What to Look for in a Heavy Duty Cylindrical Lock

•March 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The invention of the cylindrical lock in the early 1900’s was revolutionary.  Today we take them for granted, and cylindrical locks can be found on more buildings, both commercial and residential, than any other type of lock in the world.  Heavy duty cylindrical locks are the number one choice in exterior door locks by commercial property owners.

The cylindrical lock was invented by Walter Schlage as a more convenient and economic alternative to the mortise lock.  Cylindrical locks are relatively easy to install, and cost less than mortise locks.

Cylindrical locks come in three grades: standard, medium and heavy duty.  Heavy duty cylindrical locks offer the most security and best insurance against tampering and picking.  They make an excellent choice for exterior doors, especially where high security is a priority.

When choosing heavy duty cylindrical locks, it’s important to look for some key characteristics, including:

*Grade: Commercial hardware products, including locks, are graded with a number of either 1, 2 or 3.  Grade 1 is the highest grade that a lock can receive.  A lock product, such as the Falcon T-Series Heavy Duty Cylindrical Lock, which has received a grade of 1 has been subjected to testing and evaluation.  It must pass a number of criterion in order to receive this rating, which is based on the durability and strength of the material(s) it is made from and how well it performs under a given situation.  A grade of one means that the lock will be strong and highly tamper-resistant.

The Falcon T Series Heavy Duty Cylindrical Lock (Grade 1)

The Falcon T Series Heavy Duty Cylindrical Lock (Grade 1)

* Brand: Not all brands are created equal.  Some of the best commercial lock brands on the commercial hardware market include Schlage and Falcon.  Brands like these have been around for decades and have proven themselves in the market as both strong and reliable.  In fact, many Schlage door lock products exceed the standards of grading for door locks.

*Materials: Look for strong metals.  That includes each and every component.  A door lock is only as strong as its weakest component, so every single piece should be built to be durable.

Remember to consider aspects such as fire ratings when choosing a heavy duty cylindrical lock.  Locks which are intended for use in fire doors must also be fire rated for the same length of time as the door/wall itself.

*Further reading: Check out “Choosing the Best Door Lock for Your Home.”


Choosing Door Hardware for High-Traffic Applications

•March 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Every public/commercial building is likely to have at least one high traffic door.  Some buildings may have two or more.  High traffic doors are those which get used frequently and regularly throughout a typical business day.  Usually these are the doors that the public uses to enter and exit your place of business, such as the front/main door.   These doors receive significantly higher use (and abuse) than service doors, warehouse entrances, and secondary emergency exits.

Door hardware that is applied to high-traffic doors needs to be able to handle frequent openings and closings.  You may be able to get away with choosing less expensive door closers or exit devices for secondary doors.  But when it comes to high traffic entrances, it usually pays to invest in high quality hardware.

When choosing door hardware for high-traffic applications, be sure to consider these three things:

1) Grade: ANSI (The American National Standards Institute) and the BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) have partnered together to create, implement and regulate standards regarding the manufacturing of commercial hardware, including door hardware.  Manufactured products which are voluntarily submitted for evaluation receive a grade of either 1, 2 or 3.  High-traffic doors should always be outfitted with hardware rated grade 1.  Products which have received a grade of 1 are the most durable, efficient and dependable.  They will be the most suitable for standing up to frequent use and even abuse.

2) Brand name:  Not all brand names are created equal.  Stick to brands which have proven themselves in the market over time.  Von Duprin, LCN, Glynn-Johnson, Monarch and Dor-o-Matic are just a few of these reliable labels.

3) Warranty:  Choose products and manufacturers that come with strong guarantees and warranties.  This helps to ensure that you’ll be able to get help, support and service down the road if issues arise.

4) Label specifications: Products that are intended for use on high-traffic doors will usually say so on the label, product information leaflet, or in the catalogue description.  Conversely, if the label recommends that a particular product NOT be used on a high-traffic door, heed that recommendation.

Remember, it’s worth spending a little bit more to know that the commercial door hardware that you are using will be reliable and will last for many years.

Identifying Security Risks in Your Commercial Building

•March 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Is your commercial building/business as secure as you think it is?  Did you know that you can often improve your level of commercial security without spending a lot of money?

