Tom has 17 years of experience as a commercial locksmith and over 20 years in door hardware distribution.
American aluminum and glass storefront doors often have the characteristic that they have much more glass than aluminum. The aluminum tubing that comprises the stiles is usually only 1-3/4 to 3-1/2 inches wide, limiting the kinds of hardware that can be used. Some aluminum storefront doors come with 5 inch stiles allowing more hardware choices.
Almost all aluminum doors are 1-3/4 inches thick, however, other thicknesses do appear. Be sure to measure the thickness of the door before ordering any hardware.
The photos below show three very common locking devices used with aluminum narrow stile storefront doors: the Adams Rite 4591 paddle, the Adams Rite 4900 dead latch and the Adams Rite MS1850 deadbolt.
The Adams Rite 4591 latch paddle is used with the Adams Rite 4900 series heavy duty latch (shown below) or the Adams Rite 4510 series regular duty latch. The 4591 is a new and improved version of the old 4590 latch paddle, featuring stronger and more durable springs and a dogging feature that is unavailable on the 4590. The 4590 is still available and is slightly less expensive.
In rare instances we've found that the 4591 is too wide and makes contact with the stop.
The Adams Rite 4900 is a new, improved automatic locking dead latch offering increased security and durability over their old model, the 4710. Egress through the 4900 is accomplished by the 4591 paddle. In many instances, however, the paddle does not provide the door coverage required by life safety regulations and may be rejected by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). In structures with an occupancy rated over a certain number of people an exit device with a push pad spanning one-half to two-thirds the overall width of the door may be required.
The Adams Rite MS1850S is the most common deadbolt shipped with new aluminum storefront doors. It is often called a 'flip bolt' because the deadbolt flips up out of the lock body into a slot cut into the door frame or into the inactive leaf of a pair of doors. The MS1850S is designed to be a double keyed, or keyed on both sides, deadbolt, locking people in as well as out. For obvious reasons, this function can be problematic when inspection time comes and the Fire Marshal sees that people could be locked in. As a means of answering this complaint, Adams Rite now offers the 4550 lever handle (see below) for the MS1850S deadbolt.
Information Needed to Order
To order an Adams Rite latch or deadbolt, you need to know:
- Backset in inches
- Faceplate - beveled, radius faced, or flat
Available backsets are:
- 7/8" (rare)
Locks are field reversible, but faceplates are not, so if your faceplate is beveled, specify right hand or left hand.
Standard finishes are:
- 628 Anodized Aluminum
- 313 Anodized Dark Bronze
- 335 Anodized Black
Accessories for the MS1850
There are many accessories available that add functionality to the MS1850. For example, the 4015 threshold and 4016 or 4085 header bolt transform the MS1850 from a single point lock to a two- or three-point locking device often used to secure pairs of doors.
Above is shown the 4550 lever, used with an MS1850 series dead bolt. The lever has an integral visual indicator showing whether the locked or unlocked, and offers one-motion, one-handed egress. Whereas the MS1850 was designed as a double keyed lock with cylinders on both sides, the 4550 allows it to be used as an entrance lock that complies with life safety code in many jurisdictions.
Before using this solution be sure to consult with your local building inspector or fire marshal.
Adams Rite offers a wide variety of exit devices for aluminum storefront doors, including rim, surface vertical rod, concealed vertical rod, and mortise exit devices. Adams Rite is one of the few companies that make a narrow stile surface vertical rod exit device. Some door manufacturers use or have used Adams Rite exit devices as original equipment on their products.
One nice feature of the mortise exit device is that the mortise lock that comes with it is a drop-in replacement for the 4900 or 4510 dead latch - great to know if you need to replace a latch paddle with an exit device to comply with life safety code.
Doromatic offers rim and concealed vertical rod exit devices for narrow stile aluminum doors. Doromatic exit devices have been used as original equipment by some door manufacturers.
Jackson offers rim and concealed vertical rod exit devices for narrow stile aluminum doors. Jackson exit devices have been used as original equipment by some door manufacturers.
Corbin, Sargent, Von Duprin and Yale all offer exit devices usable on aluminum storefront doors. Some manufacturers offer devices that will fit on narrow stile doors, some only make devices that will fit on medium or wide stile doors.
To order, you need to know:
- Door width
- Door height
- Single door or pair of doors
All door closer manufacturers make surface mounted door closers specifically for narrow stile aluminum storefront door applications. They also all make adapter plates for installation of their non-specific surface closers in narrow stile aluminum door applications.
Door closers are often installed in the top jam configuration on narrow stile doors. Since the header tube us usually around two inches high, many closers have mounting holes placed vertically only one inch apart.
Parallel arm installation has become more popular in recent years. Because the top rail of an aluminum storefront door is often only three inches high, a drop plate is usually need to make the door closer installation possible.
For more information see Door Closer Basics
Many door closer manufacturers make concealed overhead door closers for use on aluminum storefront applications. The ones I encounter most often are:
- Dorma RTS88 series
- Jackson 100 and 300 series
- LCN 2030 series
To order, you need to know:
- Door width
- Interior or exterior door
- Degree of swing and/or hold open
- Hold open or non-hold open
- Double acting or single acting door
- Finish for cover plates and arms if necessary
Tom rubenoff (author) from United States on November 01, 2012:
Thank you, Jess. Always great to hear from you.
Jess on October 25, 2012:
i never really took notice of this hub, and just as bbnix said, i enjoy commercial doors as well, but my specialty is more in the door closers. im known on the internet as Jess the door closer doctor, and i am willing to answer any questions on door closers (not automatics, just manual/hydraulic) anyone may have (concealed as well as surface closers)
-Jess the door closer doctor
MsDesign1 from Riverside, CA on September 24, 2011:
Great well illustrated article.
bbnix from Southern California on April 11, 2011:
Hey this is great. I had the chance to work in commercial doors for a while, including automatics, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I don't believe I've had the chance to meet anyone else who talked about it, so this we can share much, my friend. I look forward to it...
sreeiit on February 26, 2010:
this is a very useful poat