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The Important Building Code Laws on Entry Doors

Entry doors provide an essential method of protection for commercial buildings. From retail stores to banks, having a door that meets the building code is vital to protecting the occupants and items inside of a building.

In the case of an emergency, these same doors are the primary method of exiting, and it’s imperative they are up to code and in working order.

So when it comes to these entry doors, what are the codes and standards they need to meet? And why are these standards so important? Let’s dive in and see what some of the most important building codes are when it comes to commercial doors.

International Building Code

Building codes are typically unique to states, cities, municipalities, and other levels of government. While there isn't one global law that impacts how buildings are made, the International Building Code is updated every three years by the International Code Council, and many municipalities across the world decide to use these codes.

Some locations adopt either the code entirely or elect to use certain sections and adjust the rest to fit their specific needs.

In Chapter 10, “Means of Egress,” the ICC specifies the sizing of the doors, ceiling heights, what hardware can be used for the doors, and even how the entry doors should be illuminated in the case of darkness or a power outage.

The code varies widely and depends on the function of the building, the function of the room the doors lead to, and the size of the building overall.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by Congress in 1990 and isn't technically a code but a law. Contractors must build all commercial structures in the United States to the act’s standards to comply with the law.

The ADA has strict requirements when it comes to commercial doors. Some of these include:

  • When the door is opened 90 degrees, the width from the face of the door to the edge of the frame must be at least 32 inches
  • The minimum height for the frame of a door is 80 inches
  • Handles, latches, locks, and other operating devices on a door must have a shape that is easy to use with one hand and can be operated easily by those with limited mobility.
  • Hardware, such as handles, can be installed no more than 48 inches from the floor.
  • The door threshold may be a maximum of ¾ inch for sliding doors and ½ inch for normal doors.

The above doesn't cover all requirements for doors under the ADA. It is also important to note that some municipalities may enact stricter standards that builders must follow in all commercial buildings.

National Fire Protection Association

Whereas the Americans with Disabilities Act is meant to help with accessibility for those who need it, the National Fire Protection Association has a model code meant to make an escape during fires easier and save lives in the process.

Like the International Building Code, the NFPA code is not a law and isn’t required to be followed. Again, municipalities may elect to make these standards required, but the NFPA does not require it.

Some of the standards included in the NFPA code include:

  • All exterior doors must swing out to accelerate egress.
  • All exterior doors in buildings with more than 50 people must be equipped with a hardware device like a push bar to minimize the possibility of not opening the door.
  • All fire-rated doors must be tested and inspected annually by the property owner.
  • Maximum of ¾ inch clearance on the bottom of the door.

Many manufacturers, including CDF Distributors, provide doors that follow all of the standards in the NFPA code.

Other Codes

While the local governments ultimately determine what the building codes are, plenty of organizations, in addition to the above, publish their own codes to provide suggestions for builders and businesses. These include the Fair Housing Act in the USA, the LEED certification standards, and more.

Having your building and doors up to code is of utmost importance. Give CDF Distributors a call today to discuss the many options you have for entry doors that meet and exceed every published standard.

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