What is hurricane-rated door hardware?
Developers building in a hurricane zone are familiar with hurricane-rated door hardware and the required building regulations. After the damage from Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina, code officials established more stringent specifications for buildings in high-wind areas.
The Florida Legislature created the Florida Building Commission. It gave them the task of drafting a statewide building code to develop regulations that help prevent damage from strong winds and hurricanes throughout Florida.
There are specific tests that products have to pass before they receive the hurricane-rated seal of approval. Testers ensure that the door and all of its components can stand up against specific amounts of wind pressure, water infiltration, and debris impact. If the products make it through those tests, they qualify as hurricane-rated.
How is hurricane-rated door hardware rated?
Hurricane hardware is heavy-duty and can withstand more pressure than standard door hardware.
According to the National Hurricane Center, winds have to reach and sustain 74mph during a sustained time before they’re considered “hurricane-force” winds; however, it takes much less force to cause damage to your door.
There is also more than wind speed to consider when believing a door will withstand a powerful storm. It’s usually the debris that gets thrown around by the wind force that causes the most damage.
Hurricane door ratings are based on how much wind force a door can withstand and all its components (the frame, hardware, etc.). This force is measured by pounds of pressure per inch, otherwise known as “PI.”
The level of PI you need varies depending on your building’s environment. For example, let’s say you have a building directly on the beach in a hurricane-prone area. It could require a PI of 70 or 80, while a facility located further inland might only need a PI of 60.
The average wind force of a particular area often decrees what level of PI is needed.
Products are put through several tests before they receive the hurricane-rated seal of approval. For example, doors and door hardware go through rigorous testing to make sure that they can withstand gale-force winds produced by powerful storms. In addition, each manufacturer offers unique aspects to their hurricane hardware that ensures the force it can hold.
Testing standards for hurricane doors are developed and enforced by third-party certifiers. The test categories for hurricane doors and hardware are “Wind Only” and “Wind and Impact.” Both need to pass the static pressure testing, while the “Wind and Impact” category also needs to pass the cyclical pressure and debris impact tests.
Also, during a hurricane, negative pressure develops on the exterior of buildings, while positive pressure builds up inside the buildings. To keep the doors from being either sucked out or blown in and harming occupants, the door and its components must hold during the pressure changes.
So hurricane-rated hardware doors and hardware must first undergo static pressure testing to simulate this pressure change scenario. Some readily available commercial hardware, such as a regular mortise lock, has proven to hold during these pressure change tests.
Testers ensure that the door and all its components can withhold specific amounts of wind pressure, water infiltration, and debris impact. If a product passes these tests, it is qualified as hurricane-rated.
For example, many SDI (Steel Door Institute) certified manufacturers produce doors that can resist winds from 110 to 170 miles per hour and follow the strict codes of the ANSI A250.13, the Florida building code (FBC), and the South Florida Building Code(SFBC).
TownSteel’s certified hurricane-rated door hardware also meets the ANSI A250.13 building code standards.
TownSteel’s hurricane-rated hardware:
- Mechanical mortise (MSE)
- Electronic mortise (e-Kontos)
- Mechanical Interconnected (m-Genius)
- Electronic Interconnected (e-Genius)
- Mechanical Cylindrical (CE) with Tubular Deadbolt (DBD)
- Electronic Cylindrical (CEM, otherwise known as e-Elite) with Tubular Deadbolt (DBD), but this combination cannot be installed in the conventional position of deadbolt on top.
Exterior doors and hurricane hardware that meets Florida Building Code regulations is visibly labeled with the Florida Building Code approval number and a “windstorm-rated” stamp. The manufacturer puts these labels on when the doors and door hardware are built.
These door components must be labeled:
- The door itself
- Exit device
If there is a water infiltration standard in the county where your structure is built, your threshold and weather stripping must also be windstorm-rated and labeled.
Hurricane doors are installed in a variety of public buildings and therefore are usually available for framing in concrete, wood, block, and metal stud walls. For an easy and convenient install you can purchase a complete door package with all components individually labeled for an easy and convenient install.
‘Tis the Season
While the news from recent catastrophic hurricanes is fresh in our minds, it is an excellent time to prepare for the unknown of 2023’s hurricane season.
Installing hurricane-rated doors and door hardware also brings unexpected perks such as energy efficiency, increased security, insurance discounts, and noise reduction. Plus, residential and commercial hurricane-rated doors and hardware are designed to function efficiently without complicated locking systems.
Even if your structure does not require hurricane-rated doors and door hardware, and you live in an area prone to hurricanes, being proactive now will bring peace of mind. And in the most extreme scenario, this one step could save your pocketbook and property from a great wind blowing it all away.