The incorrect specification of ironmongery can turn a fully certificated door assembly into a pointless and dangerous door which could endanger lives and affect the safety of a whole building.
It is common practice for door companies, like Stairways Midlands, to supply door assemblies. This is not out of choice, but generally the norm. Many people can mistake these for door sets. However, they are, in fact, door assemblies as they are not supplied with all of the essential ironmongery components for it to be classed as a door set. The customer will then purchase and fit the remaining ironmongery components on site, things like door closers, handles and fire signage.
Many ironmongery products on the market are designed for specific uses and situations. It can be very difficult to choose the correct item for the job. Unfortunately, many people make the product choice based on cost only. This can cause major safety issues.
Let’s take door closers as an example, as this is the main component that isn’t supplied with a door assembly. Very few door closer manufacturers will have products that do not comply with fire regulations – but you should always check and never assume.
So, we have a closer company that has a range of three closers. All three have been fire tested and comply with the minimum power size of three for a fire door.
We will call them “Basic”, “Middle” and “Top” as model names.
“Basic” is a fixed-power, size three closer with no back check, but does have closing speed, latching speed adjustment and only a 10-year warranty. Cost is the lowest in the range (£).
“Middle” is an adjustable power size two to four, with back check, latching speed etc. It also comes with a 15-year warranty. Cost is mid-range (££).
“Top” is an adjustable power size three to five, with back check and all other adjustments. This comes with a 25-year warranty and is a slightly different design in the way the closer works, as it is more efficient and could be Part M compliant depending on other factors. Cost is higher (£££).
So, our door set being fitted is a communal area door in an apartment block – the door assembly leading from the stairwell into the communal lobby. Note, the building does not have a lift so this would be the main access point.
Which door closer would you choose?
It is common that the “Basic” closer would be chosen, purely down to cost. This would still comply with building regs and fire certification requirements. However, the product would not be fit for purpose due to the high usage this door would get and the situation it is in. It may start to fail after a few months or, in fact, not work correctly from the start.
So, you’re now asking yourself which one out of the other two would I choose? Well the “Middle” closer would be OK as long as this was a very small occupancy block. That said, this product would be best suited to a flat entrance door. That way, this door type would not be subjected to as high traffic compared to that of a communal area door.
That leaves you with the “Top” closer. This is specifically designed for high-usage doors and has design features specific for this situation, like Part M compliance.
You may now be thinking, is the product I currently use fit for purpose, or which product should I specify or allow for on my next project? Well, the best thing to do is to speak to your door supplier and ask their advice. Can be supplied as part of the assembly? Speak to your preferred ironmongery supplier.
This guidance can be used on other building types, like hospitals and commercial buildings, as well as for other ironmongery components, especially the essential ones, namely hinges, closers, locks, latches and air transfer grills.
Don’t forget, ironmongery should be checked regularly after fitting in line with your maintenance programme to ensure the product continues to function as it should.
Buy once and get it right first time.
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