The two basic functions of shutters (doors and windows) are security and privacy. Other reasons like décor, keeping up with trends and so on are further down the list. While this might sound too obvious to even mention, considering it during construction is the key to saving lots of money.
More than half of the construction cost of an average bungalow goes to the finishing phase. The lions share of that cost typically ends up in procuring shutters, according to Cissy Namaganda of Cinam Properties, a property trading company in Kampala.
Thus, saving money on shutters could mean the difference between finishing your long-awaited house on time or spending an extra year as a disgruntled tenant. Probably more. Most people end up overspending on construction. This is usually because of poor planning in one or two areas of the project according to experts in the construction business. One of those is the area of doors and windows.
It is therefore important to make lengthy considerations about the area of construction.
Consider security for instance. Other than the front and back door on the house, the rest of the doors inside the house have very little to do with security. Or at least that should be the case in normal circumstances. Imagining inside doors as security doors will lead you to overspend on constituent materials and (very likely) take focus away from the real security doors. Having this in mind will help you allocate the right amount of money to the doors that gain access into the house, even if it means cutting on the budget of the inside doors.
According to Aiden Mutebi, an expert in shutters, a security door must be made out of steel. Steel is the real burglar-proof. Not Iron or wood. But steel.
He says: “Steel provides the best security. With the right burglar-proofing and design, you will keep intruders at bay. It is not advisable to use wood as a security door. Wood can easily be breached and it does not keep its beautiful look for long in outdoor conditions. Iron is better than wood but it not good enough.”
Security does not stop at the front and back door. All windows on the ground floor (assuming the house is storeyed) must also be given the right burglar-proofing. According to Mutebi, burglar-proofing must be made out of solid steel bars or nothing at all.
“Many people use hollow-section bars for burglar-proofing. This is usually because of two reasons; budget issues or ignorance. Hollow-section bars are dangerous because they offer a false sense of security. No security is better than false security in the end.
“It is a sign of ignorance in two areas. One, the price difference between hollow section bars and solid steel bars is very negligible. Two, most people tend not to know that anyone armed with a rudimentary pair of shears will gain entry into a hollow-section burglar-proof, and completely fail to gain entry into a solid steel bars,” Mutebi says.
Décor advantages – steel
While there is a temptation to buy finished doors and windows, or following the known paths in this area, it would be prudent to familiarise yourself with what is on offer today. There is an abundance of technology today to make possible a plethora of designs that were not possible 15 years ago. Whether in woodwork or metalwork, there are machines to turn your finest imaginations into reality. Computer-controlled cutters that are able to turn a steel sheet into an art piece to the finest detail are available today.
“A steel door give you options for aesthetics. Where wood can only go so far, steel offers endless options and goes the extra mile,” says Mutebi. “If for instance you find yourself in a situation where you prefer curved doors, wood and aluminium would not work. But steel would work well in that design.”
Some of the new front-door designs we saw during the research for this article are highly ornamented and decorative. Some are made from weaved solid steel beams while other are made from finely cut steel sheets. This helps combine aesthetics with burglar-proofing in a beautiful collaboration. All this has been made possible by new technologies.
Again, steel designs work best outdoor. The front and back door, the gate, the parapets and so on.
Décor advantages – wood
On the other hand, nothing beats wood when it comes to indoor spaces. And among all types of wood common in this country, nothing beats mahogany. It communicates good taste and permanence. It is not only aesthetically pleasant but very high quality as far as wood is concerned. It is so desirable that sometimes, other woods are airbrushed to imitate mahogany. So how will you know if what you are getting is mahogany?
“On top of personal research, one needs to hire an expert to help one in identifying the right materials. We know that most people want to do everything themselves in order to save. This, however, exposes one to risks of being cheated. For instance, not so many people know the difference between the different woods on the market,” Namaganda says.
It would be a shame to go looking for good quality wood and come home with poor quality wood having paid the price of high quality wood.
One of the best ways to get the best wooden doors is to insist on dried wood. The challenge is that more often than not, anyone selling doors by the roadside will tell you that their wood is dry. Believe them at your own risk, according to experts.
“There are machines that specialize in drying wood,” Mutebi says. “It’s very hard to look at a door and ascertain that the wood was dried first. This is where experts are needed again. Otherwise the doors will work well for three months and then start warping.”
Here is why it very important to separate privacy from security when thinking about your doors. This will help you save money by using cheaper wood options where security is not necessary. Like we noted above, so long as the front door, the back door and the windows are well burglar-proofed, bedroom doors are strictly for privacy. The master bedroom might deserve a burglar-proofed door because of several reasons. Other than that, under normal circumstances, no other bedroom needs a sturdy door.
And that is where engineered doors come in. Engineered wood is a composite material made by binding small wood particles together with adhesive. This is a cheap option that works as perfectly as doors as it works for office desks. In Uganda, engineered doors have largely been left for office spaces. Barely any office space anywhere in this country has sturdy mahogany doors. The doors in our offices are largely simple engineered wood.
But nothing to worry. Engineered wood can be made to look exactly like a mahogany in as much as design is concerned. Some are even plated with mahogany to make them stronger.
The price of doors and windows varies for various reasons. Steel is more expensive than iron. Mahogany is more expensive than eucalyptus. Dry wood is more expensive. Solid metals (iron of steel) are more expensive than hollow-section metals.
The challenge is that many people will not differentiate between mahogany and eucalyptus. Or dry mahogany from wet. The other challenge is that the average retailer on the streets of Kampala is ready to take advantage of your ignorance. That is why research is everything.
Hiring an expert on these materials should save you future regrets too.
If you don’t know how to identify steel from iron, there is no reason for you to go shopping. If you don’t know the average price range of mahogany, there is no need to go looking for mahogany.
The pricing depends on the thickness, the design and the finishes, and for the case of wood, if it has been dried or not. This price caters for the frame too, but excludes the lock and the fitting charge.
The cost range below depends on size of the door, where you buy from, and other variables.
Shs500,000 – shs700,000.
Shs200,000 - shs300,000.
China profile 350,000/meter
Italian profile $300 (about Shs1.1m)/metre
Shs1.2m – shs2m (complete and fixed)
Burglar solid steel
Shs800,000 – shs1.2m
Burglar hollow section
Shs300,000 – shs400,000
Shs250,000 – shs700,000