You would think all door closers would have the same, basic function – to close doors. However, they are far more complex than you might think. For starters, there is a variety of different door closers out there. If you’re a novice and don’t know much about door closers, the amount of options can be overwhelming.
To give you a helping hand, I’m going to give some advice on how to pick the right door closer.
What is the purpose of a door closer?
Yes, we both know the basic function is to keep a door closed, but why? Commonly, door closers are installed on fire exits. These should be kept close at all times and only opened in case of emergency.
Another key reason is to prevent damage to your door and its frame. Just imagine all your time and work towards your new doorway being ruined by a door being slammed shut repeatedly. It’s going to lead to extra, unwanted cost. So, installing a door closer is a worthy investment.
Additionally, conserving energy is a benefit to installing a door closer. If you’re like me, then you hate it when a co-worker leaves a door wide open during the winter months, letting warm air escape the room.
It goes without saying that theft prevention and privacy are also valid reasons for having a door closer. Obviously, you like to have privacy and not have any thieves come into your building or room to steal precious belongings. In short, it’s all about safety, safety, safety!
Picking the right door closer
Like I said earlier, you have several options when picking a door closer. Unfortunately, the more you research the types of door closers there are, the more you will realize there are numerous factors to consider.
Function of door closers
Where will the door closer be installed? Is the door for interior or exterior use? How often will the door be opened and closed? What is the weight of the door? these are some of the questions you have to ask yourself when choosing a door closer.
Assessing the width and height of the door frame, and the weight of the door is crucial. A lot of heavy doors will require more power to successfully close.
Many door closers allow you to adjust the force and speed of how and when a door closes. The main body of the closers includes three adjustable screws.
Back check – Located on the hinge-side of the door closer, the single back check screw determines how much resistance the opening of a door has past a certain point. A tighter back check valve will prevent the door from swinging open fast.
Note: this feature is not included on all door closer models, so I suggest checking before you buy!
Swing speed – Adjusting the swing speed screw will determine how fast or slow a door closes when fully opened, before reaching the latch speed angle. No adult or child wants to hit by a door being swung opened loosely.
Latch speed – Located with the swing speed screw, on the opposite end of the back check screw, adjusting the latch speed controls how fast the door closes when it is at roughly a 5 degree angle. Likewise, spring tension controls the size of the door closer. This is determined by the width of the door but can be adjusted.
Although not a feature on all door closers, a delayed action valve allows doors to be open for a longer period of time. It is often beneficial for people with disabilities.
Fluid – Fluid determines the closing speed. The all-weather fluid is a clear choice as you won’t have to change it at any point. Otherwise, the door closer will close differently depending on the temperature.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘standard arm’ door closer, regular arm models are installed on the exterior side of the door with a pull-side application. The body of the door closer is mounted to the door face with its closing arm attached to the door frame. Regular arm closers allow doors to be opened to 180 degrees.
• Most power efficient door closer due to arm assembly points directly out from door frame.
• Suitable for doors with a narrow top rail.
• Low cost for limited budget.
• Pull-side only application
• Mounting may cause aesthetics concerns, especially on outward opening doors.
• Low cost means cheaper quality and potential short lifespan.
Just like regular arm models, top jamb door closers project outwards perpendicularly. However, the difference is that they benefit from the spring-loaded box that is mounted on the face of the door frame.
They are recommended for heavy use such as shop entrances, especially aluminum or glass doors.
• Adjustable spring-loaded box means door automatically closes and effects to speed and force of how the door closes.
• Power efficient
• Best alternative to regular arm
• The two arm pointing design might look un-aesthetically pleasing.
The parallel arms model is said to be the most common door closer, especially in commercial properties and schools. As its name suggests, the arm is parallel to the door frame when closed. However, it’s important to make sure the surface where the closing mount is fixed to is big enough.
LCN (extra duty arm) and Norton (a parallel rigid) are two manufacturers who produce dedicated parallel door closers, which are extra sturdy.
• Designed to be less noticeable.
• Less power efficient than regular arm and top jamb models.
• Requires more spring strength.
Electromagnetic, also known as e-mag, door closers have a dual purpose. Not only can they hold a door open when you use a standard door closer, but they can also be installed with a free swing mode. As you can probably have guessed, this is due to the electromagnetism power attached to the door closer.
• Safely holds door open.
• Fitted like other overhead door closers
• Best choice when using low opening force
• Power cut is triggered when fire alarm is activated.
• Ideal for environments covered by The Equality Act legislation
• Higher cost due to electromagnetic function.
• Prices and quality can vary.
Transom door closers is part of the group of overhead closers, yet are fitted to the frame at the head of the door, hence they are labeled as concealed. They’re often used for single or double aluminum doors.
Unlike face mounted closers, transom models allows the door to pivot and can be pushed and pulled open. Mounted closers are limited to swing on hinges.
You may see regular, top jamb and parallel models as “concealed”, but in my opinion these are just a cover to hide the body of the closer. Sure, it’s all down to preference but if you want your door closer hidden, I would choose a transom, or a floor spring.
• Hidden from view
• Enables door to open inwards and outwards
• Adjustable speed and spring strength
• Reduce costs for builders
• Ideal for aluminium and steel doors.
• Can vary in price, quality and design.
• Cheaper models can leak oil.
For many buildings, overhead door closers is their preferred choice. However, if your doorway does not have enough surface space to install an overhead door closer, a floor spring door closer model is a suitable alternative.
They are often found in glass storefront doors and are mounted and concealed in the floor. A bar is installed in the underside of the door, this controls the closing motion.
• Suitable for heavy single and double doors.
• Made for high-traffic use.
• Clean aesthetic due to being hidden in the floor and underside of door.
• Requires floor installation.
• More expansive than other models.