Start by assessing your current property and the surrounding area.  Doing a “Security Audit” can help you to see things in a different light and open your eyes to potential risks to your business.  Here are some things to think about as you conduct your audit:

  1. Lighting: Is there adequate lighting in and around your building/unit?  Are walkways, entrances/exits (even service and emergency doors) and parking areas well-lit at all times?  Do your lights come on as soon as dusk sets in? 
  2. Landscaping: Do trees or bushes cover up windows and block or restrict view in or out?  Are branches growing over walkways?  Are trees obscuring parts of parking areas?
  3. Public accessibility:  Are all public doors in areas that are visible from the outside and the inside?  Is there a way for staff to monitor who comes in and out of public doors during business hours, especially if doors are out of immediate view (i.e. doorbells, closed-circuit cameras, etc.)?  Are public doors in good working order (i.e. do door closers and panic bars function properly?)  Do staff ever prop doors open?
  4. Windows:  How much proximity is there between windows and doors?  Are windows accessible from the ground?  Do windows have bars?  Are they reinforced?  Can windows be seen clearly from the street?  Can you see inside of windows from the street?  Are windows cleaned regularly?
  5. Cameras:  Is your building/unit equipped with closed-circuit cameras?  If so, do you review feeds regularly?  Do you save taped feeds?
  6. Re-keying:  Do you re-key locks according to a fixed timetable (i.e. every year or two)?  Does re-keying occur after break-ins?
  7. Burglar alarms:  Does your alarm system work properly?  Are all staff trained in setting and disengaging alarms?  Does your security company respond quickly to triggered alarms?

This is a very basic checklist that every business owner should refer to.  Some businesses may have more specialized needs and require closer scrutiny.

Next week: How creative landscaping can improve security in and around your business/commercial property.


With thanks to the Ingersoll Rand Companyfor security tips and advice.  For more information see Ingersoll Rand’s Risk Mitigation Assessment page.

How Do Fire Rated Exit Devices Differ from Non-Fire Rated Models?

•March 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Most commercial buildings in North America have designated fire walls within their structures.  Fire walls prevent fire from spreading from one part of a building to another in the event of a fire emergency. 

Fire walls are made of materials which burn at a much slower rate than materials in a regular wall.  Therefore, doors that are used in fire walls must also offer the same type of protection against the spread of fire as the wall itself.  The door itself, plus every component of the door down to the smallest piece of hardware, including exit devices, must be able to withstand extreme heat and flames for a specified period of time.

Fire rated exit devices differ from non-fire rated models in two major ways:

  1. Fire rated exit devices cannot be locked open.
  2. Fire rated exit devices must be constructed completely from flame/heat resistant materials.

First, non-fire rated exit devices have a feature which fire rated devices do not have.  This is know as a “down dog” feature.  The down dog feature allows the door to be put into an unlocked position through the use of a “down dog key.”  When this key is engaged, the automatic locking mechanism can be disengaged.  The door is then opened through the use of the knob or handle rather than by pressing on the crash bar.

Fire safety laws in North America require fire doors to be kept locked at all times.  This is why fire rated exit devices are not made with a down dog feature.  Fire doors which are left open  present a major fire safety breach.

Secondly, non-fire rated exit devices cannot withstand flames and temperatures from a fire.  Fire rated models are typically made with stronger, more durable, heat-resistant components.  They may also be treated with a fire-resistant coating for greater flame and heat protection.

Fire walls and doors must be able to prevent the spread of fire for a minimum-specified time as required by local law.  Three hours is typical, but this may vary from region to region.  Any door hardware that is applied must be able to withstand fire and heat for the same length of time.

When it’s time to replace or upgrade existing exit devices in your commercial building, it’s critical that you first determine whether a particular door is a fire door, since this dictates the type of hardware you must use.  An inadvertent mistake could lead to damage and even loss of life in the event of a major fire.  If you are unsure about a particular wall/door, consult with the plans for your building, or consult the local fire marshal who can conduct an inspection on your building’s interior.

Read about the tragic Iroquois Theater fire which killed over 600 theater patrons in 1903.  Or visit the Iroquois Theater Fire website.

What is an Electromagnetic Door Holder?

•February 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Electromagnetic door holders are a practical and convenient solution to maintaining fire wall/door integrity while still allowing fire doors to be held open when desired.  Using electromagnetic door holders is safer than propping doors in commercial buildings open with manual kick-style door stoppers.

This type of door holder combines the power of electricity with the strength of magnets for maximum efficiency and performance.  Doors outfitted with electromagnetic door holders rely on electrical power to draw doors to the magnets.  It is the magnet that holds the door in an open position.

Once propped open, the door is closed in one of two ways.  It can be shut manually by way of accompanying manual door closer.  In the event of a fire or smoke alarm, doors will be shut automatically.  This happens as the result of electrical current being interrupted upon activation of a building’s alarm system.  This automatic detection of a disruption of current maintains firewall/door integrity in the event of an emergency, and complies with fire safety regulations and building codes.

