Basics of Door, Frames and Hardware

Being in the Doors, Frames and Hardware Contracting industry for 15 years, I have decided to post some Basic information on Doors, Door frames and Door hardware relating to the Australian Commercial Doors and Hardware Industry. As i work in Australia so the Jargon used here for Door hardware may be different to those in other countries. This first post is a Simple and Basic Description of the most common Commercial door hardware Jargon used in the Australian Commercial Door hardware industry. I will be concentration mainly on the Commercial Timber doors, Steel Door frames and Hardware to suit these applications for this series of posts.

door hardware, basic door hardware information
Image from Burst Images

Introduction to Door hardware

There are four main basic requirements of door hardware on any type of door to any type of project: (A) Hang the door, (B) secure the door, (C) control the door and (D) protect the door. This post will explain some of the key terms used in each of these four basic Door hardware requirements.

A-Hang or Swings The Door

Door hardware basic information
Image of Lockwood 100×100 Hinge

Hinges or pivots?

Typically hinges are used to hang and swing the door. There are a few basic types. Fixed Pin, Loose Pin and Ball bearing are the Most common types used in a Commercial project, the size of the hinge depends on the Thickness of the door leaf. There are also Continuous hinges which run the entire length of the door these are rarely used as most door frames are steel and it would require special frame preparations by a metal worker to use full length hinges. Pivots are used to hang the door when the door is heavy, the design of the door/frame requires pivots or because of an aesthetic preference. Usually Pivot sets are used on doors that have some kind of external cladding that makes the door overall thickness to large for conventional hinges. Pivot systems are also used in commercial projects such as Hospitals, Malls and High traffic projects.

There are also other methods to “Hang” a door, if the doors are sliding then there are also a few types of systems available. Cavity Sliding doors are doors that slide into a Cavity pocket when in the open position. Surface mounted sliding doors are those that are not in a cavity but will be either ceiling mounted or wall mounted on tracks.

B-Securing a Door

Door hardware basic information
Image of Lockwood 3577 Mortice lock

There are a vast and varied ways to secure a door, door security requirements depend on the Location and usage of a particular door. Residential apartments have different security requirements compared to commercial office towers which then have different requirements to that of a Hospital or Data centre.

Mechanical locks: There are many types of mechanical locks that can be used such as: tubular, cylindrical, mortise ect. There are some pros and cons of each type.

Tubular: Tubular latches have a centre spindle assembly that extends through the centre of the lock body and latch, allowing for retraction of the latch when the lever or knob is rotated. While this type of lock is very common on interior doors and in residential applications, they are considered the least secure lock type and are generally not used on high security commercial establishments.

Cylindrical: Sometimes called bored locks, Lever Lock sets or Knob sets, cylindrical locks are sturdier and considered more secure than tubular locks. The latch bolt assembly interlocks with one side of the lock chassis, making it easier to install, replace and re key. Cylindrical locks are also available in different formats that provide various levels of security, all of which use the same type of key. This allows like-keyed and master-keyed systems that use a wide variety of locks. Cylindrical locks are vulnerable to security threats that use force to break them in two pieces–known as lock snapping or cylinder snapping. There are many different Types and Brands available, and cylindrical lockets are common in residential and non commercial areas. Cylindrical lockets are also the most easy to find in general hardware stores.

Mortise: Mortise locks are considered even more secure than cylindrical locks. They require a pocket to be cut into the door where the lock is fitted. The mortise assembly generally includes the following: Lock body (the part installed inside the mortise cut-out in the door) Lock trim, which is typically available in various knob, lever, handle set and pull designs, Strike plate, Keyed cylinder to operate the locking/unlocking function of the lock body.

Mortise locks are stronger and heavier duty than cylindrical locks and Tubular Latches, making them ideal for use in hospitals and schools. They are heavy enough to support ornate and solid cast knobs and levers. Mortise locks also provide a wide variety of choices for function, trim, keying systems and finishes, allowing for architectural conformity with the design of the building or locks and door hardware already on site.

Mortise locks are most common type of lock in commercial buildings weather it be a Residential apartment or Office. In My experience Hospitals almost exclusively have Mortise type of locks installed.

Deadbolt: Deadbolts, also called deadlocks, are available with a single cylinder or a double cylinder. The single cylinder deadbolt operates by a key on the outside and a turn on the inside. A double cylinder deadbolt requires a key for unlocking on both sides of the door, and cannot be used on doors that are required for egress, except in certain locations where key-operated locks are allowed by code. With the exception of residential dwelling units, deadbolts are typically not allowed to be used on a door with another lock or latch installed, as the egress code requirements mandate one motion to unlatch an egress door. Deadlocks are not approved on many different fire doors and if your planning to install one on a fire rated doors check with the fire door manufacturer if deadbolts are approved on their doors.

Electrified hardware: Fail safe or fail secure Electrified hardware uses power to control the locking and unlocking of the door. Most electrified hardware is available in one of two functions: fail safe or fail secure. Fail safe and fail secure refers to the status of the secure side (key side, outside) of the door. Most electrified hardware allows free egress from the egress side (inside) of the door.

Basic definitions of Fail safe and Fail secure
Fail safe: Power off = Unlocked
Fail secure: Power off = Locked

There are many different types of electronic hardware used to secure doors, all electronic security of a door depends on the security consultants requirements and the level of security required per each project and also per each door location.

Some common Electrical hardware used are:

An electric strike replaces the regular strike for a lockset or panic hardware. It is used as part of an access control system to provide added security and convenience such as traffic
control and remote release. An electric strike is typically paired with a storeroom function lockset or panic hardware, so access is controlled by the electric strike.

