Increasing the Longevity of High-Use Doors

Feb. 1, 2008

Continuous-hinge systems can ensure longer, trouble-free operation for commercial doors

By Mike Phillips

Continuous hinges have proven to be excellent solutions for high-traffic, high-abuse openings in schools, hospitals, universities, sports arenas, detention facilities, airports, and numerous types of commercial buildings. Why? Because, unlike a continuous hinge, a typical butt-hinge system can cause premature doorway failure in busy entranceways. Most of any door's weight and stresses are put on its top hinge; after excessive use, the top hinge can experience early signs of wear.

When doors are opened beyond their intended stopping point, the resulting kickback shock - also known as "racking" - loosens screws, distorts hinge leaves, damages hinge bearings, and breaks hinge reinforcements inside the doorframe. Once damaged, the door may sag, begin to drag on the threshold, and not lock or latch properly - a critical component in keeping commercial buildings closed and secure. When gaps between a door and frame are eliminated, potential access points are also reduced, inhibiting vandals from breaking and entering. In addition, keeping entranceways functioning properly is especially important in fire-rated openings that act as barriers to keep fires contained within a given space.

With a continuous hinge, the door's weight and stresses are dissipated along the entire length of the door and frame. Instead of concentrating most of the stress on one 5-inch hinge, the door is supported its full length (up to 10 feet). This helps ensure longer, more trouble-free operation.

A wide variety of continuous hinges is available; materials range from carbon and stainless steel to aluminum. All continuous hinges are not created equal, however; the proper selection of material is important in addressing the specific needs of a given application. Fire rating, door size, weight, and usage of an opening will also dictate the material required. For example, specifying a light-gauge material for a heavy-door installation negates the benefits realized from using a continuous hinge.

Continuous hinges are available in the same configurations as traditional butt-type hinges. The models include mortise (edge mount), typically for new installations, and a variety of surface-applied models for retrofit or "fix-it" work. In addition to the standard models, continuous hinges can be fitted with various mechanical and electrical options, including hospital tips, monitoring switches, concealed wire transfers, lead lining, and horizontal adjustability.

Keeping doors swinging and closing properly is always a challenge in commercial and institutional applications. Hanging doors on continuous hinges ensures that doors are swinging and closing for years to come.

Mike Phillips is business development manager-wholesale distribution at Pomona, CA-headquartered Adams Rite Manufacturing Co., an ASSA ABLOY Group company. Visit (www.adamsrite.com) for more information.

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