Door Closer Types: How to Choose the Right Closer

Posted on: 07.07.2023
Categories: DCD News
Grey leaf and a half doors with door closer and signage

Do you need some help with how to choose the right closer? How do you find the one you need out of the hundreds available?

Unless you are replacing like-for-like, or have an architect's specification of an exact brand and model, how do you know the best door closer for your facility?

Choosing the right door closer depends on so many factors. It can become overwhelming as a landlord or facilities manager to make sure you get the right closer for the right job. And as the responsible person, you have a legal obligation, as well as a moral duty, to ensure your building is safe and secure for its users and occupants.

Fitting the wrong type of door and door hardware could end up being a costly mistake. 

  • Unnecessary maintenance or repair if the hardware isn’t robust enough for the application.
  • Excess wear and tear in high-use areas.
  • Or the worst case scenario - fines for failure to comply with fire safety regulations and building standards in the event of a fire or other incident.

You already know you need a closer, but which one, and why? At Door Controls Direct, we are here to help cut through the jargon and explain the main types of door closers.

Selecting The Ideal Door Closer For Any Situation

Choosing the perfect door closing mechanism begins with recognising and understanding the different types of door closer. There are several factors to be considered before making any decisions:

  • Aesthetics - designers and end users are frequently keen to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look in addition to the required functionality of opening and closing a door.
  • Building specifications - there are regulations in place to ensure that the correct closers are chosen for fire doors.
  • The location of the door - interior and exterior doors will have different requirements.
  • The size and weight of the door - heavier doors will require stronger and more durable door closers.
  • Mounting location - closers can be mounted at the top of the door, onto the frame, or into the floor.
  • Traffic frequency – high traffic areas require robust door closers that will be capable of withstanding frequent use.
  • Closing speed – do you need control over closing speed? Doors that are used in loading areas for example would need to close slower than some personnel doors.
  • Type of door - single or double doors, single or double swing, timber doors or composite doors, panelled doors or glazed, narrow or wide, heavy duty solid core or lightweight hollow core doors - all have differing requirements for an effective closing device.

Door Closer Types

Overhead Door Closers

Overhead Door Closer

Overhead door closers are the most common and are found in both residential and commercial properties. They can be fitted to both internal and external doors.  The main variations are scissor arm door closers and slide arm door closers.

There are three common mounting options for scissor arm overhead door closers:

Regular/Standard Arm Closers

These are located on the pull side of the door and have two arms, one on the frame and one with a spring loaded box.  When the arms are closed they project out from the door.  This option is the most power-efficient option available although less aesthetically pleasing.

Transom-Mounted Overhead Door Closers

Like standard arm door closers, the arms project out from the door rather than sitting flat. The main difference is that the spring-loaded box is mounted on the door frame. The most common application is to aluminium or glass doors, mainly because these doors often have narrow top rails. 

Parallel Arm Closers

These have two arms that sit on top of the door when it is closed. They are attached to the door via a spring-loaded box.  This sits at the top of the push-side of the door. Parallel arm door closers are fairly common and are frequently used in commercial properties and schools. 

Fitting a closer in parallel arm configuration does mean you lose some of the efficiency. However, they are considered to be more visually appealing than other overhead options as they project a lot less.

Slide Arm Door Closers

Slide arm or slide channel closers provide similar functionality to scissor arm door closers but they’re known for being more efficient. They usually have a cam action mechanism, rather than a rack and pinion. 

Slide arm overhead closers are the perfect choice for care homes. They’re a discreet surface mounted closer with reduced opening forces, making them more accessible whilst providing secure closing.

Concealed Door Closers Types

Concealed Door Closer

Jamb Mounted Door Closers and Chain Door Closers

This type of door closer is recessed into the door and frame so is completely hidden when the door is closed.

  • Typically used for lightweight interior doors.
  • Invisible when the door is closed so aesthetically appealing.
  • Efficient hydraulic mechanisms are available.
  • Models for use on fire doors like the Powermatic R100.

Given that there are a few options to choose from, check your door thickness, weight, and fire rating to see which model best suits your door.

Floor Springs

These are very durable and work well on heavy traffic, heavy-weight doors. Only the floor cover plate is visible when the door is open. 

  • Heavy duty hidden door closing option.
  • Floor springs are typically used on glass storefront doors due to weight and usage.
  • Optional hold open function for high traffic doors.
  • Double and single action options

Concealed Overhead Door Closers

If you need to replace or install an overhead closer, it doesn’t have to be surface mounted. Concealed overhead closers are a discreet, easy to install option.

  • Fire rated options for doors up to FD60 1 hour rated.
  • Aesthetically pleasing design, invisible when the door is closed.
  • Single and double action options.
  • Electromagnetic hold open function available.

We also have supporting videos such as how to adjust the dormakaba ITS96 concealed door closer.

Transom Door Closers 

The final common type of concealed door closer is a transom mounted unit, like the Dormakaba RTS87

  • Different power size options to suit different door leaf weights.
  • Optional hold open function providing easy and convenient access.
  • Sold as complete units or separate mechanisms for ease of stock holding and maintenance.
  • Suitable for single and double swing doors.

Types of Fire Door Closers

Compliant fire door hardware that is correctly installed and maintained saves lives. Do you know what types of door closer can be fitted to a fire door?

The answer? Any of the above.

There are of course key criteria that a surface mounted closer or concealed closer would need to meet for use on fire rated doors:

  • CE Marked.
  • Successfully tested to the relevant BS/EN test standards.
  • Installed at power size EN 3 or above.
  • Fitted with intumescent protection where required.

If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s test certification and Declaration of Performance (DOP) for the exact details.

Fire and smoke check doors are only effective as long as they are closed. Fire door closers automatically close a door after it has been opened, or once it has been released if it is usually held open. This makes them a crucial part of a building’s passive fire protection measures.

Heavy duty door closer types from floor springs to transom mounted overhead closers will all perform as required on a fire control door. Whatever closing mechanism you have installed needs to be a power size 3 as a minimum on a fire door.

Higher power size closers can be installed on heavy, wide, or tall doors to ensure the door closes fully into the frame. But if you have a fairly light or narrow fire door, the closer should not be adjusted down below EN 3.

Head to our YouTube channel to see a variety of door closer installation videos including the dormakaba TS73EMF electromagnetic hold open door closer.

Door Closer Functions

Hopefully you now feel well informed about the types of door closers available. Still have questions? Very possibly as door closers can be a bit of a minefield! 

Even when you understand the different types, there are different brands, fitting requirements, and functions that closers can have. To find out more, check out another of our blogs A Complete Guide to Selecting the Right Door Closer

This is where we cover more about the door itself, door closer mounting, and functions like backcheck, delayed action, and speed adjustment.

Prefer to speak to someone and get advice on what door closer you need? Get in touch with our technical sales team weekdays from 8am on 01305 263300, or email us any time: [email protected]

Author: Louise Frost Posted by: Louise Frost

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