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Why are you given little choice in fire door ironmongery when ordering fire doors?

"Why can't I get what I want?"

Black and white portrait of Henry Ford
Henry Ford

Henry Ford was a great source of witty and insightful quotes, as was his contemporary, Mark Twain. He also happened to be the first person to mass manufacture an affordable car (or automobile) for the American public. He was able to do this by keeping strict control of the manufacturing process and offering a limited range of choices for his target audience. (you’ve already got that famous quote in your head, haven’t you?)

"Any colour the customer wants, as long as it’s black." Henry Ford

We can also probably thank Henry for another 20th Century first – the five-day working week. He hoped that this new habit, the weekend, would catch on so that people could use the time for outings in his invention.

In many ways he was the Steve Jobs of his day and transformed the world. With such innovation, the audience cared little for options and accessories, they were focused on the pure genius of the invention. The same was true of the original iPod – remember those?

Both Ford and Jobs understood what their customers wanted at the outset. Of course, they soon developed a broader strategy and started to offer all manner of options and accessories. The Apple store today is a treasure trove of all things related to the core offer.

Ford's 1925 Model T Touring Car in black invented by Henry Ford, sitting stationary on a road in front of a wood of green trees.
1925 Ford Model T Touring Car. A world-first, astonishing development

The reason they soon moved to a more comprehensive range can be neatly summed up by one of Ford’s fantastic insights:

“If You Always Do What You've Always Done, You'll Always Get What You've Always Got.” Henry Ford

Now, let’s consider another astonishing invention that is far less easy to attribute – The Door.

Nobody knows who invented the door, but we do know it came from Egypt in around 4000 BCE. It was subsequently adopted by the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. By 79 CE, the first double and sliding doors had made an appearance in temples in Herculaneum and Pompeii.

A closed old brown wooden door set inside large old sand coloured bricks, and a grey flagstone floor.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that in today's world, you can pretty much get what you want.

The oldest door in the UK is in Westminster Abbey, dating back to around 1050.

Currently, the range of doors and possibilities are almost without limit. There are entire books just on front doors. You’d be forgiven for thinking that within legal guidelines and standards, you can pretty much get what you want.


Why are you given little choice in fire door ironmongery from door manufacturers?

Many architects and designers now specify doors from manufacturers' patterns as there is a reasonable amount of choice available. But there is also a creeping tendency for door manufacturers to offer a choice of hardware to their specific ranges, otherwise they may not offer a guarantee for their doors. For clarity, when it comes to fire doors, this may be because they have tested a specific door set – fair enough.

But non-fire doors do not have this issue, particularly front doors, which are not generally fire rated. And yet you will find the same ‘cannot guarantee’ clause deployed. Why?

It’s possible that the answer lies with a need to limit manufactured options to maintain cost control and therefore profit. We have been told that this is the case when a door costs over £7,000.

Except door manufacturers are not Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, and the door is hardly an invention in its early adoption. The most likely explanation is that they are limiting your choice for their own business reasons. Doors are complicated things and manufacturers clearly ‘know their onions’. But ironmongery and the whole subject of door hardware, as most experienced architects and designers quickly discover, is a surprisingly tricky subject, too.

Get the finish you want

We all rely on expertise, and this is where we come in. And our starting point is to offer the widest range of options possible.

At Poole Waite, we offer black, white, colour matching to specific RAL colours, satin and polished finish brass, chrome and nickel, as well as a variety of bronze finishes... the world is your oyster.

Our philosophy holds firm with Henry’s other famous quote: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

Fire door ironmongery from Poole Waite

Whether your project is old or new, Poole Waite’s long history and expertise make us the perfect people to help you make the right choice.

Our GAI-qualified staff have over 233 years of combined experience within the industry, and are able to offer the most up-to-date professional advice.

  • Assurance that your fire door ironmongery is compliant with the latest regulations

  • A wide range of product finishes and bespoke colour matching

  • Fire rated certification provided

  • Door scheduling service and door set packaging

Visit our website to view our products and discover more about our services.


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