Masonite, a company known for making building supplies and doors, has jumped on the smart home bandwagon in a surprising way. On Thursday, the company dedicated a portion of its investor conference to plans for connected front doors, smarter doors for inside the home, and a shift in distribution that could affect lock, security, and lighting companies.
Let’s start with the front door. In late March, Masonite issued a release noting it would offer a front door with access to power and Wi-Fi connectivity. It signed a partnership with Yale and Ring to integrate the companies’ locks and doorbell into the new connected door. During the investor briefing, Masonite said it would also integrate lighting into the door and a sensor that will track whether the door is open or shut.
This level of integration won’t be limited to Yale or Ring, says Cory Sorice, SVP and chief innovation officer with Masonite. (Sorice may be familiar to readers of this publication as the former head of innovation for Chamberlain and the brains behind its MyQ efforts.) What Masonite has done is build a power management and connectivity module and figured out how to wire the door to the home’s existing electrical power.
The management module will let the homeowner ensure that other devices on the door are working and include backup batteries if the power fails. Homeowners will need to manage the door through a dedicated app. The new door will have a standard interface so other lock and doorbell companies can add their devices. For these companies, having the integrated power and easy installation means they can do away with bulky battery packs and make life easier for homeowners to install their products.
Of course, if Anderson or Jeld-Wen, which compete with Masonite in the door market, decide to build a smarter door, they could create their own standard for installing locks and doorbells, making life difficult for the makers of those smart devices who might then have to worry about integrations on the software and hardware side.
For now, Masonite is first with the concept, and it’s a really intriguing one. Essentially, it’s bringing features of a commercial door — like power and sensors — down to the residential market. For builders, the partnership between Masonite, Yale, and Ring means they could call Masonite, spec out and install the door, and already have two popular smart home features added in one easy step.
But Sorice is adamant that the smart door isn’t only for new homes. He says that many consumers will be using cash they received or saved during the pandemic for renovations after the pandemic. And swapping out a front door during a renovation isn’t a huge step. The need for power does mean the homeowner will have to call an electrician, but because most front doors already have an exterior light, the ability to bring power to the door won’t be a big reach. The power will connect to the door using a protected tube, as is common in commercial doors.
We can expect to see these doors hit the market later this spring. Sorice expects about 60% of the smarter door sales to come from renovations and only 40% from new construction.
Inside the house, Masonite also announced a smarter interior door thanks to its acquisition of IP from a company that made a door hinge that would automatically shut the door when it sensed a fire. Two firefighters started the company because they knew that in house fires, a closed door can help slow the progression of a fire, giving the occupants of the room time to await help or find their way out of a window.
Finally, the company also announced a smarter way to hang interior doors that doesn’t require people to take off the hinges, the door trim, and other elements. I can say some of the worst fights my husband and I have ever had have been conducted while trying to put a door back on its hinges, so I welcome innovation here.
Sorice’s ideas are bold, and I can honestly say I’ve never given much thought to a smart door, but I like the direction he’s heading in. As we finally get some standards for smart home devices, it should be easier for professionals to add connected products so consumers don’t have to choose, install, and manage them.
He’s also eager to hear from entrepreneurs about other elements that might make sense for a door with adequate power and connectivity. Today’s version has the locks, the video doorbell, lighting, and a sensor, but tomorrow’s could offer something completely different. I already put in a request for colored lights, because it would make holiday decorating a snap.