With many different types of door closers on offer, David Saxby of IronmongeryDirect advises on the key features to consider in order to make an informed choice for your project
Door closers are a vital component when it comes to the specification of door hardware for any architectural project. Choose the correct closer and it can enhance the visual impact of a building as well as its functionality, accessibility and safety. In order to achieve the best result, it is important to understand the many different types of door closer available on the market, and the individual benefits that they each have to offer.
Consider the door
The first step in selecting a door closer is making sure that it is correctly matched to the door. Door closers are available with either fixed or adjustable strengths to cater for the size and weight variation of different doors. The wider and heavier the door is, the greater the force required to control it. A closer with an adjustable strength is convenient where the size required is uncertain and facilitates a greater range of adjustment at the time of fitting. You may also require a stronger power size to overcome air pressure in a small room.
Size and space
It’s also important to consider the location and usage of the door. If the door needs to withstand frequent traffic such as in an office or corridor, you will need to make sure you plan accordingly to meet these requirements. There are usually three different levels of usage (level 1, 2 and 3), and door closers will specify which level they are most suited for. High traffic doors in places such as shopping centres, hospitals, and schools or universities should be fitted with closers that have been tested to perform to the highest number of cycles. Buildings such as care homes may require specialist fittings for less physically able users. A closer with delayed action for instance would be an ideal solution as it will allow the door to remain open for a specified period of time, allowing extra time for users to pass through safely before closing at an adjustable speed. It should be noted that the delay function should not be used on fire doors, and most closers allow the function to be disabled for this purpose.
While door closers have been seen as clunky and institutional in the past, new ranges have been developed to complement interior design, and seamlessly blend in with the decor. These are generally much slimmer and more compact, and often incorporate architectural finishes to improve their aesthetic qualities. A variety of different finishes such as polished brass; antique brass or satin nickel makes them much more visually appealing. Concealed door closers, which are hidden within the doorjamb, are a particularly popular choice, retaining the aesthetics of an interior whilst adhering to fire and accessibility regulations. This type of door closer also brings practical advantages including improved safety, through reducing the opportunity for the door closer to be vandalised or tampered with.
Safety and security
In commercial buildings such as offices, door closers are a key part of building security. While keypads or other devices can be added to lock doors, a closer will make sure that only people entering the building have access. Once the door closes automatically, unwanted intruders cannot enter the building. As specified by Approved Document B of the Building Regulations, a door closer must be fitted to any fire door to prevent the spread of flames and smoke in the event of a fire. The below checklist lists all of the essential components required to make a door closer on a fire door fully operational:
- The closer must be CE marked, and as a minimum, it is recommended a power size of 3 is specified
- The door closer must fully close and engage the latch when the door is open to 5° or 75 mm
- The closer must be free from damage and not leaking
- The closing time of the door must be no longer than 25 seconds
- The door closer must be tested and CE marked in the position it is fitted
- If a concealed overhead door closer is used, it must also be fitted with the correct intumescent material.
Electromagnetic door closers are a particularly good choice when it comes to fire safety, providing a modern alternative. Some can be wired directly into a fire detection system, allowing doors to be held open for everyday use, but which will then close upon activation of a fire alarm. Door closers are a key consideration, especially when working on public building projects. Understanding the different types will enable you to choose the best solution and achieve the highest levels of safety and security.
David Saxby is senior category manager at IronmongeryDirect