The basics of door hardware specifications

By Lori Greene, DAHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, FDHI

Door hardware specifications can be confusing and tedious. Just the thought of having to recall door hardware terminology, code requirements, and best practices is overwhelming. Then, transferring that knowledge to work when designing commercial or institutional facilities with hundreds to thousands of openings, each including five to 10 pieces of hardware, seems like a monumental task.

To help the process seem a little less daunting, here is a reference guide explaining common terminology and hardware. There are four main steps when specifying door hardware:

• hang the door;

• secure the door;

• control the door; and

• protect the door.

Hang the door

Typically, hinges are used to hang the door. There are a few basic types. Five-knuckle or three-knuckle are common choices. Continuous hinges run the entire length of the door and are often used on exterior doors. It is important to consider the door width, thickness, weight, and clearance when choosing a hinge.

Pivots reduce stress on the frame by distributing the door weight throughout the floor and structure. Pivots are used when the door is heavy, design requires pivots, or it is an aesthetic preference.

In the author’s experience, hinges causing the most confusion are wide throw, swing clear, raised barrel, and anchor hinges.

Wide throw hinges

These hinges are used when extra clearance is needed behind a door. These are commonly utilized when a door needs to open 180 degrees and sit parallel with the wall, held open on a magnetic holder.

Swing clear hinges

These hinges are used to swing the door out of the clear opening of the frame when the door is open approximately 90 to 95 degrees. Swing clear hinges are most commonly used in hospitals.

Raised barrel hinges

For these hinges, the barrel is offset to one side instead of centered between the hinge leaves. This type of hinge is fairly rare, but it is used when the barrel of a standard hinge would interfere with a special frame condition or trim.

Anchor hinges

These are used as the top hinge for high-use or heavy doors. In addition to the standard hinge leaves, flanges are attached to the top of the door and the underside of the frame head. These hinges require a special door and frame prep, and are handled.

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