What are “Double Egress” Doors and “Double Acting” Doors?

Double egress doors and double acting doors are commonly confused. Read on to discover the differences in application and purpose, and contact LaForce with any additional questions! We also encourage you to bookmark our Door, Frame, and Hardware Glossary for handy reference, or download the PDF version.

Double Egress Doors, Double Acting Doors

 

Double Acting Doors Double Egress Doors
Definition:

A double acting door, also known as a double swinging door or impact traffic door, is a single door or a pair of doors in which the door(s) is able to swing in both directions because of the double acting hinge or pivot hinges. Usually, when there is a pair of doors, the door to the right is considered the active door when viewing the door from the outside (keying side).

Definition:

This type of application is always a pair of doors in which the doors can only swing in the opposite direction. Additionally, each door can only be operated from acting leaf side, which is typically the push/right side to coincide with the traffic flow.

Common Uses:

These doors are a cost-effective solution for fast and efficient, two-way movement through an opening where a visual and/or sound barrier is necessary to separate two areas.

Common Uses:

An opening with double egress application provides quick but safe exit and entry into an area because the traffic on the opposite side of the door does not collide with the oncoming traffic.

Frame Application:

The frame is “cased opened”; therefore, there are no stops or rabbets, which allows the doors to swing freely in both directions.

Frame Application:

A frame with opposite stops and rabbets is necessary to accommodate the doors swinging in the opposite direction.

Areas of Use:

Shipping/receiving areas, restaurant kitchens, supermarkets, grocery stores,  warehouses, storage facilities, etc.

Areas of Use:

In corridors, typically in hospitals, schools, clinics, nursing homes, etc.

Notes:

Common add-on hardware for this type of opening application includes bumper strips made of ¾” to 1 ½” thick extruded aluminum alloy, spring bumpers, impact/base plates and jamb guards. This extra hardware can help prevent damage to the high traffic doors that are often knocked and bumped.

Notes:

Common hardware used for this application is a vertical rod exit device. There is typically no hardware on the pull side of the door.

9 thoughts on “What are “Double Egress” Doors and “Double Acting” Doors?

  1. this comment is for “double acting doors” specifically. due to double acting doors not containing locking/latching mechanisms and does not need any special hardware or actions to open, are these doors required to comply with the minimum door width for egress of 32″ (in this case, per leaf)??…..similar to a double acting gate (or pair of gates)

    1. The answer to your question can be found in NFPA 101 2009 Edition , Chapter 7 Means of Egress Components, Section 7.2.1.2.3 Minimum Door Leaf Width. Paragraph 7.2.1.2.3.1 & 7.2.1.2.3.2.
      Paragraph 7.2.1.2.3.1 is your first point to consider. This paragraph is telling you need to meet the requirements of minimum door width unless the door width is specified.
      Then in paragraph 7.2.1.2.3.2 it gives you the requirements of the door leaf width if the door width is specified.
      7.2.1.2.3.2. starts out saying that “Door Openings in a means of egress shall be not less the 32 in.(810 mm) in clear width unless one of the following conditions exists:”
      It then gives you 9 exceptions, which you only need one of to comply.
      If you have none of the qualified exceptions you could also look at 7.2.1.2.1 Measurement of Clear Width and then A.7.2.1.2.1 in the appendix. Although the appendix is not part of the code it is a good explanation tool and can be review with the AHJ for possible approval.
      We would recommend that you review Chapter 7, Sections 7.2 Means of Egress, 7.2.1 Door Openings (all sections & paragraphs).

      In all cases we recommend that you talk with and discuss possible solutions with your AHJ.

  2. I am trying to find the regulation numbers for the use of double acting doors in hospital patient bathrooms. I need the reasons for their use and the appropriate code numbers…..

    1. Hello Jerry,

      I do not believe there is a building code (like the International Building Code) that calls for patient bathroom doors to have emergency hardware. However, many of the officials in our market areas follow the Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities by The Facilities Guidelines Institute. Within these guidelines, paragraph 5 of Section 2.1-7.2.2.3 calls for Patient bathing / toilet facilities to have “A door that swings outward,” or “A door equipped with emergency rescue hardware.” The doors with the emergency rescue hardware are the double-acting doors. There may be a definite more definite requirement that is enforced by whatever organization the State of Oregon uses to inspect their healthcare facilities, however, we do not operate in Oregon, and are not familiar with their local requirements and standards. I can say that in Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services does have a standard for out-swinging, or double-acting patient bathroom doors.

