It constantly amazes me that the cheapest, lowest-quality door hardware is often installed at the most prominent and most used doors in the building–at the aluminum storefront and glass entry doors. In fact, more expensive and better hardware is typically applied to the janitor door than the beautiful glass entry doors. Why? Because often the General Contractor will split off the door hardware for the storefront and glass doors to the company that is also supplying the doors. The curtainwall or glass company will invariably try to substitute the cheap door hardware that is on their shelves in lieu of the specified products.
The first point of impact is the door closer. There are five (5) basic types of closers that can be specified for storefront and glass entry doors:
- Heavy-duty multi-sized floor closers (only Rixson makes these)
- Light-duty thin slab sized floor closers (Dorma and Rixson both make these)
- Multi-sized overhead concealed closers (only Norton and Yale currently make these–I am purposely excluding Jackson’s low-quality multi-sized overhead concealed)
- Sized overhead concealed closers (LCN, Dorma, Rixson, International, Jackson)
- Surface closers (Norton, LCN, Yale)
FHT strongly recommends using only multi-sized closers at exterior doors. That means the spring power can be adjusted over a wide range of opening and closing forces. Since accessibility codes require low opening forces (currently 5 lbs. in California), the building owner may need the option of re-adjusting the closer’s spring power to ensure that the door closes and latches. With a sized closer, if you need a stronger closing force, that typically means buying a new door closer. The multi-sized requirement knocks out the thin slab sized floor closers and the sized overhead concealed closers. Surface closers work well, but have an aesthetic and practical drawback on storefront and glass doors. Overhead concealed closers that are multi-sized require a 4-inch high frame head.
Rixson heavy-duty floor closers (their 27 offset hung and 28 center hung) offer the architect and building owner many benefits:
- The substantial weight of the door rests on the floor closer (and, therefore, the floor), thus preventing door sag due to failing hinges. Rixson floor closers models are available for doors weighing up to 1500 lbs.
- The helical torsion spring creates an incredibly efficient door closer (over 80% efficiency). This means Rixson heavy-duty floor closers can be set to open with 5 lbs. opening force, yet still have 4 lbs. closing force. Surface closers are typically only around 60% efficient (3 lbs. closing force if the closer is set to 5 lbs. opening force.
- Rixson heavy-duty floor closers have a built-in hard stop that is factory set at 85°, 90°, 95° or 105°. With adjustable hydraulic backcheck, this ensures that the door will slow to a cushioned stop when swung open by pedestrians or wind. Light-duty overhead concealed closers (think Jackson, International, and Dorma) purport to stop the door from overswing, but you’ll soon see a sticker on the door for 24-hour closer repair because of their propensity to leak and lose control.
- The massive Rixson 27/28 floor closers are designed to withstand daily use by hundreds and thousands of pedestrians. They are the most durable closers available.
- Of course, one of the most obvious benefits is that the closer is almost completely hidden in the floor, leaving nothing to detract from the beauty of the door.
Rixson heavy-duty floor closers do take some time and effort to coordinate because of their 4″+ deep case, but the result is well worth the effort.
We’ll address coordination tips and floor closer options in future postings. We welcome your comments.