The standard number of hours in a corrosion test for UK hardware is 240 hours. Just keep that in mind.

You’re selling a high end door to a home owner. Something sexy, totally classy, upgrades everywhere. Custom colour, custom glass. The home owner’s excitement and expectations for their brand spanking new door are going through the roof. You’ve done the perfect sales pitch. Then, just ten days later, their super expensive door with all those upgrades and extras now has pitting handles and letter box.

Yes, ten days. That’s because all that 240 hours is. It may sound a lot, but think of it in the real world. That is just ten 24 hour days. You guarantee your doors for ten years. You charge top dollar for what you sell. Yet there’s a pretty good chance the door handles and letter box you sold on it will start to pit almost immediately if you live within a sniff’s distance of the coast.

So not only is the coating on the hardware starting to come off, but so too the novelty of the purchase for the home owner. The fact that pitting hardware remains a problem in 2017 boggles my mind. Yet, I think we all know there is a problem in this industry with pitting, but we’re not willing to be all that vocal about it.

240 and 480 tests are utterly pointless

Seriously, what is the point of these tests in this day and age? 240 hours gives you ten days. 480 hours gives you 20 days. Not even three weeks. Yet we sell doors to the general public that we say will last decades if looked after properly. Do we really think that this is OK? If the powers that be who set these “standards” are reading this, you need to up your game! 240 hours is not a long time and it needs to be radically upgraded.

Consider this: 64% of households live within 10 miles of a coastline in this country so I read the other day. That makes for a lot of homes. And although ten miles sounds a lot, that will be close enough for the air to hold enough salt to do some level of damage. The most inland part of the UK is Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire at just 70 miles from a coast line. We perhaps forget that we are a tiny island located in the north Atlantic ocean. Just because you can’t see the sea doesn’t mean the air around you doesn’t have some leftovers of it in there.

For our climate, our weather, our pollution levels also in bigger cities, the 240 and 480 are completely inadequate. Wondering what it should be instead? For me, thousands upon thousands of hours. At least give the test some level of credibility and reality before a product has the chance to make it to market and actually last some length of time. Right now these tests tell a home owner that their hardware is good for ten solid days then it’s all downhill from there.

So, if the tests were upgraded to thousands of hours, that’s going to require some hardware upgrades, because I don’t think there is much out there right now which could last say, 5000 hours?

DGB Features

LockLock making a mockery of the test

There is a handle out there, the LockLock handle by Brisant Secure, which is currently making the current salt spray test lengths look about as credible as an MP’s review into their own pay. Take a look at this video:

That is a LockLock handle coming out of the sprayer after more than 3000 hours straight. That video was also published a week ago. I spoke to Nick Dutton earlier on today and he’s informed me that it’s been back in since and will sail past my slightly tongue in cheek guess of 4000 hours on Linkedin as to when it might finally start to pit. I am told that indications at the moment it will easily make that mark and much further. Could we see 5000 hours? 6000? Will it actually ever pit at all?

The live timer keeping track of the handle in the salt spray booth:

Credit: Brisant Secure

I am using LockLock as an example of how well hardware can perform when it’s been built right. It is the way this handle is built that has allowed it to ruin the credibility of this test. Take a look:

Credit: Brisant Secure

What I’m wondering is, if the key to a handle lasting this long is as simple as a double layer of copper and nickel, why hasn’t this been done sooner? I know I know, costs etc. Penny pinching here and there to make sure one handle is cheaper than the other. Unfortunately, it is that attitude towards hardware manufacture that has led us to the position that we’re in now. As far as I know this is the only handle that has managed such a feat during the salt spray.

Now, go back to your sales scenario. You can now confidently go back to the home owner and say to them that the door handles you use on your doors will last a genuinely long time and stand a chance against our corrosive atmosphere. Wouldn’t it be a much easier sell, and at least one more USP to say that?

What I would hope is that after this handle finally fails, which at this rate may not happen for a long time yet, the current salt spray test standards are revised upwards and in a significant fashion. What this would do would be to bring credibility back to the test, and would also force hardware suppliers to up their game on the quality front. Yes it will cost them, but I am sure that failed products cost them more than it would be find a prevention to the problems of pitting. It would benefit installers as they might be able to retain some confidence in the product they are selling. It would benefit the home owner who could then rely on their door handles looking nice and polished for more than a couple of weeks.

I want to be clear, as far as I’m concerned the current tests are not fit for purpose. I want to see the hardware industry really grasp this problem, stop hiding behind the “costs” argument and start creating door hardware that we can all expect to last longer than a few weeks or months. LockLock has shown that it can be done, and I know there is plenty of talent and money out there to make it happen.

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