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Dec 21 2017

Code Requirements for Manually-Operated Sliding Doors

Category: Accessibility,EgressLori @ 12:33 am Comments (2)

I have just finished creating the last two classes to complete my ShortCodes series of about 50 on-demand classes!  Today’s post covers the code requirements for manually-operated sliding doors, because I need this information compiled into a post that I can reference for one of the final ShortCodes classes.  I hope to have these classes loaded into iDigHardware’s new learning management system within the next month, so you can try them out!


Manually-operated sliding doors are not always allowed in a means of egress, since the model codes require side-hinged or pivoted swinging doors for most locations.  The International Building Code (IBC) currently contains 9 exceptions where swinging doors are not required:

  1. Private garages, office areas, or factory/storage areas with an occupant load of 10 or less
  2. Detention areas (I-3 use group)
  3. Some types of patient rooms within suites in a health care facility
  4. Dwelling units in Groups R-2 and R-3
  5. Revolving doors complying with Section 1010.1.4.1, except in High Hazard occupancies
  6. Special purpose horizontal sliding, accordion, or folding door assemblies complying with Section 1010.1.4.3, except in High Hazard occupancies (these are power-operated doors that are usually in the open position but may close upon fire alarm)
  7. Power-operated doors complying with Section 1010.1.4.2 (these are automatic sliders with the breakout/breakaway feature)
  8. Bathroom doors in an R-1 dwelling unit
  9. Manually-operated horizontal sliding doors serving an area with an occupant load of 10 or less, except in High Hazard occupancies

Item 9 addresses manually-operated horizontal sliding doors, and limits their use to doors serving an occupant load of 10 people or less, in any occupancy with the exception of High Hazard.  Many of the requirements for manually-operated sliding doors are the same as those for swinging doors, but it’s important to know where they differ:

Opening Force – Opening force for manually-operated sliding and folding doors is limited to 5 pounds of opening force, maximum.  This limitation does not include the force required to release the lock or latch.

Clear Opening Width –  The minimum allowable clear opening width for a sliding or folding door that is part of an accessible route is 32 inches.

10-inch High Flush Bottom Rail – Sliding doors are exempt from this requirement which applies to the push side of manual swinging doors.

Maneuvering Clearance – The maneuvering clearance required for sliding doors is different from the amount of clearance required for swinging doors, because of the method of operation and the fact that there is no need to maneuver out of the path of the door swing.  The ADA standards (free download here) include the following table and graphics to illustrate the required maneuvering clearance for sliding doors, as well as folding doors and doorways without doors:

Hardware – Operable hardware on sliding doors must be operable without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist, with a limited amount of force, and must be mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor.  In addition, the hardware must be exposed and usable from both sides when the sliding door is in the fully-open position.  In the past, sliding pocket doors often had an edge pull, and would slide all the way into the pocket.  Most AHJs do not consider an edge pull operable without tight grasping or pinching, and when the door is in the pocket, the hardware is not exposed and usable from both sides.

To comply with current accessibility requirements, sliding doors are typically equipped with surface-mounted door pulls on each side of the door, and the door does not slide all the way into the pocket or beyond the door frame if it’s a slider mounted on the face of the wall.  When the door is fully open or fully closed, there should be at least 1 1/2 inches of space between the door pull and the frame, as well as behind the door pull.  Keep in mind that the surface-mounted hardware and required clearance will affect the clear opening width when the door is in the fully-open position.

Current accessibility standards require operable hardware for sliding doors to be exposed and usable from both sides when the sliding door is in the fully-open position.

Flush pulls and edge pulls that were once common allow pocket doors to slide completely into the pocket and require a high level of dexterity to operate. This hardware is not generally considered compliant with current accessibility standards.

2 Responses to “Code Requirements for Manually-Operated Sliding Doors”

  1. Cda says:

    I had a home assisted living install

    Rated sliding doors

    The state assisted living inspector wanted latching hardware.

    Owner had a hard time finding hardware

    They used something like this::

  2. Leo says:

    WOW! A wonderful post! I can’t wait for your ShortCodes series!

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