I received a question the other day about grouting hollow metal frames.  Is it recommended?  Necessary?  I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about grout, but I do know people who do – and some of you are reading this right now!

I checked out what the Steel Door Institute (SDI) had to say, and this article talks about the risks associated with grouting frames.  For frames in drywall construction, grouting the frame is not recommended because the moisture will either affect the drywall or the frame.  If grouted frames are desired for masonry construction, the grout should be troweled, not pumped in as a thin slurry which has excess water that could cause the frames to rust.  Check out the SDI article for links to additional resources on grouted frames.

The Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) has a publication on grouting hollow metal frames, which suggests that grout may improve frame durability, sound deadening, and anchorage strength, and recommends grouted frames for detention applications.  The publication also warns against grout that is improperly used, describes the potential negative effects, and includes recommended practices for using grout in hollow metal frames.

The Steelcraft Technical Data Manual includes the following cautionary information with regard to grout:

Installation Caution Notice – Grouted Frames:

When temperature conditions necessitate an additive to be used in the mortar to prevent freezing, the contractor installing the frames must coat the inside of frames in the field with a corrosion resistant coating per SDI 105.

When frames are to be grouted full, silencers must be field installed prior to grouting.

Steel frames, including fire rated frames, do not require grouting. Grouting is not recommended for frames in drywall.

Steelcraft also includes information on a recommended coating for use with grouted frames.  I have seen coatings specified before – bituminous coatings and other types, to help prevent corrosion from within the frame.  Another related issue is the type/treatment of the steel – galvanized or galvannealed, and to what level.

Frame Grouted FullI have worked with architects who specified grout for fire-rated frames, but as far as I know this is not typically required by the listing procedures.  NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives does not state that grout is required, although a figure included in Annex A may be contributing to the belief that it is.  Figure A. shows “Typical Pressed Steel Door Frame Installations”, and one of the frame details, the one illustrating a hollow metal frame installed in a masonry wall, is annotated “Frame Grouted Full”.  Another issue to add to my code development wish list.

I would love your help with more information on these issues…

  • Is grouting still prevalent?  In what types of construction and for what reasons?

  • Are specifications calling for hand-troweled grout, or is grout typically being pumped in?

  • What is the preferred type of steel for exterior frames?

  • Is a coating required for grout-filled frames?

  • Any other grout-related issues you’d like to discuss?

  • If you have any illustrative photos of grout-gone-wrong, you know what to do!

Here’s a video from Steelcraft which illustrates the recommended practices for installing a hollow metal frame in a masonry wall:

Graphic:  NFPA 80 – 2013

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