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Safety Rated Doors: Frequently Asked Questions about Impact, Hurricane, and Fire Rated Doors

Wednesday July 13th, 2022
When it comes to the security of your home and the safety of loved ones inside, homeowners often turn to alarm or security systems. But one important factor that many people overlook is the benefit of safety rated doors. If you're considering adding a safety rated door to your home, you might have questions like:

Safety Rated Door FAQs

  • What is a Fire Rated Door?
  • What Makes a Door Fire Rated?
  • When Do You Need a Fire Rated Door?
  • What are Fire Rated Doors Made From?
  • Can Fire Rated Doors Have Glass?
  • How to Identify Fire Rated Doors
  • What is a Hurricane Door?
  • What Makes a Door Hurricane Proof?
  • What is an Impact Door?
  • Are Impact Doors Worth it?
Safety rated doors are an important addition for homeowners that want to provide an extra layer of security for loved ones inside. Whether you need to defend your home against hurricane force wind, want to protect it from fires, or feel like an impact door is the best option for you, you certainly can’t go wrong choosing one of these doors to install in your home.

Fire Rated Doors

1. What is a Fire Rated Door?

A fire rated door is a door that is made specifically to withstand fire for a certain duration of time. This could be anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours. They provide a buffer to slow fire from spreading, so long as the doors are closed from one room to the next.

For example, let's say you installed fire rated doors with the appropriate door frame in the entrances to all the bedrooms in your home, and a fire started in the hallway. As long as the doors are closed, anyone inside the bedrooms would have approximately twenty minutes or longer to get out the window to safety before the fire breached the door. If they couldn't get out of their room, it would give firefighters roughly twenty minutes to get a ladder up to the window or inside the building to rescue them.

There are fire rated doors for different needs, including fire rated interior door options and commercial doors. If you own a commercial property of any type, every commercial door inside the building must be fire rated safety doors by law. This is true of both single and double door setups. Homes, however, do not have this same requirement, and the installation of a fire rated door is completely optional.

Front entry doors and stairway exits in a commercial building should all be fire resistant doors. Fire doors provide an extra layer of safety and security during a building fire by allowing occupants to safely escape down stairwells without the danger of inhaling smoke. In a residential location, fire resistant entry doors will help in areas prone to wildfires, and interior fire doors will provide an extra layer of safety when installed to prevent fire from spreading inside your home. Whether you purchase solid wood doors, a steel door, or another door system that fits the code requirement for your building, you'll benefit from increased safety.

2. What Makes a Door Fire Rated?

Regular doors that are installed standard in new build homes are one of two options: an interior door for the inside or an exterior rated door for the outside of a home. An entry door, outdoor rated barn door, or a custom door built for the entry of a home is crafted to withstand heavier use and abuse from foot traffic and outside elements, such as wind, rain, UV rays, snow, and dirt. In a similar way, a fire rated door is built to withstand the searing heat of flames and prevent smoke from drifting from one room to the next.

In order for a door to be considered fire rated, the door and materials must withstand rigorous testing with real fire. Ratings vary, and generally begin with 20-minute ratings and go to 90-minute ratings. These ratings mean that the doors withstood anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes of fire before breaking down during testing. So, in a home or commercial setting, the door should hold up against fire for a maximum of 20 to 90 minutes before it breaks down and allows fire to pass through the entryway.

What's important to note is that the ratings serve as more of a guideline than a guarantee. During testing, the door is brand new, and the fire is controlled. In real-world situations, the fire isn't controlled, and various factors can increase the heat, power of flames, and power of the fire. It's critical that the fire door is fully closed for it to work properly. If it's cracked open or improperly installed, then the rating won't apply in a real-world situation.

3. When Do You Need a Fire Rated Door?

There are several circumstances when you might want or need the benefit of installing a fire door assembly. If you own a commercial building, then each door you have installed should be a rated door manufactured to slow the spread of fire. You might choose a wood door, an overhead door, or a slab door, depending on your aesthetic needs. However, whatever door you choose must be rated for installation in your specific commercial setting.

Every fire door comes with a specific fire rating that applies to the door assembly. So, if you purchase a 90-minute rated fire door, it means that the door will prevent smoke and fire from entering through the doorway for up to 90 minutes. This is critical in commercial settings where there are many rooms and multiple employees that need to exit in case of fire. This is also important for warehouses that store flammable or highly combustible materials.

