Demystifying Automatic Door Selection

98.9% of patrons preferred buildings with automatic doors, according to a recent survey conducted by SBC Research for AAADM. The choice for your entrance system is an important one. Several distinct types of automatic doors on the market are available in a mind-boggling number of configurations, developed to fit specific needs. Whether you are retrofitting or building new, this information will aid owners, architects, contractors, or other professionals responsible for the growth and maintenance of the facility in making an informed decision.

Automatic Doors in Healthcare & Education

94.2% of people surveyed expect automatic doors in hospitals, and 15% expect to find them in universities.

Automatic doors provide convenience, easy access for disabled persons, reduced energy costs, and increased security. It’s important to consider the type of traffic using the door. There are generally four main types of traffic in schools and hospitals: general, impaired, limited, or elderly; trained (such as employee traffic in non-public areas); and combination traffic.

Where the door is located often determines which model of the door is specified. In schools and universities, automatic doors are used in entrances (including security doors), corridors (including fire-rated doors), and washrooms. Some doors are rated for air or smoke infiltration and work exceptionally well for specialty applications such as clean rooms and labs.

In hospitals, automatic doors are preferred throughout the facility for their ease of use. Consider automatic door use for entranceways and corridors (fire doors), ED entrances and corridors, anywhere security is required, for negative pressure rooms, clean rooms, ICUs and CCUs, washrooms, and ADA accessibility.

NABCO manufactures all three main categories of doors. It’s important to note that 83.9% of people prefer sliding doors, 11.4% prefer swing doors, and 2.5% prefer bi-fold doors.

Sliding Doors

Automatic sliding doors are available in single and bi-part, depending on space requirements. The doors are an efficient way to accommodate simultaneous, two-way traffic or to control directional traffic by designating one door as “In” and the other as “Out.” However, they cannot be used where a fire rating is required.

Sliding doors are available in all glass versions without muntin bars or stiles for a large unobstructed view, perfect for showcasing an attractive lobby or well-manicured grounds. Where a large access area is required, telescopic versions fit the bill by providing 25% more door opening than standard sliding doors of the same size. In extreme weather areas of the country, hurricane-rated sliding and folding doors that are impact-resistant to large and small objects have been designed to comply with the Miami-Dade County Building Code.

In ICUs and CCUs, large access areas are required for the trouble-free transport of beds, gurneys, and other medical equipment. For this purpose, manual sliding doors are available in full breakout, partial breakout, and telescoping versions with or without tracks. In ICU/CCU rooms designated as “infection control,” where airborne germs must be kept from spreading to other areas, air and smoke infiltration-rated sliding doors are available. These heavy-duty doors are also ideal for corridors where room air quality must be maintained in case of fire.

Swinging Doors

Swinging doors are usually specified for directional, one-way traffic. One door can be designated as “In” and the other as “Out” to control traffic flow. They are not usually recommended for simultaneous two-way traffic. Swing door operators are available in full-power or Low Energy versions. Swinging doors require room on both the approach and swing sides of the door and external safety devices like guide rails. Low Energy versions are often rated suitable for handicapped, elderly, or limited pedestrian traffic.

Common elements to consider for Low Energy doors for swinging door applications are: width of door opening, maneuvering clearances, hardware, height of thresholds, and slope of ramps. Additional requirements for doors equipped with Low Energy power operators are mandated per the ADA standards for compliance to ANSI/BHMA. Approximately every five years, standards are revisited for improvements and updates based on the latest technology, industry needs, and usage of automatic door equipment.

Folding Doors

When you need a wide-open entrance to accommodate two-way traffic but your space is limited, bi-folding doors combine swinging and sliding door technology to meet your needs. The door’s unique folding feature provides a much larger opening than comparative sliding doors while dramatically reducing sweep compared to traditional swing doors. These doors are ideal for both interior and exterior applications.

Many doors can be engineered to fit specialty applications for your building(s). Contact NABCO for help selecting the right products to meet your budget and project requirements.

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