Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Allegion
Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Oct 30 2012

Decoded: Door Swing and Encroachment (January 2013)

Category: DHI,EgressLori @ 4:08 pm Comments (25)
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This post was printed in the January 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware

.[Click here to download the reprint of this article.]

What determines the direction in which a door must swing?

According to the 2009 edition of the International Building Code (1008.1.2), if a door is a required egress door, it generally needs to be a swinging door that is hung on hinges or pivots. There are several exceptions to this requirement, which would allow a different type of door to be used in certain applications:

  • Private garages, office areas, factory and storage areas with an occupant load of 10 or less.
  • Group I-3 occupancies used as a place of detention.
  • Critical or intensive care patient rooms within suites of health care facilities.
  • Doors within or serving a single dwelling unit in Groups R-2 and R-3.
  • In other than Group H occupancies, revolving doors complying with Section 1008.1.4.1.
  • In other than Group H occupancies, horizontal sliding doors complying with Section 1008.1.4.3 are permitted in a means of egress.
  • Power-operated doors in accordance with Section 1008.1.4.2.
  • Doors serving a bathroom within an individual sleeping unit in Group R-1.
  • In other than Group H occupancies, manually operated horizontal sliding doors are permitted in a means of egress from spaces with an occupant load of 10 or less.

Several of these exceptions address horizontal sliding doors – including the sliding office doors that have become more common due to the high price of square footage and the amount of floor space a typical swinging door requires. Sliding doors to individual bathrooms are also being used more often due to space constraints. The exceptions for power-operated doors, horizontal sliding doors, and revolving doors refer to additional requirements that include provisions for egress through these doors – revolving doors must “collapse”, sliders must be able to be opened with a force perpendicular to the door – commonly referred to as “breakout” or “breakaway”, and there are maximum force requirements for these operations.

This section of the IBC also addresses the direction of door swing. In High Hazard (Group H) occupancies, all doors must swing in the direction of egress travel, regardless of the occupant load. In other occupancy types, the door must swing in the direction of egress travel when the door is serving 50 or more occupants.

2009 IBC, section 1008.1.2: “Doors shall swing in the direction of egress travel where serving an occupant load of 50 or more persons or a Group H occupancy.”  

The 2009 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code (7.2.1.4.2) also requires doors to swing in the direction of egress travel when serving a High Hazard occupancy of any occupant load, or other occupancy types with an occupant load of 50 or more (with limited exceptions for horizontal sliding doors and smoke barrier doors in existing health care occupancies). In addition, NFPA 101 requires doors leading to an exit enclosure to swing in the direction of egress travel, except when the door serves an individual living unit that opens directly into the exit enclosure.

Depending on the code being enforced, other locations where doors are required to swing in the direction of egress travel may include refrigeration machinery rooms (IBC), certain electric rooms (NFPA 70 – National Electric Code, and the IBC), some stair doors in Mercantile occupancies (NFPA 101), and doors in aircraft loading walkways (NFPA 101). Consult the applicable code or standard for more information on these requirements.

Encroachment

When a door swings in the direction of egress travel it may swing into a corridor that is part of an egress path, where a certain egress width must be maintained. The term “encroachment” refers to how far a door projects into the required egress width, and it is measured with the door in two different positions – with the door in its fully-open position, and with the door in the position where it encroaches upon the egress width to the greatest extent (often 90 degrees).

The minimum egress width is defined by the 2009 IBC, Section 1018.2 (see text below).  Egress width is determined by one of two methods – either the width required by this section, or a calculation based on the number of occupants and a width factor (the greater of the two prevails). For example, the 2009 IBC (1005.1) uses a factor of 0.2 inches per occupant for egress components other than stairways (0.3 inches per occupant for stairways). If a corridor is serving as a required means of egress for 300 occupants, the required egress width is 5 feet (300 occupants x 0.2 inches per occupant = 60 inches). This required egress width is greater than the minimum corridor width of 44″ required by section 1018.2.

2009 IBC, Section 1018.2: “Corridor width. The minimum corridor width shall be as determined in Section 1005.1, but not less than 44 inches (1118 mm).

Exceptions:
1. Twenty-four inches (610 mm)—For access to and utilization of electrical, mechanical or plumbing systems or equipment.
2. Thirty-six inches (914 mm)—With a required occupant capacity of less than 50.
3. Thirty-six inches (914 mm)—Within a dwelling unit.
4. Seventy-two inches (1829 mm)—In Group E with a corridor having a required capacity of 100 or more.
5. Seventy-two inches (1829 mm)—In corridors and areas serving gurney traffic in occupancies where patients receive outpatient medical care, which causes the patient to be not capable of self-preservation.
6. Ninety-six inches (2438 mm)—In Group I-2 in areas where required for bed movement.”

