6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Door Hardware for Schools
In schools across America, doors and entranceways act as the frontline defense against unwanted intruders.
Between 91% and 97% of schools use doors as their primary security system. Often in conjunction with other measures like security cameras and staff identification.
Restricting access to school buildings keeps both staff and students safe.
When designing security systems for educational facilities, choosing door hardware that fits the needs of the school buildings and the community is crucial.
Below, we outline 6 essential factors that will help you identify the door hardware functionality that’s right for your institution.
1. Material Matters in Door Construction
If you need door material for public areas where aesthetics matter, choose wood for your school door designs. Use stainless steel or brass fixtures on wooden doors for extra durability.
Wood tends to warp with changes in temperature and humidity levels. Commercial construction companies choose steel or plastic as the material for secure school doors.
Stainless steel doors are the most durable option for a school. Stainless steel is moisture- and rust-resistant and can withstand hard knocks. Call a specialist to repair dings and scratches.
Plastic doors are good for areas that need privacy without high traffic or areas with high humidity like kitchens and bathrooms. They break easily, but they are also cheap to replace. Use plastic doors in staffing and janitorial areas not frequented by the public.
2. Selecting the Right Door Lock
School buildings can be subject to a wide range of intrusions, from overnight break-ins and vandalism to armed attacks.
School developers need to select the right door locks for each area of an educational facility. This is key to keeping staff and students safe.
For smaller doors, such as in-office areas, a keyless smart lock would be suitable. Yet, when it comes to areas with a lot of foot traffic or classrooms that house valuable equipment like computer or science labs, you need to consider hardwearing industrial options like mortise door locks.
In the USA, most door lock functions fall under the American National Standards Institute standards outlined by the ANSI. Understanding these lock standards can help you maximize your door hardware budget.
3. Choosing Door Hardware for Emergency Exits
States and counties decide the emergency and evacuation regulations for the schools in their area. Yet, most states have adopted policies like those outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Core OSHA guidelines include:
- Buildings need at least two permanent exit routes
- Exit routes must be positioned as far away from each other as possible
- Exit routes must be kept clear at all times
- Exits must lead directly into an open outside area
- Exits must be protected by a self-closing fire door
- Exit routes must be clearly marked
Since schools must keep emergency exits clear and accessible at all times, these doorways can be a challenge to secure.
To keep these crucial doors secure while balancing easy door usage, school administrators can install a range of alarm systems. These include motion sensors, such as pressure-sensitive or photoelectric devices, and security cameras.
Anyone opening the exit door will trigger an alarm or an alert. This will send a message to a designated cellphone, administrator’s station, or security company.
4. Consider Ventilation
According to the CDC, dampness and mold in schools can cause respiratory problems, spread bacterial disease, and worsen asthma, allergies, and eczema. Like any indoor space, schools, especially those that are older, suffer from moisture infiltration.
One of the ways to help reduce humidity and improve airflow in school buildings is to install louvers in your doors. This is especially helpful in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, as well as portable classrooms, which tend to be poorly insulated and constructed. Areas that need to remain dry, such as server rooms or storage closets can also benefit from louvers.
Best of all, louvers allow a door to remain closed, locked, and secure while letting in air conditioning, fresh air, and warm air.
Similarly, lite kits installed in solid wood, steel, or plastic doors let in light while keeping a space private.
5. Safety From Self-Harm
Tragically, as many as 6 youths aged between 5 and 18 took their lives at school in 2017 alone. With youth suicide rates on the increase in 2020, suicide prevention is at the forefront of many educator’s minds.
In educational facilities where the risk of suicide is higher, administrators can install anti-ligature door handles and devices in entranceways. Manufacturers design this type of hardware to sit flush against a closed door. There are no protruding surfaces to tie a ligature, such as a piece of rope or string, around.
Empower your staff and students by taking a simple yet practical step toward preventing these rare yet harrowing incidents.
6. Use Quality Stainless Steel Parts and Tools
To ensure the best door hardware functionality, it couldn’t be more important to use quality parts when installing door handles or other door hardware.
Look for nuts, bolts, and other parts made from stainless steel or brass. Both of these materials are hard-wearing, but because brass is expensive, only choose it for those areas where appearance matters.
Buy from a dealer that specializes in door hardware and use popular standard sizes to make it easy to repair or replace parts as needed.
Different Door Sizes Need Different Hardware
While security is one of the most important factors when it comes to door design for schools, be sure to also account for different door sizes and styles when factoring in the cost of locks, closers, latches, draft stoppers, louvers, and more. This will help keep your door hardware budget affordable.
Do you have questions about choosing door hardware for your education facility or construction project? Contact Accurate Door & Hardware today to discuss your options.
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