An electro mechanical lock is a lockset that has been electrified so that it can be controlled by a card reader, remote release or other access control device. Most electro mechanical locksets allow free egress at all times.

An electromagnetic lock is an electromagnet that mounts on the frame, with a steel armature mounted on the door. When power is applied to the magnet, it bonds to the armature, securing the door. Electromagnetic locks are only available fail safe. When you remove power, the electromagnetic lock unlocks.

Electrical Security hardware should always be specified by a certified security consultant. There are many things to consider with electrified hardware which may impact a buildings conformance to BCA and AUS standards.

Fail safe locks should be used on stairwell doors requiring re-entry and any other doors which must allow free access upon fire alarm or power failure.

Fail safe electric strikes can’t be used for stairwell re-entry, because fire door assemblies require fail secure electric strikes for positive latching. (Fire doors do not require fail
secure electric locks—only fail secure electric strikes.)

Be aware that when a fail safe product is used, the door will be unlocked whenever power is removed. For example, it would be removed during a power outage and, in some
systems, during a fire alarm.

Electromagnetic locks are only available fail safe. Electric latch retraction panic hardware is only available fail secure. Fail secure products are more common than fail safe due to security concerns. Fail secure products provide security when there is no power applied. Most electrified products, with the exception of electromagnetic locks, allow free egress at all times, regardless of whether they are fail safe or fail secure.

There are also Panic Exit devices that are used to Secure a Door.

Exit devices get people out An exit device also called a crash bar, panic bar, panic device,
panic hardware or push bar, allows the exterior side of the door to be locked, while ensuring that people can always exit from the interior. Consisting of a spring-loaded
metal bar mechanism fixed horizontally to the inside of an out swinging door, it activates a mechanism which unlatches the door, allowing occupants to leave quickly when the lever is either pushed or depressed. In My experience Panic hardware is required for doors which lock or latch, serving assembly and educational usage areas with an occupant load of 50 people or more (100 people or more for some codes), and also for high hazard occupancies.

This is not a complete list of all security items to a door, each door in a particular project has its own security requirements and many doors have to meet strict construction codes.

C-Control the Door

Basic of Door hardware
Image of Lockwood 2024 Door closer

Door closer are aptly named because a door closer closes the door after it is opened manually, but it also controls the door to avoid slamming and to meet the requirements of the accessibility standards. There are both manual and electronic door closer. Choosing a door closer involves considering a variety of criteria. In addition to the closer’s performance in fire situations, other criteria may include resistance to opening forces (including heavy duty models for areas with high winds), control over the rate of closing, safety, durability, risk of vandalism and aesthetics. Some types of door closer may not be approved on Fire doors, so consideration of Fire requirements are a must when selecting a closer. There are five basic types of door closer used in a commercial setting.

Surface-mounted closers: These closers mount at the top of the door and frame—either parallel arm mount (push side), regular arm mount (pull side) or top jamb mount (push side).

Floor closers: These closers mount in the floor, and the door is typically hung on pivots. Floor closers must be carefully coordinated with the floor construction and finish flooring for proper installation.

Concealed closers: Concealed closers are mounted in the
frame head, or in the top rail of the door, when aesthetics are a concern.

High-security closers: High-security closers feature a vandal-resistant design for use where closers may be exposed to abuse or vandalism.

Electronic closers: Fire doors may not be held open mechanically, but electronic closers may be used on fire doors to hold the door open and automatically close the door when a signal is received from the fire alarm or smoke detector. A door with this type of closer is called automatic closing, while a door that closes each time it’s opened is called self-closing.

Automatic operators provide easy access Low energy automatic operators are used where a “knowing act,” such as a push button, is used to automatically open the door. They are required by code to open the door slowly and with a limited amount of force. Therefore they do not require the safety sensors and rails required for full-powered operators
like the operators seen on a grocery store entrance.

D-Protect a Door

There are many types of products designed to protect the door from wear and tear, including protective plates, push plates and pulls, edge guards, stops, gasketing and thresholds, and other miscellaneous products. When strategically placed on the door,
these items can reduce abuse and wear of the door.

Door seals: Doors sealing systems are allowed to achieve Fire, Smoke, Acoustic and Weather sealing of a door leaf which depends on the requirements of a particular area. Doors are always sealed on all sides to ensure a complete seal which will not compromise the Fire, Smoke, Acoustic requirement. Fire seals are generally Intumescent type seals where the seal expands due to heat, acoustic seals are larger and are specified when a high RW or DW rating is required to a door.

If your sealing your front Entry door against dust or weather, then there are medium duty seals that are adhesive fixed for easy DIY install.

The type and fixing of door seals require consideration of the type of door and frame the seals are to be mounted on. There are many different Manufacturers of commercial and residential seals, but proper selection requires advise from a consultant who has experience in the industry

Door Plates: Other items to Protect a door are Kick plates which are most common in commercial and public toilets and airlock doors where there is high foot traffic and damage can be done to the door from people hitting their foot on the door bottom. In heavy commercial projects such as Hospitals there are also Acrovyn door protection used as a more heavy duty and durable protection system.


This is just a basic and simple introduction, Door hardware is one of the most complicated and time consuming product on the construction site, there are many moving parts that can go missing or get damaged on site. The range and selection provided by the Manufacturers are also Vast, numbering in the Millions. To specify door hardware one must also be conversant with Doors, Door frames and Codes relating to them, therefore there are not many people in the Industry that can get it right. In the Next Blog i will discuss about Doors.

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