When a door swings into the required egress width, the encroachment must be considered.  According to section 1005.2 of the 2009 IBC, a door may not reduce the required egress width by more than one-half at any point during the door’s swing. For example, if a corridor is 5 feet wide and the required egress width is 5 feet, a 3-foot door swinging into that corridor will encroach too far into the required egress width, because at 90 degrees the door will obstruct more than half of the width. These restrictions do not apply to doors within individual dwelling units or sleeping units of R-2 and R-3 occupancies, which would include apartments, hotels, dormitories, and child/adult care facilities.

The same section states that when doors are fully open they may not reduce the required means of egress width by more than 7 inches. Section 1005.3 of the 2009 IBC states that the “surface-mounted latch release hardware” mounted on the corridor side of the open door is exempt from inclusion in the 7-inch projection when it is mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the finished floor. NFPA 101 (2009) contains very similar requirements in section Section 7.2.1.4.3.

One piece of hardware to consider with regard to encroachment is the door closer, because it may limit the fully-open position of the door. For example, a closer with a built-in stop (or a separate overhead stop) may have a maximum degree of opening of 110 degrees. The corridor must be wide enough to provide the required egress width with the door in this position – the door is only allowed to project 7 inches into the required width when it is fully open, 110 degrees in this case.

Graphic: International Building Code Commentary – 2009 Edition

In Summary

Doors must typically swing in the direction of egress travel when serving:

  • A High-Hazard occupancy of any occupant load.
  • Any occupancy type with an occupant load of 50 or more occupants (consult the code for exceptions).
  • Exit enclosure doors except when serving one living unit (NFPA 101 only).

Two measurements must be taken into account with regard to encroachment:

  • The door may not extend more than halfway into the required egress width at any point in the door’s swing.
  • The door may not extend more than 7 inches into the required egress width when in the fully-open position. Latching hardware on the corridor side of the open door is not taken into account if it is mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the finished floor.

Codes may vary depending on the edition adopted as well as local requirements. Consult the applicable codes for more information. The Authority Having Jurisdiction makes the final determination on matters related to code compliance.

This post was originally created on October 30, 2012, and was printed in the January 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware magazine.

25 Responses to “Decoded: Door Swing and Encroachment (January 2013)”

  1. Linda Hardy says:

    How loaded can I get before Single Operation Egress can be necessary?

    …worried in Geneseo…

  2. Tom Breese says:

    Nice work, Lori! Well-written, nothing to edit, and it’s even California-legal, too. Now, if the rest of the continent would catch up with us regarding lever-handle return design (tongue-in-cheek).

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Tom! I should have you and someone from NYC review all of my articles because those two places seem to have the “alternative” sets of code requirements.

  3. Paki Muthig says:

    Thanks for the post. I have one question regarding service or mechanical access doors. Are they also required to not block an egress path and fall under the same restrictions as normal doors?

    Thanks

    • Lori says:

      Hi Paki –

      There are no special requirements regarding service or mechanical doors, other than the requirement for panic hardware on some electrical rooms. Maybe if you describe your specific situation I can be more helpful.

      – Lori

  4. Al says:

    Section 1005.2 states that “Doors in any position shall not reduce the required width by more than one half”. The diagram above where the door is at 90 degree swing, the distance at the edge of the door (latch side) and the corridor wall shouldn’t be “not less than one half”? Instead of “required width less 7 inches” as shown in the diagram?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Al –

      There are two measurements to take into consideration – one with the door fully open, and one where the door is extending into the required clear width to the greatest extent. The graphic is from the IBC Commentary, and in the example on the right they’re showing a door that can only open to 90 degrees because of the wall condition (I know it looks like the door can open past 90 but that’s what they’re trying to illustrate). In the fully-open position the door is allowed to encroach on the required clear width by 7″ so I think the diagram is correct.

      – Lori

  5. Al says:

    In the above example, the required width is 60″, what if the corridor provided is 84″ over width by 24″. Can the 36″ door swing into the corridor at 90 degree position? OR still the minimum required width applies in determining how much you can encroach into the corridor?

    • Lori says:

      It’s the required corridor width that the code is trying to maintain – not the overall corridor width. If the required corridor width is 60″ and the overall corridor width is 84″, the two measurements would be as follows:
      1) If the door can only open to 90 degrees because it is being restricted by the closer, stop, or wall condition, then (in round numbers) it will protrude into the required clear width (60″) by 12″, which is more than the 7″ allowable encroachment in the fully-open position.
      2) If the door can open past 90 degrees, to the point where it is only protruding into the required clear width (60″) by 7″, then it’s acceptable because at the point where it encroaches to the greatest extent (90 degrees) it still leaves half the required width clear. The required clear width is 60″ – half of that is 30″, and you’d have 48″ clear.

      Keep in mind that the required clear width depends on the “corridor width” section of the IBC and the required egress capacity.

  6. Tim says:

    Lori I believe the code intends that the required width of the MOE not be reduced more than 50% by the door swing, regardless of whether or not it is restricted by a closer. If at any point during the swing the encroachment of the door reduces the required MOE width to less than 50%, the door is not compliant.

    Keep up the great work, google has sent me here many times!

