Moveable Wall Specifications – Mostly Truth but Sometimes Fiction


One of the most common requests all manufacturers receive from specifiers is for a product “comparison” to a specified or preferred product. And what all manufacturers do is dissect their product and in some form, provide objective facts about what they propose to supply as compared to what the specification details & calls for. The decision makers then, after comparing the specification to the alternate product, make a selection based on this information. Specifications quite properly, contain a lot of “details” and too often, meeting or complying with these “details” is the bottom line by which acceptability is measured and determined. Manufacturers will be rejected because they do not comply with “all” specified features. Is this correct and fair? Holding every manufacturer to all of the specification requirements? Moderco says NO!

When evaluating, what the specifier should be aware of are those not so subtle hidden requirements included by the specified company that are there only to eliminate competition. Meaningless requirements. Some examples as it pertains to moveable walls.


One manufacturer includes the following regarding steel track: “Bracket must support the load bearing surface of the track”. Why do they include this – will the track fail if the load bearing surface is not supported? Is the track prone to failure when loads are applied? They do not include this requirement when they specify aluminum track. Why not? Why is this requirement included?


It is true that the support bracket that they use on their steel track systems is designed such that the bearing surface is supported. But this bracket is their standard design. It has no specific extra benefit or value to the consumer. This an attempt to portray their standard bracket design as a specific need that all must comply with in order to be acceptable. But the requirement is there only to eliminate competition. Nothing else. In addition when it is convenient they will “direct mount” (screw) this same track directly to a wood header without the requirement for a “load bearing” support system.


One manufacturer, when one of their specific steel track systems is specified, includes: “Aluminum track is not acceptable”. Why not? The majority of this same companies track systems are aluminum. Why must the only acceptable track be manufactured from steel when this particular track and application is specified?


This is an attempt to eliminate competition by making just steel track acceptable. They know that competitors will bid using a standard aluminum system when this application – right angle turn - is needed. The manufacturer does have aluminum right angle track systems that provides the same operation and stacking and are vastly superior in operation and results. Aluminum track is perfectly acceptable to them when it is convenient. The material from which the track is manufactured should not be a determining requirement.


One manufacturer specifies their astragals as being “roll formed steel astragals”. They follow this up with “Rigid plastic or aluminum astragals or astragals in only one panel edge are not acceptable”. Why not? The astragal is there to align panels and create an acoustical barrier between panels. As long as it functions in such a manner and is guaranteed by the manufacturer as to durability and performance, why is the material from which it is made an issue? How can one manufacturer dictate the materials that another manufacturer uses to make his product when the design has proven itself in the laboratory and field?


A manufacturer must or at least should, make it’s astragal from the material that was used to attain the panels laboratory STC rating. This particular company manufactured many of their astragals at the time their sound tests were conducted using aluminum, they subsequently changed to steel, and now say that aluminum is not acceptable but use the same sound test. Hard to have it both ways. But it does not matter as long as the astragal performs as required. Aluminum, steel, plastic, location etc. are not an issue – only durability, guarantees and results should be the considerations.

There are other specific requirements contained in various manufacturers specifications designed only to eliminate competition. Examples are ways that panel skins are attached, the mounting of hinges, pass door details etc. all of which should not be included or be a determination as to a manufacturer’s ability to perform.

When evaluating a product, when comparing a product, when specifying a product, we suggest that you look past some of the “not acceptable selling points” that manufacturers include in specifications in order to give them an edge: to eliminate competition. For the most part any of the 6 or so companies manufacturing operable walls that you may be considering, will be reliable, reputable and competent, providing time proven, performance driven products. Do not eliminate any sources by including in your specification “talking points” designed only to eliminate competition and offered by those who do not have your best interests at heart.

To paraphrase (for you country fans) Kris Kristofferson wrote “mostly truth but partly fiction”. This is what too many specifications contain these days. Implied fiction. Let Moderco assist you in preparing a truthful specification that does not include statements that are designed to discourage or eliminate competition & that if you wish identifies equal products from competitors.

Call us at 1.800.363.3150 and we will custom write a specification for you that will do just that.