Last night, just as I was thinking about what to write about for today’s post, I got a cry for help via Facebook Messenger. We talked by phone about the issue – full height pulls mounted back-to-back on a storefront door.
On the project in question, the pull that was mounted on the push side stopped 10 inches above the floor in order to provide the 10-inch-high flush, smooth, surface at the bottom of the door. The question was whether the projection of the pull above that 10-inch area was a problem.
Prior to the late 1990’s, the projection of hardware off the face of the door into the clear opening width was not addressed in the codes. There was a lot of confusion about how to measure the clear opening width of a door, and how panic hardware, for example, affected that measurement.
Today, most of the model codes and standards allow projections of a specific dimension, in specific locations. For example, the International Building Code (IBC) says this about projections into the clear opening width:
There shall not be projections into the required clear opening width lower than 34 inches (864 mm) above the floor or ground. Projections into the clear opening width between 34 inches (864 mm) and
80 inches (2032 mm) above the floor or ground shall not exceed 4 inches (102 mm).
According to the IBC paragraph:
- No projections into the REQUIRED clear opening width (typically 32 inches*) are allowed in the area of the door below 34 inches AFF.
- Between 34 and 80 inches AFF, projections of up to 4 inches are allowed into the clear opening width.
When I wrote about full height pulls in 2010, the interpretations weren’t quite as clear. In fact, at that time an ICC staff member told me that he didn’t think a door pull would be subject to the limitations on projections. But the common interpretation today is that a door pull mounted on the push side of the door is required to meet the limitations stated in the codes and standards.
The conservative interpretation is that:
- Below 34 inches AFF, no hardware can project into the REQUIRED clear opening width of 32 inches. On a 3-foot-wide door hung on standard hinges or pivots, most full height pulls mounted back-to-back would project into the 32-inch clear width, violating the code requirement. This means that a wider door would be needed to ensure that the pull would not project too far into the required clear width.
- Between 34 inches and 80 inches AFF, no hardware can project more than 4 inches into the ACTUAL clear opening width, which is the same as saying that the hardware can’t project more than 4 inches off the face of the door. In the past, a common interpretation was that hardware could project more than 4 inches off the door as long as it didn’t project more than 4 inches into the required clear width of 32 inches, but the IBC now notes that the 4-inch limitation is consistent with the limit on horizontal projections. This supports the more conservative interpretation that the hardware can not project more than 4 inches off the door.
I’d love to know how you are seeing this interpreted in the field.
- Below 34 inches AFF – projections off the door are ok as long as the 32-inch required clear width is maintained?
- Between 34 inches and 80 inches off the floor – projections are limited to 4 inches off the face of the door?
* Some doors are required to have a clear opening width wider than 32 inches – to accommodate the required egress capacity or the movement of beds.