Selecting a Door Closer System
Eryl Jones. managing director of ASSA ABLOY Door Hardware Group, explains why accessibility and fire safety are as important as design when specifying door closer systems for public and commercial buildings.
Facilities managers are faced with a vast array of choice when it comes to selecting a new door closer system for a building, and often have to balance multiple - and frequently competing, requirements against the final cost of any solution.
Functionality and features
There are a range of key features to consider when choosing a new door closer system. Many feel that a closer door can change the ambience of a building, which is why features such as hold-open door closers are so in demand nowadays. For the elderly, more vulnerable users and those with a disability, hold-open door closers enable doors to be held open so that these individuals can move about more easily.
Another important door closer functionality is free-swing, which can be installed as a means of easing access. These are also ideally suited to environments that experience high volumes of traffic, such as offices, universities, hotels and commercial spaces. Free-swing can help to increase the fire safety of a building, too. These are typically installed at the top of a fire door, allowing the door to swing freely with little forced required to open it. However, the door closer will automatically close on a fire door should a fire alarm sound, meaning the door then acts as a barrier to stop a fire from spreading throughout a building.
It is also worth considering the benefits of soft-motion closing. This functionality closes doors in a progressive and controlled manner, following their release from hold-open or free-swing modes. This helps minimise the risk of injury for users, while also limiting damage to the doorset. Soft-motion closing can help deliver a longer-lasting solution, extending the lifespan of the doorset, while also lowering whole lifecycle costs.
Switching it up
It’s worth noting that many electro-mechanical door closers are difficult and time-consuming to change between hold-open and free-swing modes, typically requiring additional parts to do this. Their fixed power set-up – generally EN 4 – means that for larger door leaf sizes, these can be very difficult for less able users to open.
However some of the latest door closers available on the market provide the flexibility to change between hold-open and free-swing onsite modes, and can be switched from one to the other in a matter of seconds. They also offer variable power sizes of between EN 3 to 6 to allow the closing strength to be tailored to the door width and retain the lowest possible opening force, regardless of door size. As a result, door closers offering this flexibility are ideal for elderly people or those with a disability, who might be experiencing movement difficulties or strength issues.
Consider BS 8300
BS 8300-2:2018 is a British Standard that sets out how buildings should be designed, constructed and maintained to create an accessible environment for all. BS 8300 was first introduced in 2009 and was last updated in 2018. The standard is consistently updated to take account of important legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010 and Approved Document M.
The overall aim of BS 8300 is to ensure everyone can use an environment, without restriction or the need for assistance. When it comes to choosing a new door closer system for a site, facilities managers should consider solutions that are suitable for those with impairments and disabilities, to help promote easy access for all.
It is recommended that a facilities manager consults a tried and trusted security, safety and access control provider, who can advise on the most relevant parts of the standard and how BS 8300 affects guidance for building interiors.
Door closers need to provide assured protection against fire and smoke. Fire safety legislation is an ever-increasing and complex part of any building’s design, but fire doors must be self-closing. As a result, they require a CE marked and tested door closer to be fitted and maintained.
Ensure a door closer supplier has the right accreditation in place, for peace of mind that products meet the necessary standards. Accreditations such as Warringtonfire’s FIRAS Installer Certification Scheme, BM TRADA’s Q-Mark Fire Door Installation and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongery’s Diploma should be in place. Furthermore, it is essential that suppliers have a comprehensive understanding of the legislation covering fire safety matters in and around buildings, such as Approved Document B, BS EN 1634 and BS 476.
Designed to enhance
Finally, it’s important to ensure that the chosen door closer system matches the design of a building’s specification. Most facilities managers want a sophisticated and sleek design, with the latest door closers meeting this requirement. For example, the DC300G-HF door closer from ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland has been designed with soft angles and blends lightly contrasting colours and finishes to enhance a building’s door design. Perfect for all kinds of building environments, the door closer features neat chamfered edges and strong lines for a modern and contemporary feel.