Many electromagnetic door holders, such as the LCN SEM7800 Series, come in several styles, meaning that commercial building owners and lessees have numerous options to fit in with any decor.  Magnets may be floor mounted, surface wall mounted, low profile recessed wall mounted or standard profile recessed wall mounted.  Each style is equally safe and effective.


The LCN SEM7800, available from Popular Hardware, is UL listed for fire doors and ANSI tested and approved, ensuring that the unit will perform optimally under the circumstances it is intended for.

Exit Devices: Protecting Businesses and Saving Lives

•February 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

If necessity is the Mother of Invention, then exit devices are one of the most enduring and powerful examples of this.  Yet, few people are even aware what an exit device is, what it has done for public safety, and how we take this marvel of technology for granted almost every day of our lives.

It is a safe bet that there isn’t one public building in North America that does not have at least one exit device (also known as crash bars or panic bars) somewhere on its premises.  This is because exit devices are mandated by law, as outlined in building codes like the International Building Code(IBC).  The IBC is a model building code which has been adopted in almost every region in the United States.  The IBC is a complete manual of codes for the construction of buildings, both residential and commercial. 

When speaking particularly of exit devices, the IBC requires that they be applied on specified doors within commercial buildings, including exterior doors.  Exit devices allow a door to remain locked to prevent people from entering a building or part of a building, but also allows for people inside the building to exit safely and quickly without having to have the door unlocked with a key.

The world’s first exit device was conceived of by Carl Prinzler in the early 1900’s.  Prinzler designed this revolutionary piece of commercial hardware in response to a tragic fire in Chicago’s newly-built Iroquois Theater.  Just one month after its grand opening, a tragic fire inside the theater during a live production resulted in the deaths of 602 people, including theater staff, audience, cast and crew members.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the large number of deaths was the lack of properly-working doors.  Many of those doors which did work were locked by theater staff during the performance, trapping patrons inside the inferno.  At least one exit door was actually bolted shut.  Theater owners and management cited security as the main reason for locking theater doors during performances.

Prinzler was to have attended that fateful performance, but a last-minute business meeting called him away.  As it turned out, it probably saved his life.  But Prinzler grieved deeply for all of those killed and injured in what could have been an easily-preventable tragedy.

Prinzler conceived of the exit device, a device which could be applied to a door so that business owners could maintain a sense of security while still respecting the safety of patrons.  A three-way partnership soon led to the manufacturing and marketing of the first exit device under the name Von Duprin

The Von Duprin name is still the leading brand name in commercial exit devices today.  It is currently held by the Ingersoll Rand Company.  It offers many styles and models, all of which are ANSI and BHMA-approved.  Other popular brands include Monarch and Dor-O-Matic.

Thanks to Prinzler’s visionary thinking, businesses and commercial property owners can ensure that customers and employees in a public building are safe.  At the same time, they can feel assured that their properties are secured and protected from danger.

A common exit device/crash bar.

A common exit device/crash bar.

Read more about the Iroquois Theater Fire: The Partnership that Changed the Way the World Looks at Commercial Security: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
More information can be found at The Iroquois Theater Fire.

The Evolution of the Pivot Hinge

•February 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

PART TWO: The Modern Pivot Hinge

The pivot hinge was a simple but effective solution for fixing and pivoting doors and gates.  So effective, in fact, that it’s been used for thousands of years.

While today’s pivot hinges aren’t likely to consist of stone and wooden pins, companies like Ives have improved upon those early designs to create hardware that works with today’s designs, including doors, cabinets and more.

A modern pivot hinge set

A modern pivot hinge set

Fortunately, modern pivot hinges are not nearly as unwieldy as their old-fashioned rock counterparts.  However, they still function on the same principle.  A pivot hinge consists of [1] “a fixed pin and a single joint having a height less than the adjacent hinge leaves.”  The hinge leaf is the part of the device that extends from the hole or cavity which the pin passes through.

Pivot hinges may be mounted on various parts of the door and/or door jamb/door frame, depending on the type of door and type of hinge.  They are also used for other applications, such as swinging baby cradles, gates, etc.  They may even be manufactured in a fire grade for use in commercial fire doors.  Fire-grade pivot hinges are frequently used in places such as hospitals, high-rise office and apartment buildings and hotels.

When choosing pivot hinges for any application, one of the main considerations to make is the amount of weight that the hinges must bear.  Pivot hinges are typically manufactured to bear weight in increments of 100 pounds.  Check the manufacturers specifications to determine a particular product’s weight-bearing capabilities.


ANSI/BHMA Standards.  “A Guide to Builder’s Hardware Terminology: Hinges.”  Builder’s Hardware Manufacturers Association.  http://www.buildershardware.com/glossary_hinges.html