Calling all architects…we need your help with this one!

Someone asked me the other day how to tell from a set of floor plans which leaf of a pair is supposed to be the active leaf.

To get us all on the same page…

The active leaf of a pair is typically the one with a lockset, and the inactive leaf has flush bolts which secure that door at the top and bottom.  When a pair of doors has panic hardware and one door has a key cylinder on the outside (and the other door doesn’t), that door would be called the active leaf even though both doors with panic hardware can be used for free egress.  In some cases, both leaves of a pair are active leaves, and have the same hardware on each door.

So how do  you know which leaf is supposed to be active and which is inactive?  I have seen a few projects where the active/inactive leaves are designated by a symbol on the drawings, by the position of the door number, or by the degree of opening of each door (for example – active leaf drawn at 90 degrees, inactive drawn at 45), but in my experience this is not common.  Right-hand-reverse active is the most common handing for pairs, but some pairs are LHR-active, RH-active, or LH-active (there’s more on handing here).

How common is it for architects to indicate the active leaf on the floor plan? 

When the active leaf is chosen by the architect, how is it indicated? 

If the architect does not indicate the active leaf, why not? 


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