Information on commercial exit door requirements

Written by marjorie gilbert
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Information on commercial exit door requirements
The Exit sign is a common sight in public buildings. (exit sign image by bawinner from

When you have a commercial building, it's important to meet certain building regulations. These regulations extend to the exit doors, which need to be installed in such a way that they will function properly in an emergency. The doors themselves need to meet certain standards as well.

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Fire Resistance

Commercial exit doors must be fire resistant. The door itself must have a stated fire rating that shows that a prototype of that door underwent a fire-resistance test and had a rating assigned to it, as well as another test to determine how long it was able to keep noxious gases and fumes from passing through it. If the commercial exit door has a window, then the window must consist of glass with wire mesh embedded in it, liquid sodium silicate between two glass panes, borosilicate glass or ceramic glass. The door itself must be made of fire resistant materials such as steel or gypsum.

The Direction the Exit Door Swings

The very direction the commercial exit door swings must be taken into account. The door must swing open toward the exterior of the building, so that when the occupants of the building try to flee the building in the event of an emergency, they push on the door to pass through it, rather than pulling it toward them to open it.

Ease of Operation

Any commercial exit door must be opened without effort. According to the City of Roseville (CA) Fire Code: "Except as specifically permitted by this section egress doors shall be readily openable from the egress side without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort." The fire code may vary in specifics from community to community, however the need for the exit door to be easily opened in the time of an emergency is universal. The doors may need to be locked when the business is closed, yet when the building is occupied, the exit door must open easily in time of need.

Hold Open Device

The only hold-open device that meets fire codes is an electromagnet device that is triggered to release the door when there is a fire. A commercial exit door can be kept open when it is not needed as a fire door. But the door needs to be able to function as a fire door (shutting automatically to prevent the spread of fire) while still being able to be opened by the people in the building who are trying to escape the fire.

The Door and the Hallway

The commercial exit door should not impede the width of the hallway, especially if the hallway is narrow or opens onto stairs. If space is an issue, the commercial exit door should be recessed into the wall so that when it opens, the hinged edge of the door does not extend into the hallway.

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