Kev Wallis is technical sales manager for Lincoln based fabricator, Sternfenster, where he has been an integral part of the team for 40 years. Kev works across all areas of Sternfenster’s operations, from customer services to manufacturing, and spends a significant part of his day working side-by-side with customers to solve technical and training issues. Here, Kev offers his top tips for fitting bi-folds…
When I was asked to come up with my top technical tips for installers, one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer can be summed up in four simple letters: RTFM. Or in other words: read the f*****g manual!
Most fitters are men and we are programmed, genetically, to not read instructions. This applies to DIY at home as much as it does to fitting on site. How many men reading this have put up flat pack furniture without looking at the instructions with a ‘how hard can it be, I’ll just work it out’ attitude, only to find themselves with a wonky wardrobe and a load of left-over nuts and bolts for their efforts? I guarantee it’s pretty much all of you!
The same applies when installing windows and doors. I was called out to site once, because the customer was complaining that the bi-fold doors he had ordered from us were not working properly. He was absolutely adamant that he’d done it properly and was pointing the finger at us for supplying a defective product. It turns out, that he had fitted the doors upside down – with the rollers at the top! This is an extreme example, but it goes to show that life is a lot easier when you read the instructions. All our doors are tested and subject to strict quality control before they go out – and they come complete with an easy to understand installation guide…
On the subject of aluminium bi-folds, this is one of the most common products for technical issues. I should point out, that’s it’s very rare for it to be a problem with our doors! In fact, with the investment we have made in our aluminium factory, which includes six-figures on a Schirmer machining centre and four head crimper from FOM, the quality – and the volume – of product, has never been higher.
More often than not, with a bi-fold, issues arise because fitters don’t check their levels properly. I’ve seen installers who have been in the trade for 30-years and they still make simple mistakes like this.
It’s a vital step no matter the size of the bi-fold but for anything over 3m, it’s imperative that you use a laser or a 6ft level to make sure everything is plumb and level.
If you don’t, then you run the risk of a sag in the head, or a bump in the cill and the door will not operate properly. It could pull the gaskets out when you open and close it and it’s a time consuming, and therefore costly mistake to put right.
There’s an old proverb ‘measure twice and cut once’. That might have originated from the carpentry trade but the message still applies here. Prepare properly, take time to do your levels, and you’ll save yourself time and money in the long run.
Don’t forget that we have put together a wealth of training material at Sternfenster. This can be downloaded for free via our Sternfenster Plus portal and includes video tutorials on how to fit all our products properly. Sternfenster Plus also includes downloadable data sheets and marketing material, and a regularly updated news feed. It even has a live production capacity feed of our PVC and aluminium lines, that allows you to check on the capacity of all our products, from the minute you place an order. You can also use Sternfenster Plus to check on order and delivery updates – that makes it easier for us to manage your expectations, and it’s perfect for keeping homeowner customer’s updated on when to expect their new windows and doors as well!