When it comes to residential settings, a fire rated door is beneficial if you live in areas that are especially prone to wildfires. Some parts of the country can count on early fires each summer; when a lack of rain, paired with windy, dry conditions makes the situation especially tenuous. A fire door can also help should one part of a home catch on fire and those inside have nowhere to go other than their rooms or another area that can be closed off by a fire door.

It's important to keep in mind that fire rated doors don't stop a fire from entering the room, but they do help slow the progress of a standard fire. If you want greater peace of mind for yourself and increased safety for those inside your home, a fire rated door is a beneficial addition to install.

4. What are Fire Rated Doors Made From?

Rated doors crafted specifically for fire protection can be made from several types of materials, including solid wood, steel, and glass. Most fire doors are made of a combination of those materials, providing both safety and aesthetics. Fire tests are conducted on fully crafted doors to produce the door rating and tell you how much time the door can hold up against the flames and heat before an average fire consumes it.

In addition to the material the door itself is made of, the smoke seals that prevent smoke from wafting through the opening are also made of materials with a high amount of fire resistance. In commercial buildings, the door and frame are often made from solid stainless steel for the highest door rating possible to ensure compatibility with international building code requirements. In residential buildings, fire rated doors are often made of solid timber, which is highly resistant to fire and is more aesthetically pleasing.

Another feature that many fire rated doors come with is called an intumescent strip. These strips are placed along the edges of the door leaf or the panel that swings out. When exposed to heat, the material naturally expands, further sealing off the room on the other side and preventing the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

5. Can Fire Rated Doors Have Glass?

You might be surprised to learn that fire rated doors can have glass. In fact, fire rated doors with glass can be just as effective as rolling steel doors, lead lined doors, and other options for fire rated openings. Fire rated glass doors follow the same standards as other fire rated doors as established by the National Fire Protection Association. The benefit of installing glass doors is that you can combine the beauty and aesthetics of glass and natural light while still adhering to building code safety.

Just like fire doors made of steel or wood, a fire rated glass door will have a specific fire resistance rating. As long as they have the correct assembly and door frame, fire rated glass doors can often serve as a barrier to fire, an inhibitor to smoke, and as insulation against heat.

There is one important distinction to make when choosing fire rated doors. While all fire rated doors can also act as smoke doors, not all smoke doors are fire rated. What does this mean? Fire rated doors inhibit fire from spreading in addition to keeping smoke from wafting from room to room. Smoke doors, on the other hand, serve the primary purpose of preventing smoke from spreading but may not be fire rated. Both types of doors can be made of glass, so it's important to clarify what you need before purchasing.

6. How to Identify Fire Rated Doors

All fire rated doors can be identified by the fire rating assigned to them. When purchasing a fire rated door, whether it's made of steel, wood, or glass, there will be a label with information regarding the fire ratings. These ratings will correlate directly to building codes, so it's important to know what codes you specifically need to follow. If your building requires a temperature rise door with a fire rating of 90 minutes of fire exposure and a smoke seal, then you need to look for doors with a minimum rating of 90 minutes or 1.5 hours. Fire rated doors list their fire exposure time in minute or hour increments.

Fire door manufacturers will specify the rating in terms of time a door can withstand fire exposure, what kind of doorway opening requirements are necessary, measurements and specifications for maximum fire safety, and other requirements such as gaskets, smoke seals, intumescent strips, and automatic closing assemblies to boost fire door safety.

Checking to ensure you purchase the correct rating is critical to ensure your commercial building remains within safety code requirements during fire door inspection and that your home is up to the safety standards you deem necessary. When it comes to fire safety, installing a fire alarm in each room is only one piece of the puzzle. Safety rated doors can make a tremendous impact in providing protection for employees, building occupants, and loved ones.

Hurricane Doors

1. What is a Hurricane Door?

A hurricane rated door is a door that protects against debris and wind damage from extreme weather conditions, such as a hurricane. Hurricane doors can include a front door, garage door, back door, and patio door, depending on your needs. When a door is hurricane rated, it means that particular door opener will prevent damage and entry from flying debris, water, and wind from entering your home.

In addition to installing a hurricane proof front door or other hurricane door protection, many homeowners install hurricane proof windows, as well. Each weak point in a home is susceptible to damage from hurricane force winds, flying debris, heavy rain, and floodwater. Installing a hurricane front door is a good first step, but if you want the most protection, then a hurricane door for any other openings can also be beneficial.

