It can be easy to get so caught up in the products when writing a specification that many often forget to consider the environment surrounding the openings. For example, high-traffic areas require heavy-duty materials. Specifying quality edge guards, armor plates, and items to protect the door will extend the life cycle of the opening.
Using a loading dock example, the exterior opening is going to experience a lot of cart traffic. Auto operators can be beneficial to get the doors out of the way easily. Protection plates and armor plates are needed as shields. Swing clear hinges are ideal so the doors do not extend into the opening, making them susceptible to getting hit with an oncoming cart.
Universal accessibility is an important aspect to consider. An auto operator
is required to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other accessibility standards. Does the facility also need a ramp to overcome flooring conditions? Perhaps a wider door with heavyweight hinges is required as well.
It is also important to pay special attention to door stops. When a door
is opened, whether swinging or sliding, it must have something to stop its movement. A wall stop is preferred, but if there is no wall for the door to stop against, an overhead stop may be necessary. As a last resort, a floor type stop can be considered. In any case, it is critical to be specific about how door stops are to be applied. There are many documented cases of true creativity in the incorrect application of door stops. The location of the door stop at either the top of the door (as is the case with overhead stops) or the bottom of the door (as is the case with floor stops) can exert additional stresses on the door. However, the chief concern is really the location of the stop itself. If possible, one must avoid using floor stops because of the trip hazard they can create, and the dirt collection around them.
Acoustics are another important consideration. While music rooms in schools are common areas where sound gasketing is needed, hospitals are sometimes overlooked. Sound control is critical in healthcare facilities. Nearly every hospital or clinic has rooms where patients are having private insurance or health-related conversations. To comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and ensure the confidentiality of communications with individuals, sound gasketing needs to be top of mind when specifying for these openings.
Sound gasketing typically includes an automatic door bottom, which automatically extends downward to seal against the threshold as the door is closed against the frame stop. It is strongly recommended to use the heaviest duty automatic door bottom possible, since medium- and light-duty ones do not perform well in a commercial environment. Electrically controlled (motor-driven) door bottom models are available as well.
Additionally, studies have found noise reduction can positively impact the rate of patient recovery in hospitals. As more healthcare facilities strive to reduce noise, architects can help by specifying door hardware solutions that are known to minimize noise, such as quiet electric latch retraction exit devices or slam-free door controls.
Of course, complying with building, fire, and life safety codes is critical. It is important to reference the latest codes and standards, including:
- Door Hardware Institute (DHI) installation techniques;
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI/SDI) A250.8, Recommended Specifications for Standard Steel Doors and Frames;
- Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) 831, Hardware Locations for Hollow Metal Doors and Frames; and
- DHI WDHS.3, Recommended Hardware Locations for Wood Flush Doors.
Accurate, detailed door hardware specifications establish the groundwork for successful installations, and efficient door performance relies on correct installation. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough how important Part 3 of the specification is to the process. If that part has the proper paragraphs for installation—and that information is followed—there should be little, if any, issues with performance in the field.
The spec writing process for door hardware can be complicated, particularly in large buildings or those with various levels of security. Additionally, with various codes to comply with, as well as considerations for access control, egress, and credential management, it is helpful to rely on someone well-versed in these specialties to help develop the proper door hardware specifications for the project.
Timothy “T.J.” Gottwalt, DHT, AHC/CDC, FDAI, FCSI, CDT, CCPR, CM-BIM, first joined the Construction Specifications Institute in 1991, and now serves as strategic architectural account manager for Allegion. A strong believer in continual education, he has developed more than 30 continuing education courses covering a variety of topics related to the proper specifying of doors, frames, door hardware, and security products. As a trusted advisor to many of the nation’s leading architects, Gottwalt has served in several leadership roles in industry organizations including Door and Hardware Institute (DHI), American Institute of Architects (AIA), Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), and American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He currently serves on CSI’s Practice Guide Task Team, chairs the Product Representative Practice Guide Task Team, and serves on the Institute Certification Committee. Gottwalt can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.