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How and why kalamein doors were developed

Kalamein doors have been popular across all areas of construction since they were first introduced in the 1920s. What makes these metal-clad doors so in-demand, and how did this unique style of door fabrication start in the first place?

The practice of cladding wooden windows and door frames in zinc or steel first began in the early 20th Century. Aside from being reinforced to provide strength and extra insulation, kalamein doors also had a unique, unmistakable appearance, which varied according to what kind of metal was used. A hardy but plain industrial door might be clad in unassuming zinc, while the front doors of an upmarket apartment building might have an ostentatious, baroque appearance after being clad in polished brass or copper.

The name of the end products of kalamein doors was a reference to the mineral calamine, which provides the ore from which zinc is produced. The term “kalamein” is now used to describe any architectural element that involves the cladding of wood with sheet metal.

How are kalamein doors made?

The principle of kalamein door construction is relatively simple. A door made from a selected hardwood or engineered wood is clad in metal panels, which can be made from steel, zinc, copper, brass, or any other metal. Sometimes, it needn’t even be a metal; even materials such as sheetrock have been used on some kalamein door projects.

What are the advantages of kalamein doors?

From a purely functional point of view, kalamein doors have the advantage of being extremely hardy. Even if a relatively cheap and weak wooden core is used, then the metal cladding will help to strengthen the door and extend its life. When it comes to aesthetics, kalamein doors offer a very specific look and feel to a building. Zinc or steel-clad doors complement the industrial feel of factories and other facilities, while brass or copper cladding is primarily used to achieve a specific historical look, harking back to the 1920s to 1940s, when kalamein doors first came into fashion. Whether used in the restoration of historic buildings or to give a “retro” look to a new project, the effect of kalamein doors is extremely authentic and also adds a touch of class and opulence. 

How strong are kalamein doors?

The strength of a particular kalamein door door depends on the materials used to make it. A solid hardwood door carefully clad in stainless steel is sure to have lasting strength and endurance. Doors with honeycombed cores and slightly less durable metals may not be as strong, but on the whole, kalamein doors offer excellent resistance to impact and other sources of potential damage.

Heather and Little have been fabricating kalamein doors since they first became fashionable. With experience that goes back almost a century, we create doors, windows and other metalwork elements for buildings of all kinds across North America. For more information on kalamein doors and other products, contact us today.

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