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How heavy is your commercial door? | Are your exterior doors in snow zones? | How high are the door traffic and abuse? | Does it need to meet fire codes? | Will it require electric prep?

storefront doorYou can find commercial doors installed in retail buildings, schools, hospitals, municipal, government and office buildings and manufacturing facilities. Typically, they are made with more durable materials than residential doors, including wood, steel, glass, fiberglass and aluminum and glass.

Choosing the right hinge to match your commercial door is important. The wrong choice can lead to: unsecured entryways, failure to meet fire codes, unsightly corrosion, squeaking, hinge bind, more frequent maintenance and higher repair costs. Here are some questions to ask before choosing your commercial door hinges and some options to consider.

1. How heavy is your commercial door? 

The heavier your commercial door, the harder your hinge design has to work to swing it open and close. Solid wood, all-glass or extra-tall or thick steel doors weigh the most. In these extra-heavy applications: 

A graphic showing the differences between continuous hinges versus conventional butt hinges.

Continuous hinges, such as SELECT Hinges geared continuous and pin and barrel continuous hinge designs, are a top choice for any commercial door except all-glass and ultra-heavy doors. These architectural-grade hinges attach to the full height of the door. This distributes the weight of the door along the full length of the frame and reduces stress on the hinge. Expect these hinges to last 10 times longer than standard butt or mortise hinges. 

Pivot hinges support the bottom and top of the door. Heavier doors require intermediate pivot hardware to keep the door aligned. If you are using pivot hinges on wider openings, it’s best to install two side-by-side commercial doors — which will add to your initial and future maintenance costs. 

Butt hinges, while they offer designs for standard, medium and heavier weight doors, they perform best in the lower weight ranges. Expect to do more maintenance and replacement with these hinges in any door weight application; they typically last only five to seven years on standard weight doors, less time with heavier doors. 

2. Are your exterior commercial or storefront doors installed in a snow zone?

corroded door frameContinuous hinges are more economical than concealed hinges on exterior commercial door applications in northern U.S. states. SELECT Hinges corrosion- and rust-resistant anodized aluminum geared continuous and stainless steel pin and barrel continuous hinges are made in Michigan where snow, salt and moisture create door problems for other types of hinges. They are field-proven to last decades without the door sagging, dragging or warping. 

Pivot hinges are fair-weather choices for exterior doors. Salt used at entrances corrodes the bottom pivot hardware, requiring more frequent replacement.

Butt hinges create their share of woes in winter-weather states. Changing weather and temperatures can cause the door or its frame, especially natural wood doors, to expand and contract. The warping causes the door to get stuck in the jamb. Yanking and pushing the door open can strain and loosen the hinges until the door no longer latches — a serious security issue for commercial buildings and schools.
Another sure sign that winter is knocking at your butt-hinged exterior doors is the irritating squeaking that happens this time of year. To lubricate the butt hinge, you must pull the pin, oil then replace it — a maintenance issue when no one wants to be outside doing it. 

3. How high is your door traffic?

What’s your average traffic count going in and out of your doors? High schools, colleges and many retail outlet doors see hundreds of open-shuts every day. Junior high to college students are renowned for shoving or quickly kicking the push bar when exiting. Both the high door traffic and abuse can shorten the lives of most hinges and lead to overextensions on some.

Continuous hinges are far-and-away the best choice for high-traffic and rugged-use entryways. SELECT geared continuous hinges have been tested to last over 25 million open/close cycles or 60 years of high-traffic use. Once these hinges are installed, it’s unlikely you will ever replace them. No other hinge design matches this or their Continuous Warranty.

Concealed hinges may not have the continuous hinges’ durability, but they swing open 180-degrees, which can be an advantage on wide entryways.

4. Do your commercial exterior or interior doors need to meet local fire codes? Hurricane codes? Ballistic or ligature resistance?

Depending on the type of commercial building you are building or remodeling and where it is located, your doors may need to comply with a variety of codes and regulations. The hinges and accessories you choose can make it easier or harder to pass inspections year after year.

Fire-rated hinges

Typically, hinges are UL fire-rated for 90 minutes or three hours. It is smart to purchase hinges with a 90-minute or three-hour fire rating right out of the box. If you have to modify door components in the field, it will require re-inspection and recertification. 

Continuous hinges from SELECT Hinges can come with a 90-minute or three-hour fire rating. These hinges are designed for maximum adjustability and flexibility so they can be installed easily within 30 minutes to an hour. Half-surface geared continuous hinges allow you to install smoke gasketing without binding the door. 

Butt hinges can take hours of manipulation to get the fire door to close properly. Once you install the fire door, it will require ongoing butt hinge adjustments to stay within code.

Use this checklist to prep for your next fire code inspection 

Hurricane-rated hinges

Many states and islands in high-velocity hurricane zones demand that doors and their hardware meet stringent requirements. Most standard commercial doors and hinges cannot withstand the high winds and flying debris of a hurricane. 

Continuous hinges made by SELECT Hinges are approved by the Florida Building Code (FBC), some of the toughest high-impact requirements in the U.S.

Ballistic-resistant hinges

Heightened security at schools, municipal and government buildings often focuses on preventing forced entry through the building doors. Most standard hinge designs cannot withstand high-powered rifle fire or an assault with sledgehammers, wedges and other tools. 

Continuous hinges, made by SELECT Hinges, were put through rigorous security testing. They have the highest-level ballistic-resistance certification by the U.S. Department of State. 

Ligature-resistant hinges

Hospitals and behavioral health facilities must comply with The Joint Commission’s safety regulations to get federal funding. A key factor is ensuring that patients cannot hang objects from doors or door hardware that could physically harm them. There are commercial bathroom doors that use pivot hinges and a load-release magnet technology that releases the door under a maximum weight of 11 lbs. A more practical solution for standard interior doors is to install:

Continuous hinges with SELECT ligature-resistant tips.

5. Will your commercial door require an electric prep?

Hundreds of variations for electrical preps and hinge accessories exist. Over the past 10 years, there have been major technological advances in these preps. For a long time, there was also a high failure rate caused by wire breakage from repeated door cycles. New wires are now available that can cycle over a million times before fraying or snapping. 

Continuous hinges from SELECT Hinges have a prep that lets you electrically modify concealed hinges so you can access wire problems and make repairs in less than five minutes. Learn more about the ATW (Accessible Through-Wire) prep here.

Get expert advice on choosing the right hinge for your commercial door application

Whether your commercial door is new or existing, asking these five questions before choosing your hinge designs can save you hours of maintenance, hundreds of dollars in repairs and replacement and give you the peace of mind that your property is secure within your doors. Talk today with a SELECT Hinges sales representative about whether a geared continuous or pin and barrel continuous hinge is the right solution for your building. Getting solid, problem-preventing advice starts by locating your representative today.

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A list of publications that we recommend

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Bob Cronk
Former Leader and Really Nice Guy

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Stephen Pyatte
Vice President of Sales & Marketing

McElrath

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Chris Orme
Midwest Regional Sales Manager

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Frank Garza
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