The International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code include requirements which limit the opening force of egress doors.  This helps to ensure that doors in a means of egress can be easily opened by building occupants.

The accessibility standards also include limitations on opening force, and it’s important to consider the requirement of all of the codes and standards adopted in a facility’s jurisdiction.  Several applications, such as fire doors and exterior doors, are exempt from the accessibility standards but are required to comply with the building codes and fire codes, or other local requirements.  Often, these requirements can be met by adjusting the door closer; when that won’t bring the door into compliance, an automatic operator may help.

For non-fire-rated, interior, swinging doors, the IBC and NFPA 101 limit the opening force to 5 pounds.  For other swinging doors, the opening-force limitations are broken down into 3 parts of the opening cycle – force required to release the latch, force required to set the door in motion, and force required to open the door to the fully-open position (the 2021 IBC has separated these force limitations for clarity).  Forces are applied at the latch edge of the door.  NFPA 101 includes some additional requirements for existing doors and detention and correctional occupancies, and both the IBC and NFPA 101 include opening-force requirements specific to automatic doors.

For detailed information about opening force, read this Decoded article, and then proceed to the quiz questions below.  If you have already read the Decoded article for Class 2J in the accessibility section, you can go directly to the review questions.


Review Questions

1. Opening force limitations for exterior doors can be found where?

  1. ICC A117.1
  2. ADA Standards for Accessible Design
  3. International Building Code
  4. NFPA 80

2. Which of the following statements is true for an interior, swinging fire door?

  1. Must be openable with no more than 5 pounds of force
  2. Is exempt from all opening-force requirements
  3. Requires a size-1 closer
  4. Must be set in motion by a force of 30 pounds, maximum

3. The model codes require manually-operated exterior doors and fire doors to comply with which of the following opening-force requirements?

  1. 30 pounds to set the door in motion, 15 pounds to open the door fully
  2. 50 pounds to set the door in motion, 15 pounds to open the door fully
  3. 5 pounds
  4. 15 pounds

Answers: 1 – C, 2 – D, 3 – A