I often throw around terms that are completely familiar to those of us in the door and hardware industry, but which may sound like Greek to people who have not spent the last 35 years (eek!) talking about door hardware.  It happened again yesterday when I was chatting with an architect, who stopped me to ask:

When does a door opening need a coordinator – and what IS a coordinator, anyway??

Great question.  I remember that in the early years of my career I couldn’t figure out what a door coordinator was used for or how it worked.  It think coordinators are still mysterious to a lot of people because finding a pair of doors with automatic flush bolts and a coordinator with all of the components functioning properly is a rare and beautiful thing.

So when does a door need a coordinator?

  • Coordinators are only used on pairs of doors – not on single doors.
  • The purpose of a coordinator is to coordinate the two door leaves so they close in the proper sequence – the inactive leaf before the active leaf.
  • This coordination needs to occur when the inactive leaf has automatic (or constant latching) flush bolts, or when the pair has an astragal (or rabbet) that would prevent the active leaf from closing if not sequenced properly.
  • With automatic flush bolts, the inactive leaf has to close first because when the active leaf closes, it activates a trigger on the bolt which projects the bolt into the strike.  If the active leaf closes first, the inactive leaf won’t close fully.
  • Coordinators are not normally required for pairs of doors with panic hardware on both leaves (except for pairs with mortise X vertical rod panic hardware without an open back strike).
  • A bar-type coordinator (photo above) mounts under the frame head, and a gravity coordinator (image right) mounts on the pull-side frame face at the frame head.
  • The most common application for a coordinator is on a pair of fire doors without fire exit hardware.

There’s more information about flush bolts and coordinators in this Decoded article and in this whiteboard animation video.

If any of you are able to send me a (non-shaky) video or even some photos of a pair of doors with a coordinator illustrating how the doors close in sequence, I would be eternally grateful!

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