If you’ve ever specified storefront doors and hardware, you’ve probably run into the problem of meeting the International Building Code requirement stated in section 1008.1.8 Door Operations. Or, perhaps, section 1008.1.8.1 Hardware.
Often, the manufacturer’s standard hardware arrangement is accepted by the architect and considered solved because of section 1008.1.8.3 Locks and Latches, condition 2.2. This condition allows the deadbolt lock if signage is provided above the door that states “THIS DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED WHEN BUILDING IS OCCUPIED.”
The owner just needs to keep the door unlocked while someone is inside, and voila, we’re good.
More and more, jurisdictions will no longer allow this. Building officials are requiring that door hardware be operable at all times, whether the door is locked or not. The problem is usually this: storefront doors come with push/pull handles and a thumb-turn operated deadbolt, which do not comply with the building code nor the ADA/ANSI 117.1 standards. Furthermore, buildings are often occupied after normal operating hours, evenings or weekends in the case of an office, and someone could become trapped in an emergency.
Now what? There are options….
One of the easiest solutions is to add a panic or push bar to the door assembly and there are two primary operations: rods or a rim device. The rim device utilizes a latch to hold the door closed, and that latch can be locked to secure the door. The rod assembly doesn’t use a deadbolt, rather vertical rods are thrust into the frame head and the floor in order to secure the door. The push bar, when depressed, will retract the rods and the door is free to open. Rods can be concealed within the door stile or they can be surface mounted.
The panic bar option, although meeting virtually all egress requirements, is probably the most costly.
Another solution is an actual lever handle which takes the place of the thumb turn on the interior side of the door. Same concept as the panic bar, when the handle is turned, the deadbolt releases and the door is free. Although this option is fairly popular, the handles have been known to shear off after some use. Be sure to specify heavy duty or extra heavy duty hardware.
A third option is a push paddle. These are approximately 6 inches wide by 4 inches high. The placement can be the same as the lever handle, or it can be placed lower on the door in lieu of the standard push handle in order to keep the thumb turn or key cylinder to throw the lock. Although this solution works well, this seems to be a less popular option perhaps only because of limited information available.
On large projects, it is beneficial to work with a consultant that specializes in doors and door hardware. The building code and the ADA contain a maze of requirements for doors and its easy to get lost. These consultants will often generate your schedule, write your spec, and review your submittals in exchange for specifying their product lines.