Top Tips: What you might not know about selection and installation of commercial door hardware

You can buy the best door on the market but if it isn’t installed properly, it won’t last as long as it was designed. Rural Builder went to suppliers of hardware to get their top tips for proper selection and installation based on their own products. For more tips, check with each supplier for product-specific details.

1.  Be aware of code requirements
Building code requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act led to the consensus requirements found in ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. This standard has been adopted by the vast majority of jurisdictions through the International Code Council model building codes. This standard affects all the hardware in a building, not simply the threshold height.

Fire-rated door assembly requirements. The 2013 edition of NFPA 80 includes 13 criteria for the inspection and testing of fire-rated door assemblies, including the requirement for self-closing (closer device or spring hinges) and self-latching in the closed position.
Fire-rated door hardware requirements. When hardware is installed on fire doors, it must be fire exit hardware, which is listed for both panic and fire protection. This hardware will not include the mechanical dogging function, which provides the ability to keep the latch retracted mechanically. Plyco Corporation

2.  Know the customer’s intended use
The customer needs to understand the features and functionality of the hardware choices available – and then make informed decisions based on their own product needs. Many hardware failures come from unintended misuse, stemming from a lack of understanding of what’s available for purchase. Taking the time to discuss the specifics of the customer’s intended use of the product, and the setting in which the product will be used, can directly affect which hardware options are chosen to best suit their purposes. CannonBall:HNP

Grade 1 hardware may be well worth the extra cost in some cases, but Grade 3 might be fine in others. Grade 3 bored locks are tested to 200,000 cycles, Grade 2 bored locks are tested to 400,000 cycles and Grade 1 bored locks are tested to 1,000,000 cycles. Plyco Corporation

3.  Size matters
Tips-MWI_sliding-doorIt is very important to know door size and how much the door will be used.  Is that side of the building typically subjected to high winds? Common mistakes are focusing too much on budget.  Sliding doors have to withstand heavy use and wind. Call-backs can take up time and cause concerns, so use the strongest door needed for a particular application from the start so the owner is completely satisfied with the end product. MWI Components

4. Measure, measure, measure
You buy a door and you buy a system and you discover your hardware system is too short. We typically recommend a 3-inch overlap total, so if you have a 12-foot opening you would have an extra 3 inches. Make sure your measurements are correct before installation. National Hardware

When planning for a new sliding door there should be enough track to hold the door in the open position without obstructing the opening. For example, a 10 foot wide opening requires 20 foot of track, so that when the door is opened to the left, it fully clears the opening. Track comes in various lengths, typically 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 20-feet, and sections can be welded together or joined with joint brackets to make the required length. Sliding doors should always be sized larger than the opening itself. This is called “lap” and typically is no smaller than 4 inches. This allowance for lap is required in order for the guide or stay rollers to work properly at the bottom of the door. Example: 10-foot wide opening would have a minimum 10 foot 4 inch door (2-inch lap on either side of door). Richards-Wilcox

5. Know the weight of the door you’ll need
The weight of the door is critical because that determines the type of hardware you use. Buying hardware designed for a lighter door will cause excess wear on the trolleys and on the rail when installed on a heavier door.

Not only do you need the correct rollers and track and hardware for a heavy door but the door system that you use is really critical. Some people use all-wood door systems and basically what that means is they use a wood frame and then install metal on the front. That can work for lighter doors but once you get into a heavier door, 500-800 pounds or more it’s really critical to alter the materials you use for that door. National Hardware

6. Pay attention to the wind
If you’re in the Midwest or in the Plains and there’s a lot of wind, you want [the frame] to be strong. Steel is going to be a lot stronger than wood, and it’s not going to rot. So we would recommend an all-steel frame for larger, commercial style doors. National Hardware

7. Don’t take shortcuts
Just installing basic accessories can make or break the door you are putting on. For example the accessories you put on the bottom of the door, such as a stair roller, basically keeps the door from pulling away from the barn. This is critical. A lot of people may not put on the stair roller. They may take a shortcut and say, ‘I don’t need it,’ but it you have high wind, that door can pull away from the barn. There have been instances of doors being ripped off because there wasn’t a stair roller. Something else for wind-related problems are guide rails. When used, your bottom guide is engaged in this guide rail system and it prevents excess damages, especially in wind. A big mistake is not using the right accessories for excessive wind. National Hardware

Hanger Mounting for Sliding Doors: Door hangers are usually sold in pairs (two per door) to ensure correct ordering and installation. Proper mounting of hanger trucks is critical to protect the sliding door system and extend its life. It is very important that each door leaf have only two hangers (attachment points) regardless of the size of the door. Attaching more than two hanger trucks on a single door can create a fulcrum or “teeter totter” effect and cause the track and hangers to wear unevenly, damage the door, or even make it difficult to operate the door properly. Richards-Wilcox

8. Tip: Read the instructions!
Be aware of the steps found in the full instruction sheet. For example, a door closer mounted on the pull side of a door panel is installed much higher than a closer installed on the push side of the door panel is mounted. In the first case, the arm needs to go clear over the door as it opens. Read through the entire instruction sheet to know what installation will be best. And go step-by-step. Plyco Corporation

It’s a simple axiom, but the truth of the matter is that most of this type of work is intuitive – until it isn’t. An incorrect installation can break the hardware before it’s even used, void a manufacturer’s product warranty, cause headaches for both project leads and customers,  and sometimes reflect poorly on entire finished projects years after completion. CannonBall:HNP

Knowledge is power, and installers should expect manufacturers to provide the knowledge to finish the job correctly via accurate instruction sheets (or access to knowledgeable staff members to assist in troubleshooting problems as they occur). CannonBall:HNP

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