“Build me an eye-capturing piece.” The 6 metre tall sliding door.
A simple request, it seemed. 400kg of glass…and a 6m tall frame later, the world’s largest uPVC doors were built.
It all started in a tiny meeting room. What is eye capturing? The gears in our heads were turning furiously.
How about a colourful stained glass, like an Italian Cathedral?
Or a uniquely shaped window?
Let’s go big. Really big. I mean, MASSIVE!
Bingo. Let’s do it.
The Planning Process
That next day, we got right to work. In consultation with a professional engineer, we measured the dimensions, carried out stress testing and calculated all the crucial pressure points to determine if this sliding door would hold up.
Doing the math on our 3D sotftware, it was absolutely crucial that every single measurement was calibrated perfectly. When it comes to engineering, there is no margin for error. All alignments had to be exact; all positionings, precise; all parts, balanced.
We designed a mock up sample in our factory to gauge how this massive window would look like in real life. And then we brought the sample to the site to carry out our routine surveys and measurements.
So far so good. Everything seemed perfect.
Then it hit us.
We didn’t have the materials for such a huge project. It was a logistical nightmare. Honestly, it was just overwhelming. But we couldn’t let our client down.
Customisation Is Critical
When installing windows, a consideration to note is whether or not your existing windows are structurally secure, as this has the potential to significantly affect the entire installation process. The surrounding structural supports give the door and window its strength, so it is important to have the necessary supports in place, so your doors/windows will be more study, and in turn, last longer.
In this case, uPVC, just like aluminium, isn’t known to be a load-bearing material. And because the window is supposed to stretch from the floor to the second storey ceiling, we had to add in reinforcements.
Poor installation practices would lead to the entire door collapsing. We definitely didn’t want that.
Since the glass panel weighed 400kilos, we used 600kilos of load bearing rollers to ensure smooth operation of the doors. It might’ve been a little over the top, but we wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any problems in the long run. Here’s how we reinforced it…
Lintels (galvanised steel beams) are structural supports used to attach doors and windows to the wall. They are placed horizontally above the openings of doors or windows in buildings to support the load from door. Since the strength of a door/window comes from its lintel, we had to ensure the lintels we built were sturdy enough to support the entire weight of the door, and specially customise one large enough to support the weight.
2. Glass and frame
At such heights, glass strength is crucial. Firstly, the glass had to be laminated. This means that a safety film is sandwiched between two pieces of glass. This feature holds the glass together in case of breakage, so you wouldn’t have six metres of glass crashing down on you when the glass breaks.
Next, the glass had to be tempered. Tempering the glass gives it approximately four times the strength of normal float glass. It is essential to have a strong piece of glass on both sides of the laminate film to ensure the glass would not break so easily upon impact as well as daily usage of the door.
Lastly, the frames had to have thick steel reinforcements running through them. This gives the doors their much needed rigidity and strength.
3. Water drainage
Have you ever noticed your home “flooding” during heavy rains and the floor of your house getting wet?
That’s because your windows tracks were overflowing.
During torrential downpours, rainwater hits the glass and cascades to the base. Usually, the tracks will drain the rainwater as fast as it is collected, so there will not be water overflowing into your home. But for a six metre tall door, that is six metres of surface area catching rainwater and filling the bottom tracks! Something additional we needed to account for.
To prevent this from happening, the doors needed to be installed with much larger water drainage channels to release the trapped water. The base also had to be slanted on a gradient to allow water to flow away from the house. This ensured that the tracks would not be flooded by the heavy rain.
Remember, proper water drainage is essential to the longevity and performance of your windows. Ensuring that as little water as possible gets into your home will prevent damage to your house interior, and save you a ton of money in the long run.
This truly is pitting technology against nature!
Next in the customisation line came the wheels, the door handles, the screws, the latches, the locksets…
Simply put, the standard accessories would not hold up on a six metre high door because the wear and tear will be too great. We needed something stronger to take the weight of the door, and more durable to stand the test of time.
Day and night, we contacted our German counterparts to help us custom build these accessories (yes most of our hardware is German-made and rigorously tested). While some of us were handling all these backend and liaising works, our front-end team was hard at work too.
Training The Team
At Sapphire Windows, we take training very seriously. We enforce discipline and expect the highest quality workmanship from our installers.
Usually, team trainings are conducted every week, to ensure everyone is on top of their game. For this project, we ramped up the training frequency.
The team assigned to this project went through multiple simulations for what they would do on-site. One experienced team lead, and nine other members suited up. They role-played with scaffolding, harnesses, machinery, mounting and levelling the frames.
They even practiced hoisting the glass up, bringing it back down, flipping it and maneuvering it in tight spaces.
Just imagine yourself hanging from a rope, more than 6m above the ground. Or yourself on the ground supporting almost 400kg of glass and frame, trying to align it on a base track.
Each team member had to know exactly what to do, and what not to do, because one small blunder could mean disaster.
Within a few weeks, the team was confident to make things happen.
It was the day of the installation.
Police escort alongside our flatbed trailer was required to transport these large slabs of glass, its chunky frame and extended reinforcement beams. This was in accordance with safety protocols on the roads of Singapore.
Can you imagine the size of this glass now?
At the site, cranes were rolled out, scaffoldings were propped up, harnesses and safety belts were attached. The team was ready for action.
That said, even though the team was trained, it was still an uphill battle. Because the window was so heavy, it was difficult to get the alignment right. Using suction cups to balance themselves mid-air, the team had to make multiple adjustments.
This time, the roller was an issue. It couldn’t sit tight in the track. If the roller wasn’t set right, the windows will be misaligned and there’ll be a gap when closed.
The entire installation works ended up taking almost one whole day.
Alas, at 5.35pm, our client had the honour of removing the protection tape on the glass. The 2-storey high window sparkled in the warm glow of the orange evening sun.
It was breathtaking!
We had done something uPVC has never accomplished before. Sapphire Windows changed the course of history.
Today, Sapphire Windows is a leading window and door system specialist, renowned for its quality, workmanship and customer service. Driven by the company’s motto “Do it Once, Do it Proud”, we offer both innovative and timeless design solutions for every home.
Proper installation and maintenance of your windows are essential for optimum product performance and operation. Every installation is different, as with every home has a different need. We strongly recommend consultation with the local window specialist or an experienced contractor, interior designer or architect prior to the installation of your home’s windows.
Talk to us and see how we can help make your home so beautiful that your neighbours will wish they lived in your home.