Guide to Choosing The Right Door Closer | Discount Door Hardware

Choosing the right door closer

Choosing the Right Door Closer – A Quick Reference Guide

Choosing the right door closer is an important undertaking and it can be a little confusing for some! This article will provide you with the information and guidance you need to help you choose the door closer that is best suited for your requirements.
Consider these important factors before choosing a door closer:

  • Size and weight of the door
  • Location of the door
  • Opening and closing frequency
  • Mounting options and type of closer
  • Backcheck requirements
  • Code requirements

Size and Weight of the Door

Door closer power sizes (spring power) are classified from 1 – 6 (1 being the lowest power and 6 being the highest power.) Some door closers come with a non-adjustable fixed power size from the factory but many door closers have field adjustable sizing that can be done on site prior to installation by turning a screw or nut on the closer to either increase or decrease the spring power. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended settings for sizing adjustment based on the door width. The wider and heavier the door is, the greater the force required to control it. Typically, door height does not have a significant impact on a door closer’s operation.

Location of the Door / Opening and Closing Frequency

Consider the location of the door and the volume of traffic to ensure the best door closer is selected for the job. You may also require a stronger power size to overcome air pressure in a small room or wind conditions on an exterior door.

Grade 1 Door Closer – High Traffic – 100,000 – 500,000 cycles per year

Grade 2 Door Closer – Medium Traffic – 10,000 – 100,000 cycles per year

Grade 3 Door Closer – Low Traffic – 10,000 cycles per year

High traffic doors in places such as hospitals, arenas, shopping malls, and high schools should be fitted with Grade 1 door closers that have been tested to perform to the highest number of cycles.

Medium traffic doors in places such as small commercial buildings, churches, pre-schools and retail stores can be fitted with Grade 2 door closers that have been tested to perform to the second highest number of cycles.

Low traffic doors such as condo or apartment entry doors or closets doors in an office can be fitted with Grade 3 or economy door closers that have been tested to perform to the minimum number of cycles.

Mounting Options and Type of Closer

There are several types of closers that can be installed onto doors and door frames in different ways. Surface mounted door closers are cost-effective and reliable and also the most common choice. These closers can typically be installed three different ways – regular arm mounted, parallel arm mounted and top jamb mounted.

Regular Arm:
A regular arm mounted door closer is a pull-side application. It is located at the top of the pull-side of the door near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to the frame; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. When the door is in the closed position, the arms project out perpendicular to the door, which is less attractive than other mounting applications; however, this is the most power-efficient option available. This application is most suitable for interior doors where power and function are critical and aesthetics are not of great importance.

Parallel Arm:
A parallel arm mounted door closer is a push-side application. It is located at the top of the push-side of the door near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to a parallel arm bracket or soffit plate on the underside of the frame header; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. When the door is in the closed position, the arms are tucked underneath the frame header which provides a more aesthetically pleasing installation than either the regular arm or top jamb options. Parallel arm mounting also reduces the risk of vandalism to the arms, particularly in schools and commercial properties. Due to the configuration of the arms, this application is a little less power efficient than the regular arm or top jamb options, but is still useful, especially for exterior doors.

Top Jamb:
A top jamb mounted door closer is a push-side application. It is located on the push-side of the door but on the face of the frame header near the top hinge. In this application, the main arm is attached to the closer and the extension arm is attached to the door; the two arms are connected to form a pivot point. Like the regular arm mounted closer, when the door is in the closed position, the arms project out perpendicular to the door, which is less attractive than other mounting applications; and like the regular arm mounted closer, this is the most power-efficient option available. This application is most suitable and most common for exterior aluminum storefront doors. A drop plate is sometimes required because of the narrow top rail of the door or the narrow frame face.

There is also a sliding track application which is much less common and more costly and is usually only available with higher end door closers and for very specific applications.

Overhead concealed door closers are costly and are typically used where aesthetics and security are paramount. They are installed and hidden from view inside the top rail of the door or inside the frame header.

Floor closers are a durable, long lasting option when dealing with heavy doors or areas with very high traffic. They are typically installed recessed into the floor and the bottom rail of the door and, because of the installation method and the maintenance associated with these floor closers, they are a very costly option.

Backcheck or No Backcheck?

Backcheck is an adjustable feature available on many door closers that provides “resistance” to prevent the door from being thrown open (by people or the wind) and causing personal injury or damage to the door, door handles or walls! All Grade 1 and Grade 2 door closers are equipped with a backcheck valve. Most economy door closers are not equipped with this feature, so even if the door in question is very low traffic but you will require backcheck to help prevent damage or personal injury, then you should select a Grade 2 closer for the door.

Fire Code and ADA Requirements

Door closers are an important component in the control of fire and smoke and it is critical that they are selected and installed properly.

The use of a cUL (in Canada) or a UL (in USA) marked door closer is mandatory to ensure that the product you are using meets all legal requirements and is suitable for use in fire rated assemblies.

Door closers installed in fire rated assemblies should not include a hold-open device, unless it is an electrically powered device interfaced to the building’s fire alarm system, such as an electro-magnetic door holder.

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides clear requirements with regards to doors and door closers. The ADA states that interior doors should require no more than 5 lbs. of force to operate and exterior doors should require the minimum force possible. The ADA also states that the closing speed shall exceed 5 seconds and that the latching speed should be fast enough to latch the door, but not to allow it to slam into the frame. Accessibility standards are also enforced in Canada (more specifically in the Province of Ontario) based on ADA regulations, but at the time this article was published, the Canadian Government had not yet introduced a Federal Disability Act. Door closers that have been identified as “barrier free” are suitable for use in ADA compliant openings.

In summation, it is important to ensure all applicable local fire codes and building codes are complied with when selecting a door closer.

Door Closer Installation

When the time comes to purchase new door closers or to replace or upgrade your old ones, you can trust Discount Door Hardware.ca to provide you with the best selection of quality door closers to suit a variety of applications and specifications! We also offer a growing inventory of hand tools, drill bits, power tools and specialized accessories to facilitate door hardware installations for both homeowners and contractors! Visit our online store or contact us today!