If there’s one thing that everyone in the construction industry seems to have in common, it’s a universal hatred of dealing with door hardware. From passage sets to overhead closers, spring hinges to locking ladder pulls, the overarching sentiment is that figuring out the correct hardware to use is just too complicated, too confusing, and too much of a hassle. While this line of thinking is common, it’s also unfortunate.
Hardware is important. It can change everything about a space, from the function to the aesthetics [and especially the budget]. Even a high-level understanding of some important hardware concepts can drastically increase the odds of getting what you want from a project. Below are some common elements that can help you get started.
One of the most tragic trends in hardware mistakes is finding a meticulously-made hardware schedule that is assigned to the wrong type of door. The most well-detailed specification on an exact type of standard butt hinge is still not going to make them work on a frameless glass door. This happens far more often than one might think.
The easiest way to outline a good hardware schedule is to start with the basics: what type of door do I have, and what do I want it to do? This not only assists in narrowing down the scope of possible hardware into a more manageable size, but it also makes it more likely that the important information will be carried through and that decisions on the more detailed choices can be made correctly.
The thought of trying to keep up with all of the necessary elements to maintain ADA compliance can seem overwhelming, but once you have an understanding of the important requirements and dimensions it is fairly easy to follow the rules. One major number to remember for doors is 10”. This has to do with what we call the “10 inch rule” – we’re not very creative with our ADA shorthand names at Spaceworks. The 10 inch rule refers to the fact that swinging doors should not have any projections within 10” above the finished floor on the push side of the door. A projection is defined as any plane that protrudes more than 1/16” of an inch from either vertically or horizontally from the plane of the door, and this applies to the door assembly itself as well as hardware like kick-plates, door rails, and pulls. This tends to have significant effects on the design and construction of doors in general, but can especially influence the specifications of entry doors where long, full-height ladder pulls and squared bottom rails have been traditionally used.
Luckily, there are hardware options that have been developed specifically with these requirements in mind, from a 60 degree tapered rail that allows for the bottom projections to still be ADA compliant to a bottom-locking ladder pull with a non-symmetrical design that cuts off over 10” AFF on the push side of the door. This rule also does not apply to sliding doors, or to frameless tempered glass doors without stiles that don’t have mounted hardware below 10”. For more information, visit the United States Access Board website.
Door closers are a tricky piece of hardware in that it seems as though their use should be obvious – they close doors! It is, after all, right in the name. Most specifiers are also aware of their other main function, which is to allow doors to hold open, usually at 90 degrees. However, even if you don’t want your doors to have closing or 90 degree hold open functionality, you may still need a door closer as a part of your recommended hardware set. Why? Because the less talked about hold open function of door closers is that they also “hold open” at 0 degrees, which is a fancy way of saying that they hold the door that they’re on closed. In many cases of standard office doors, this isn’t necessary because the doors are already held closed by another piece of door hardware – such as the latch on a passage set that sits in a strike on the door jamb and keeps those two components in line. But what about doors that don’t have latch sets? For instance, frameless glass doors that simply have door pulls mounted on the glass are becoming increasingly more common. In this case, a closer might be needed to make sure that the door stays fully closed in the frame, even if none of the other functionality from the closer is desired. The corollary to this recommendation is, due to the fact that these types of doors are gaining popularity, closers are being featured in more types of door hardware than ever before – you can find them concealed in headers, built into patch fittings, and even integrated into glass door hinges.
The Glass Association of North America, or GANA, also makes recommendations on door hardware as it pertains to glass doors. One important suggestion that has recently come about has to do with frameless glass doors and patch fittings. Often, patch fittings are thought of as a good way of being able to avoid the complications of figuring out which door rails are ADA compliant, as the patch fitting hardware does not extend along the full bottom length of the door as rails do. However, GANA now requests that doors over 8’6” tall do not use patch fittings for that very same reason. This means that taller doors following GANA guidelines have to use rails, which puts the onus right back on the specifying team to make sure their rail hardware is ADA compliant.
With all of the rules, regulations, and recommendations outlined above, which come from different sources and often overlap each other in terms of suggested use, it’s no wonder that many people try to avoid dealing with door hardware altogether. If you’ve been one of them, don’t worry – we’re here to help! Contact us with questions, concerns, or just to talk about our favorite door closers [we have several]. We’d love to hear your thoughts!