardware. The industry is very much aware that when it comes to hardware, specifically pitting, the state of handles and letter boxes is poor. And before people start talking about stainless, the clue is in the name. It doesn’t say stain-proof.
Brisant Secure, makers of Ultion and LockLock, have been doing a bit of market research to gauge how the industry really feels about the state of hardware. As the title of this post suggests, it’s pitiful.
In a question to installers, of which 270 replied, a depressing 88% have reported that they have had pitting problems on their hardware in the past 12 months. In a second question, they asked installers if they were happy in how their suppliers were handling the pitting problems. A measly 22.5% in reply said they were happy. Meaning a whopping 77.5% are not happy with their suppliers.
Pitiful is one word to describe it. Woeful. Appalling. Embarrassing. Shameful. All words I would use to describe the state of the hardware environment right now. I’m not sure if any sort of survey like this has been done before, but if this is the first, then this is a seriously low bar from which to start. And should be a major wake-up call for the whole industry to start taking this issue more seriously.
As I said, that is my letter box on my own front door that is in the featured image. In a door that I have had for just a little over four years, that is the second letter box I have gone through. I have also gone through two door handles. Both are Dark Chrome. The first set failed after less than a year. I had them swapped, and within months they were pitting again. I don’t live next to a busy road, I’m on a cul-de-sac. I’m in a village, nowhere close to any high air pollution areas. Yet, two sets of door hardware in, it still happens. The only reason why I have not changed them is I’m waiting for a pit-proof option to come to market.
But consider this. It was pointed out to me that the furthest human settlement in the UK from the sea is a town called Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire, which is only 70 miles from the coast. That means everyone else is closer than that to a very salty environment. So, taking this into account, when we think that our own atmosphere isn’t that harsh, that cannot be strictly true, considering how close we all actually are to the ocean. Is it not now time to take this seriously?
Taking the shine off
We’re at the higher end of our market at our place. We can sell even a fairly basic composite door from £1300, with some single door models going for well over £2000. More when you add top lights and side lights. Even more when you add various hardware options. So you can understand the expectations a home owner will have of their product that they are investing a lot of money in.
Imagine the disappointment caused when after what is most likely the most expensive door they will ever purchase starts to look tatty after a few short months because their door knocker, letter box and door handles are all starting to pit. It literally takes the shine off both the product and the buying experience. Yes there is a guarantee on the product, but as installers we never really want to go back out to a job for something as juvenile as this.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, the current 240 and 480 hour salt spray tests are utterly meaningless. Yes, they’re supposed to represent an accelerated ageing process, but how long is that acceleration supposed to be? How as an industry can we, with pride, go to the home owner with a premium price tag for a premium door and then say that they will be lucky if their letter box is going to look new for just a matter of weeks? Thanks to the LockLock handle and it’s seemingly un-pittable coating, those tests look even more farcical now.
If and when a company brings to market an affordable, stylish range of door hardware that can prove that it won’t pit, they will find that installers and fabricators will come knocking in large numbers. The hardware industry is ripe for a good shake up. It needs one, desperately, to rid itself of a swathe of terrible door hardware that doesn’t deserve to be fitted to the doors themselves.
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