For door hardware to be effective at protecting life and property, its properties must be measurable. That’s where door hardware standards come into play. These are determined by organizations in the design and construction industry, and they list technical requirements and best practices for safe buildings. Because of that, they can guide manufacturers and sellers to make the best products they can.
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With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the door hardware standards that are out there.
What are the Standards?
Building and safety officials frequently refer to a group of documents such as the Life Safety Code and the International Building Code. These help determine a basic level of hardware performance for safety. Many standards are developed by the Building Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). Once drafted, they must be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and are updated frequently.
These standards have been developed and updated for more than 50 years.
In addition to ensuring safety, these standards also ensure that door hardware products manufactured across the country are compatible with each other across geographic areas.
Other organizations that write standards for door hardware include the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). If you’ve purchased windows lately, you’ve probably seen the AAMA label somewhere on the product.
What’s Covered in Door Hardware Standards?
The ANSI-approved standards examine every part of door hardware and how it performs. For example, ANSI/BHMA A156.2 is for bored and preassembled locks and latches. One of the crucial elements of this standard is cycle testing. That’s where the product is locked and unlocked up to 1 million times to determine how well it stands up to the stresses of everyday use in a home.
Another standard, ANSI/BHMA A156.37-2014, addresses multipoint locks, which are mechanical locking systems with bolts, latches or other fastening devices at two or more locations along the frame of a door.
Other standards, such as ANSI/BHMA 156.22, cover door gasketing and edge seal systems. This standard includes tests for resistance to smoke and air infiltration, the ability to keep loud noises out, and how well the gaskets perform under stress.
Still more standards cover the performance of hinges or handles. Cycle testing is also commonly used to determine how well these items perform.
In many cases, hardware for doors also must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed into law in 1990, the ADA is a civil rights law that bans discrimination against disabled individuals in all areas of public life. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
One part of the law deals with accommodations. That includes doors. It requires “handles, pulls, latches, locks, and other operable parts on accessible doors shall have a shape that is easy to grasp with one hand and does not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate.”
Lever handles and other types meet this requirement. However, traditional round doorknobs don’t, because they require tight grasping and twisting to turn and open.
During a Hurricane
While you might not think hardware is important during a hurricane, it can actually play a vital role in protecting a home.
Entryways can be vulnerable to impact from flying debris propelled by hurricane-force winds. And experts say the door is not often what fails; it’s the hardware, specifically at the latching point.
So what happens if your door hardware fails during a hurricane and your front entrance flies open? It can be disastrous. The rapid change in pressure can cause your roof to fly off. The effect was first noted in the U.S. after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew in Florida.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also suggests that homeowners use stainless steel hardware in coastal areas prone to hurricanes. It can resist salt water and rusting. These and other door hardware standards are important parts of protecting a residence.
Door hardware standards play a major role in the construction industry by setting minimum benchmarks for performance and quality of products. These play a major role in protecting life and property. Architects, designers and manufacturers refer to these standards when developing products. Consumers should have at least some level of awareness about them to make informed purchasing decisions.
If you’re looking to buy a new patio door or you’re in the process of building a house, knowledge of door hardware standards can help. If you still have more questions, seek out a door professional who can guide you through the performance standards and help you find the product you’re looking for.
And, if you’re looking for a company to put that new door in and to select hardware, use the Glass.com door and window dealer locator to find a company that can do the work. We have affiliate businesses all over the U.S. that are ready to help you shop for door hardware that meets the toughest standards in the industry.