Gateway Gazette

SAIT: Frame Like a Pro

 

SAIT helps to revolutionize the way door frames are constructed

by Julie Sengl

Framing a door opening is harder than it should be. There’s little room for error. If the rough opening is not exactly right (that is, straight, properly sized and square), the intended door won’t fit. And when a door doesn’t fit, what you’ve got is a hole in the wall.

Entrepreneur Patrick Watson (left) and Joshua Brouwers (right) from SAIT Green Building Technology research initiative worked with local homebuilders to test Watson's innovative precision-manufactured rough opening frame for interior doors. (SAIT)
Entrepreneur Patrick Watson (left) and Joshua Brouwers (right) from SAIT Green Building Technology research initiative worked with local homebuilders to test Watson’s innovative precision-manufactured rough opening frame for interior doors. (SAIT)

When Patrick Watson approached SAIT with his prototype for the P.R.O. (precision-manufactured rough opening) FRAME for interior doors, he didn’t know exactly what kind of help he’d need to get his idea ready for market. All he knew for sure was the building industry needed a way to frame door openings more accurately and with more consistency — and that he had come up with an innovative solution.

During his work as a journeyman carpenter in the Calgary area, Watson has installed thousands of doors. But he’d grown weary of having to repeatedly fix shoddy framing before he could do his job. “It’s a combination of inefficient workmanship and imperfect building materials that’s the problem,” says Watson. “A door frame takes on the shape of the lumber it’s made from, and two by fours can be twisted, bowed or crowned.” That’s not good when you need your edges straight and your corners square.

Watson’s P.R.O. FRAME is constructed of plywood, which is always straight. Solid two by four blocking provides added strength and support. Individual units are pre-sized so there’s no measuring or cutting required, which means no mistakes at the job site and no waste. Technically, installation is straightforward and the results are consistent.

It’s all good in theory, but Watson needed SAIT’s help to establish the value of his product in the industry. Partnerships with industry are core to SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services operations, and Green Building Technologies’ researcher Joshua Brouwers (AT ’12) had no problem lining up four local homebuilders who each agreed to use P.R.O. FRAME units throughout one of their residential construction projects, and to report back on everything from performance to a recommended price point.

“We’re surveying the framers, drywallers, finish carpenters, site superintendents and project managers to get everyone’s feedback on the product,” says Brouwers. “It’ll still be a couple of months before we have all the results, but so far the feedback has been very positive.”

Time will tell, but it looks like P.R.O. FRAME’s success may well be an open and shut case.

(Southern Alberta Institute of Technology)

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