Unlocking Best Practices: Specifying door hardware

Photo © BigStockPhoto/Kuzina

by Scott J. Tobias, CSI, CDT, AHC
Far too many design/construction professionals fail to pay enough attention to door hardware—it does not matter how it is operated, whether a push, pull, knob rotation, or depression of a push bar, it is too often given short shrift as just a means to get to the other side.

Virtually every building project will contain doors and hardware, starting with the entrance or possibly perimeter security. Despite the mundanity of these components, there are many considerations to specifying and using doors and door hardware such as life and fire safety, accessibility, security, and convenience of use—some of which can conflict and jeopardize lives. Fortunately, there is an industry standard to provide guidance to design and construction professionals.

The Door and Hardware Institute’s (DHI’s) Sequence and Format for the Hardware Schedule is specifically named for hardware schedules, but the same sequence and format is typically used for specifying door hardware sets in Division 08 architectural specification documents. The specification documents are typically the responsibility of the architect, coordinated with a DHI-certified architectural hardware consultant (AHC), and used to estimate and understand what doors and hardware are required on a project.

Once it is determined what is required, the entity furnishing the doors and hardware (e.g. a door and hardware distributor supplying through a general contractor) is responsible for the hardware schedule. This schedule is typically created from the specification and in conjunction with the drawings and is submitted back to the architect for approval prior to anything being ordered, furnished, or installed on the project.

The DHI Sequence is helpful with assisting anyone in the construction industry working with architectural door hardware. It brings a basic understanding of all the components and how they are applied to work with the total door opening. There are many products, functions, applications, and component combinations available to be specified, furnished, and installed. DHI’s resource helps put order to the scheduling process to ensure all applications, codes, and components are reviewed for proper operation, compliance, and function.

Categorizing the various types of door hardware
DHI divides door hardware into 10 sequenced sections in its standard.

When entering a building or space, the door hardware is often the first thing a person touches. This means it must be not only functional in terms of safety and security, but also aesthetically pleasing. Photo © BigStockPhoto/aruba200

1. Hanging devices
The first item addressed in the sequence is the hanging device. Although not typically a highlight of the door opening, the hanging device is one of the most important components. Supporting the entire weight of the door from the top, bottom, side, or a combination thereof, they are relied on for precise and consistent pivot-point swing or slide—hanging devices are probably the most actively used door opening components.

Depending on the type of door, function, and application, it can be hung onto a frame (of a door or an opening) or directly on a wall. A swinging door can be hung on hinges, continuous hinges, pivots, or floor closers, while a sliding door can be hung on tracks and hangers suspended from the top, underneath the head of a framed opening, on the face of the wall, or supported by the floor from underneath the door.

The most efficient and effective way to hang a door would be any means supported by the floor, rather than the frame or wall. In the latter cases, the door pulls away from the frame or wall, causing tension, whereas a door supported by the floor is resting on top and has no tension at all. Although a swinging door is the most common type, sliding door options and use have increased over recent years for their function, space-saving ability, and aesthetics.

2. Securing devices
Now that the door is hanging, the next part of the sequence is to secure it with devices such as bolts, bored or mortise locksets, fire-exit hardware, or deadlocks. When specifying or scheduling a pair of doors, the inactive leaf is always secured first—otherwise, the active leaf has nothing to secure itself into, leaving both vulnerable. In other words, the inactive leaf must act as the fixed material that the frame or wall would be for a single door opening.

Once the inactive leaf of a pair has been secured (or, only a single door opening is being specified), the proper securing device is then specified. There are many factors, options, and preferences to take into account when securing the opening, including function, building codes, life safety and fire cords, design, and personal preference. Sustainability can also be a factor when choosing the materials used to manufacture a product. When the lifecycle is twice as long as another product of the same function, not only are healthier materials used, but they are also replaced less often, reducing labor and material needs, along with products being sent to the landfill.

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One comment on “Unlocking Best Practices: Specifying door hardware”

  1. Most of us might think that there is only one type of lock, which is the one we use to get in and out of our homes. When in reality there are many. Like in the second picture, this looks like the type of door you’d see in a bathroom, judging by the mosaic tile. For whatever lock you have, do know that you shouldn’t fear from locking yourself out. A skilled locksmith would be able to get into even the most stubborn of locks.

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