A hurricane impact front door, sliding door, or patio doors are all crafted from materials that make them highly resistant to winds in a high velocity hurricane zone. They are rated for their impact resistance and the hurricane force wind load they can withstand. The best models are also watertight, ensuring that the impact rated door will stand up against high winds in addition to the heavy rain that accompanies hurricanes and heavy storm systems.

2. What Makes a Door Hurricane Proof?

Hurricane rated doors are considered hurricane proof because of the materials they are made out of and the protection they provide to occupants inside commercial buildings and homes. Similar to fire doors, hurricane rated doors can be manufactured with door closers to ensure that the doors always remain closed when they are not actively being walked through. This is important for proper functioning. Like a fire door, if a hurricane rated door is cracked open instead of securely shut during a hurricane, the wind load can pull the door opening, rendering void any protective capabilities it would have provided.

Hurricane entry doors, back doors, and patio doors are made from several materials, including tempered or laminated glass, thick fiberglass, and polyurethane foam cores that make them resistant to hurricane season wind, high wind speed, and wind load. An impact entry door, such as a fiberglass door, will be put through rigorous testing against impact, wind load, force of debris, and even water damage. Check ratings to make sure the hurricane rated openings you're considering for purchase are the type of entry doors or patio doors you need for your area.

It's important to note that a hurricane rated door is only one piece of the puzzle. If you have a hurricane proof door, but your windows are regular windows, then you need to consider switching out the windows you have with a better option. Ideally, every weak point in your home should be protected against the heavy force of storms during hurricane season. This is especially true of large bay windows and patio doors. All large sections of glass, such as patio doors, should be made of hurricane proof material to provide you with the most protection possible in times of hurricanes and storms.

Impact Doors

1. What is an Impact Door?

An impact door is largely what you'd expect—a door that can withstand a certain level of impact from flying debris due to high wind and stormy weather. These types of doors are highly effective and popular in areas where hurricanes, tornadoes, and other heavy storm events regularly occur.

You might be surprised to learn that impact doors can be made from a wide variety of materials, including metal and fiberglass. Even an impact glass entry door is going to be just as secure as impact windows. So, you can feasibly install French doors, a back patio door made of tempered glass, or other impact resistant doors that protect the interior of your home from debris while providing a view.

Depending on your need, you can choose an impact door that is just right for your space. You can opt for an impact door made of a material like stainless steel, fiberglass, or laminated glass. Style-wise, you can take advantage of numerous options, including sliding glass doors, French doors, bifold doors, and entryway doors.

As with other impact rated doors, you'll want to consult the label to determine what level of impact the storm door, window, or other impact resistant doors you're considering prior to installation. Thanks to the variety of available materials, your impact door can add serious curb appeal and style to the front of your home, in addition to adding to the overall value.

2. Are Impact Doors Worth it?

Whether you choose laminated glass, aluminum, or a hurricane impact door made of stainless steel, you'll immediately gain the benefit of providing superior protection for the inside of your home. In areas where weather such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy winds, and significant storm systems tend to cause significant damage and destruction, an impact door could mean the difference between a tree branch coming to a rest inside your living room or remaining just outside the interior of your home.

Where an impact front door or a hurricane impact door comes into play is when you want to keep those you love safe when taking shelter inside your home. The more protection you can provide to the inside of your home, the better. For homes with large glass windows and glass patio doors, this is especially true. Replacing a standard glass sliding door with a hurricane impact door is a significant upgrade that provides peace of mind and a good return on investment should you ever decide to sell your home.

If you value greater protection against water infiltration, UV rays, debris, wind damage, and other issues from frequent storms in your area while maintaining curb appeal and the aesthetic style of your home, an impact front door is a clear choice. Upgrading your home with increased protection against the elements will always be worth the investment.

Safety Doors Provide an Extra Measure of Protection

Safety rated doors are highly effective in providing hurricane protection, impact protection, and fire protection. The type of door you choose will depend on your specific needs, and whether you need impact resistance options, protection from a high wind load, or extra fire safety. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to choose from, and the team at Rustica can help you decide which type of door would be best for your home.

Options range from sliding glass doors with impact resistant glass, exterior doors made of a solid wood slab, steel doors, and more. We can even help you match doors with desired window dressings, shutter styles, and hurricane windows that are already installed in your home. We care about your safety and the exterior design you want to maintain.

No matter what type of safety door you need, Rustica's design team is ready to help you find the right door that satisfies your style and safety needs.
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