    Tim in NY

    • Lori says:

      Hi Tim –

      I agree – the door can’t reduce the clear width to less than half of the required width at any point during its swing, but there is also a limit of 7″ of encroachment with the door in the fully-open position. If a closer or overhead stop limits the degree of opening to 90 degrees, for example, the door in that position can’t project more than 7″ into the required clear width. Many doors swinging into a corridor can open to 180 degrees, but not always.

      – Lori

  7. Betty says:

    I looking to see if there is a code exception to the FBC 2010 in that we can used a sliding “barn” door for emergency department exam rooms that do not need to be powered?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Betty –

      I think the exception you’re looking for is here:

      1008.1.2 Door swing. Egress doors shall be of the pivoted or side-hinged swinging type.
      Exceptions:
      1. Private garages, office areas, factory and storage areas with an occupant load of 10 or less.
      2. Group I-3 occupancies used as a place of detention.
      3. Critical or intensive care patient rooms within suites of health care facilities.
      4. Doors within or serving a single dwelling unit in Groups R-2 and R-3.
      5. In other than Group H occupancies, revolving doors complying with Section 1008.1.4.1.
      6. In other than Group H occupancies, horizontal sliding doors complying with Section 1008.1.4.3 are permitted in a means of egress.
      7. Power-operated doors in accordance with Section 1008.1.4.2.
      8. Doors serving a bathroom within an individual sleeping unit in Group R-1.
      9. In other than Group H occupancies, manually operated horizontal sliding doors are permitted in a means of egress from spaces with an occupant load of 10 or less.
      Doors shall swing in the direction of egress travel where serving a room or area containing an occupant load of 50 or more persons or a Group H occupancy.

  8. Gordiz says:

    How do you feel about having an entrance door swing opposite of the security door on a single dwelling?

    Does it meet code for life safety?

  9. DIY Barn Door says:

    Its really too bad that a sliding barn type door isn’t allowed for more application. The swing would be of less importance and a safety factor as well as a space saving factor as well. I think using modern DIY barn door hardware would make the installation and operation totally safe as well.

  10. Callie- CA Arch says:

    Hi! Great article.
    I am having a sticking point with a colleague over the definition of “Required Width”. The corridor itself is required to be 60″ to allow for accessibility. However, the calculation of .2 x Occupant Load is much smaller (10″). With doors open, is the minimum clearance 5″ or 30″? I have seen this accepted with the smaller number (5″) in the past. Your thoughts?

  11. Callie says:

    Thanks Lori… I guess I wasn’t clear in my question though!
    What we’re really looking at is the encroachment of an open door into the “required exit width” of the corridor. And what the exact definition of required exit width is. My colleague and I are batting this around… In a 44″ corridor with an exiting load of 100 (so, 20″ required) would the remaining clear exit width of the corridor when the door is fully open need to be 22″ or would 10″ suffice? (I say 10″, he says 22″).
    Thanks for your forum!

  12. David Liboon says:

    Hi Lori –
    Is there any specific code that prohibits/restricts the swing of a restroom stall door inside stall and possibly hitting an accessory when it’s in an open-position (i.e. baby-changing station inside stall). This is for single-use and I would argue that baby changing station is not always in an open-position. Theoretically, if someone is inside the stall, then door would be locked and no one can enter. I would have included a sketch to illustrate exact condition but this platform does not allow that option. Appreciate any feedback.

    David

    • Lori says:

      Hi David –

      There are accessibility requirements for clear floor space around bathroom fixtures in accessible restrooms and stalls, but I haven’t seen anything in the codes or standards about something like a baby changing station which has an open position and a closed position. If you’d like to send me the sketch I can ask the ICC for staff opinion. My email is lori.greene@allegion.com.

      – Lori

  13. Dan Michal says:

    Lori,
    I’m an architect working on an optometrists’ office. I’ve discouraged them from trying to use sliding barn doors for their small exam rooms because of the normal code requirement of side-hinged winging doors in any means of egress. You have a great article but can you be more specific about this exception in 1008.1.2 ?
    “9. In other than Group H occupancies, manually operated horizontal sliding doors are permitted in a means of egress from spaces with an occupant load of 10 or less.” So, since no other specifics are given there, can we take it that no horizontal applied force perpendicular to the door is necessary? (like would be in the break-sway commercial powered auto-sliding doors). The owner wants to use basic sliding barn door tracks applied to the wall and so obviously it is not a break-away engineered system. Do you think that meets the definition of manually operated horizontal door? Thankfully the occ. load from these spaces is less than 10, and the bldg is fully sprinklered and my hall is non-rated. Thanks.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Dan –

      My understanding is that the breakaway/breakout feature is not required for manual sliding doors serving an occupant load of 10 or less. So for these exam rooms, you could use manual sliders on standard track and they would not have to swing in the direction of egress – they could slide horizontally.

      – Lori

  14. Valarie says:

    I hate to disagree with Tom, but for OSHPD projects (medical projects) in California they are still including both levers in the 7 inch rule.

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