Choosing the right operable partition


Familiarity does not Guarantee Dependability

Before you specify or choose an operable wall supplier you should first decide what is important to you long term. Too many specifiers approve & customers purchase based on a “company name”, someone they have used in the past assuming that name familiarity is sufficient proof for product dependability. The specifier when selecting a product is trying to select the one that best solves the problem presented to him by his customer, the end user. And the customer, the user, wants a product that will, after installation be as user friendly and trouble free as possible. Both are trying to determine which moveable wall supplier will best satisfy the projected needs of the project. Therefore, rather than simply select a product from a company whose name is familiar, we suggest you look at the products themselves and those characteristics or features that will most impact the desired end results. Let’s look at three points related to manually operated flat wall products as supplied by Moderco and two other major manufacturers.


How long has the “product” been in continuous use in the field? (based on publicly available information/knowledge)

  • Manufacturer #1: Primary “High End” product introduced in 2012 and in use since then: 9 years of proven field use. Recently introduced two “redesigned” products replacing remainder of existing lines. No immediate information as to how “new” these products are or if there is any history of use in field.
  • Manufacturer #2: Present line of flat walls in use since 2007 with 14 years of proven history of field performance. Quality product.
  • Moderco: Signature “high end” flat wall has been in continuous use since 1980. It is the “most used” flat wall design in existence in the world. Moderco distributor partners are continuing to service existing Signature panels that have been in place since 1980 – almost 40 years of reliable use. Signature is the longest in use product available anywhere. Moderco Excel flat wall was first installed in 2008 – 13 years ago with majority of original projects installed in 08 & 09 still in use. Proven history of field performance.


Laboratory STC Acoustic testing credibility (from published specifications). See reading recommendation below

  • Manufacturer #1: Reference Acoustic Standards: ASTM E-90. ASTM E-413. Test conducted in independent acoustical laboratory. Provide a complete & unedited written sound test report when requested.
  • Manufacturer #2: Quality Assurance: ASTM E-90. ASTM E-413. ASTM E-336. Acoustical performance tested at a laboratory accredited by NVLAP in accordance with ASTM E90. Complete unaltered written test report is to be made available upon request.
  • Moderco: Quality Assurance: ASTM E90-99, E413-87. All tests must be from an independent, currently operating, NVLAP accredited laboratory available to verify results. No tests prior to ASTM E-90-99 will be permitted.


In order to obtain a complete and accurate picture of what “STC” is and how it is determined we would urge you to read the article below with particular emphasis on the difference between ASTM E-90 by itself and, for example ASTM E-90 -99. A reference to “ASTM E-90” alone is meaningless unless the test procedure is further identified by a numerical suffix indicating the year the test was conducted: example ASTM E-90-99. Moderco is the only company that includes it its specifications this numerical suffix and indicates those specific tests that are acceptable and valid today. Some manufacturers are using tests that are over 25 years old and no longer valid as proof of acoustical integrity.


Warranties (from published specifications and material).

  • Manufacturer #1.: Repair or replace any panel components with manufacturing defects: warranty of 2 years. Steel track system #1– warranty of 5 years. Steel track system #2 – warranty of 20 years. Aluminum track systems – warranty of 2 years. From manufacturer #1’s policy & procedure: “All operable partition suspension systems must have a documented preventive maintenance program performed annually to remain in warranty”
  • Manufacturer #2.: Warranty of 2 years on all panels & components and suspension system. Warranty based on any defects in material and workmanship excluding abuse.
  • Moderco: Panels – Warranty of 2 years. All Panel Mechanical parts (seals, closures, essentially anything that “moves”) – warranty of 5 years. Track & trollies – warranty of 5 years. Warranty on all defects in material or workmanship excluding abuse. Lifetime warranty on all hinges.


An operable wall is a dynamic product that is subject to abuse and wear and tear and “does something” rather than just sits there and looks pretty. It has to perform on a continuous and dependable basis and provide the qualities of stopping sight and sound while remaining aesthetically pleasing. The actual product is more than a recognizable “company name”.

If we can assist you in the selection of your wall system please contact us. 1.800.363.3150.