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Durability of Operable Partitions


Durability should be a major consideration when selecting an operable partition. Moderco has for years recognized the need to design and manufacture partition systems that will withstand the general wear and tear and, in many cases, the extreme abuse that will be encountered over the partition’s life cycle. Operable Partitions today are too often thought of as a ”throw away” product: not by Moderco. With thought, care & built in design features combined with  a custom designed maintenance program a Moderco partition will last for years and years.

Panel skins: Moderco always recommends a steel skin panel that is reinforced with minimum ½” thick gypsum board laminated to the interior. Too often in order to save initial costs a buyer will opt for a Gyp skin (which Moderco will provide) or an MDF skin (not available from Moderco due to potential issues with high humidity conditions). Non steel skins will not stand up to the continuous abuse of frequent relocation, people trying to attach items, the bumping of chairs, trolleys and the like etc. An exterior  steel skin is always the correct . The extra minimal expense for steel skins at the outset will more than pay for itself over the long term.

Panel Frames: Moderco manufactures an aluminum framed panel (Signature – our premium line) and a steel framed panel (700 Series). Other than material they are similar in terms of structural integrity and therefore durability. Both systems have frames that are independent of the panel skins: the frames can stand alone if the skins need to be removed for replacement or repair. If the skins are damaged there is no danger in the panel frame failing. One manufacturer advertises that their skins are “lock formed and welded” to the frames. This is because they use the skin as a structural element as well as to  maintain the dimensional tolerances of the panel. All Moderco panel frames have steel gusseted reinforced corners, double back to back top supports, reinforced welded trolley bolt connections and internal horizontal bracing to keep vertical elements separated at a constant dimension as well as support the panel skins from external impacts. True durability is a function of the strength of the panel frame.

Mechanical Parts: Other than unique features such as closures, pass doors etc., a Moderco panels only mechanical (moving) parts are the acoustic seals. We strive to minimize the mechanical complexity of panel seals and never mix one type of seal with another on the same panel. For example there are manufacturers who will recommend a mechanical seal on the base and an automatic seal on the top of each panel. Two different mechanisms each with their own complexities and potential problems. Moderco has 3 combinations of seals: fix top and automatic base, fix top and mechanical base, mechanical top and mechanical base. We have only one proven design of mechanical seals and of automatic seals – not several options based on price rather than performance. Minimize mechanical parts, standardize on seal systems that are field proven over time, interconnect top and base seals with welded steel rods and you will go a long way to improving durability.        

Panel Trim: The weakest portion of a panel when it comes to aesthetics is the vertical edge: where the panels meet and where the operators grip the panels to move them. Aesthetically a case can be made for a fine line meeting (no trim on the panel face and Moderco offers fine line on both of our systems) but from a durability perspective, a protective edge is the best option. The overlapping piece of aluminum or steel protects the panel edge from abuse and excess wear. In order to achieve a fine line meeting joint typically  the covering material must be folded around the edge of the panel and into the astragal cavity. This sharp bend produces extreme tension in the material resulting in failure and requiring recovering at an more accelerated rate than does a protective design. And the protective design gives the operator a place to grab on to the panel rather than put potentially dirty or greasy hands on the usually expensive panel surface. Ask Moderco about finish options of a protective edge design.

Panel covering: Choose a heavy weight standard vinyl or a vertical ribbed wall covering (carpet) rather than specials that will look good now but not so good in a few years.

Discuss all of these options with your Moderco representative. Call us at 1 800 363-3150.