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  Program 9

SSCCRPB - Specifying Surface Closers and Choosing the Right Product and Application

DHI CEP Program #10-1119



Part 1 - Surface Door Controls

Part 2 - Closers

Part 3 - Terms and Options


<< Glossary of Terms >>


Part 1 - Surface Door Controls

What is a surface door control?
Surface door controls (door closers) are devices that are surface mounted to the door and frame. They control the opening, closing or positioning of the door. Door control devices typically provide a "spring" for power to close a door, and hydraulic controls to maintain the speed and timing of opening and closing of the door.

Note: concealed door closers are also available when a more aesthetic value is required for the design of the building. Contact a door control manufacturer to find out more about these type of products.

Preferred terminology:

  • Door controls or door closers - indicates control of the opening and closing
    of a door
  • Slammers - do not use; a slang term that implies lack of control
  • Spring hinges - provide limited control over speed and timing of closing

Why surface door controls are necessary?

  • Safety - for a controlled closing
  • Convenience - as a self-closer
  • Barrier-free access - ADA, ANSI A117.1 compliance
  • HVAC control - self-contained for efficiency
  • Fire/Smoke containment - compartmentalized control
  • Fire and life safety - NFPA 80 & 101 compliance
  • Occupancy requirements - BOCA, SBA, ICBO and IBC building codes


  • Standard Projection
    • Greater than 2-1/4 inch projection
    • Adjacent wall at 2 inch frame face may cause conflict
  • Narrow Projection
    • 2-1/4 inch or less projection
    • Provides for improved aesthetics
    • No conflict with adjacent wall at 2 inch frame face


  • Regular/Standard Mount
    • Pull-side application
      • Double lever arm (a two-piece arm, perpendicular to the door)
      • Optimized power curve and control functions
      • Closer on door, foot on frame
      • Common use: in-swing doors from corridor
      • Poor application: out-swing exterior door
  • Top Jamb
    • Push-side application
      • Double lever arm (a two-piece arm, perpendicular to the door)
      • Optimized power curve and control functions
      • Closer on frame, foot on door
      • Common use: out-swing exterior doors
      • Poor application: in-swing doors from corridor
      • Concern: deeper reveal requires longer arm
  • Parallel Arm
    • Push-side Application
      • Less desirable power curve and control function
      • Double lever arm (a two-piece arm, parallel to door face)
      • PA bracket required for foot
      • No projecting arm = better appearance/vandal resistance
      • Arm position = less direct (reduced) forces
      • Reduced forces = loss of one closer size
      • Narrow top door rail = drop plate possibly required
  • Track Arm
    • Push- or pull-side applications
      • Track = single lever arm (a one-piece arm and track)
      • Common use: interior doors with rack and pinion design;
        cam and roller can be used on interior or exterior doors
      • Eliminates projecting arm
      • Improved aesthetics/vandal resistance

Spring types:

  • Fixed Spring
    • Non-adjustable
    • Typical sizes: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
  • Sized with 50% adjustment
    • 50% increase only
    • Typical sizes: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
    • Used on mostly government projects
    • Less commonly used today
    • Largely replaced by fully adjustable
  • Fully Adjustable
    • Adjustable through a range of sizes
    • Ranges may vary by manufacturer
    • Typical range sizes: 1-6, 1-5, 1-4, 2-6 and 3-6
    • Some ranges BF compliant


Upon submission, results of your evaluation will be displayed with the correct answers shown in red.

  1. Hydraulic controls are used to maintain the speed and timing of the opening and closing of the door.

  2. Surface door controls are necessary for which of the following?
    HVAC control.
    Fire and life safety.
    All of the above.

  3. The ________ Projection style provides for improved aesthetics at a 2-1/4 inch or less projection.

  4. Which one of these surface door controls is for pull-side applications only?
    Regular/Standard Mount.
    Parallel Arm.
    Top Jamb.

  5. A common use of the Regular/Standard Mount is:
    Out-swing exterior doors.
    In-swing doors from corridor