      The reason for the use of the double acting doors can also be gathered from the FGI Guidelines. “Emergency rescue hardware for toilet room doors permits quick access from outside the room to prevent blockage of the door to ensure quick access from outside the room.” Basically, if you have an in-swinging door on a patient bathroom, the patient could become incapacitated while inside the bathroom and fall against the door, preventing the nursing staff from being able to push the door open and provide aid to the patient. The emergency rescue hardware allows for the door to be swung out in case of this emergency.

    1. Thank you for your question! Double acting doors can latch, but usually only in a very specific instance. Typically, we only see this as an option on patient bathroom doors in a healthcare occupancy where Rescue hardware is used. Most often, though, double-acting doors are used as traffic doors coming in and out of a space like the kitchen in a restaurant. Double acting openings are not allowed to be fire-rated because the frames do not have a stop on them.

  3. Are there fire codes or other reasons that prevent a patient floor from replacing a two-door Exit Fire Doors with a single-door (3.5 foot width or 4 foot width)?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your question! The answer depends on if the doors are separating a corridor for the purpose of smoke compartmentalization or if they are serving as a horizontal exit.

      If we assume these doors are required to divide the floor into separate smoke compartments, then:
      1. If this is an Existing Health Care Occupancy, he/she may be able to use a single door as described. We would need to know more about the specific situation before we can tell him/her for sure.
      2. If it is a New Health Occupancy, then NFPA 101 (2012 edition) applies. Note: Even thought the answer is in 18.3.7.7 it is also important to understand what is said in 18.3.7.6.

      Per NFPA 101 (2012 edition), Chapter 18 “New Health Care Occupancies”:

      18.3.7.6 Doors in smoke barriers shall be substantial doors, such as 1 3/4 in (44 mm) thick, solid-bonded wood-core doors, or shall be of construction that resists fire for a minimum of 20 minutes, and shall meet the following requirements:
      (1) Nonrated factory-or field-applied protective plates, unlimited in height, shall be permitted.
      (2) Cross-corridor openings in smoke barriers shall be protected by a pair of swinging doors or a horizontal-sliding door complying with 7.2.1.14, unless otherwise permitted by 18.3.7.7.
      (3) The swinging doors addressed by 18.3.7.6(2) shall be arranged so that each door swings in a direction opposite from the other.
      (4) The minimum clear width for swinging doors shall be as follows:
      (a) Hospitals and nursing homes — 41 1/2 in (1055 mm)
      (b) Psychiatric hospitals and limited care facilities — 32 in (810 mm)
      (5) The minimum clear width opening for horizontal-sliding doors shall be as follows:
      (a) Hospitals and nursing homes — 6 ft 11 in (2110 mm)
      (b) Psychiatric hospitals and limited care facilities — 64 in (1625 mm)
      (6) The clearance under the bottom of smoke barrier doors shall not exceed 3/4 in (19 mm).

      18.3.7 Cross-corridor openings in smoke barriers that are not in required means of egress from a health care space shall be permitted to be protected by a single-leaf door.

      If the doors are in a New Health Care and serving as a horizontal exit (not compartmentalization), then paragraphs 18.2.2.5.3 – 18.2.2.5.7 apply, whearas 18.2.2.5.3 explains when a single door is permitted.

      18.2.2.5.3 A single door shall be permitted in a horizontal exit if all of the following conditions apply:
      (1) The exit serves one direction only.
      (2) Such door is a swinging door or a horizontal-sliding door complying with 7.2.1.14.
      (3) The door is not less than 41 1/2 in (1055 mm) in clear width.

      18.2.2.5.4 A horizontal exit involving a corridor 8 ft (2440 mm) or more in width and serving as a means of egress from both sides of the doorway shall have the opening protected by a pair of swinging doors arranged to swing in opposite directions from each other, with each door having a clear width of not less than 41 1/2 in (1055 mm), or by a horzontal-sliding door that complies with 7.2.1.14 and provides a clear width of not less than 6 ft 11 in (2110 mm).

      18.2.2.5.5 A horizontal exit involving a corridor 6 ft (1830 mm) or more in width and serving as a means of egress from both sides of the doorway shall have the opening protected by a pair of swinging doors, arranged to swing in opposite directions from each other, with each door having a clear width of not less than 32 in (810 mm), or by a horizontal-sliding door that complies with 7.2.1.14 and provides a clear width o fnot less than 64 in (1625 mm).

      And for horizontal exit doors in Existing Health Care, a single door is acceptable as long as it complies with 19.2.2.5.4.

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