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Door Closer Grades Explained

Door Closer Grades Explained

So you are in the market for a door closer, but you realize they are classified by grades. You see some door closers are grade 1, or 2, or even 3. You also see other door closers with no grade listed. In this article we will go over everything you need to know about door closer grades, so that you can make an educated decision in ordering the right door closer for your door.

The first thing to understand is that door closer grades were created as part of the ANSI/BHMA 156.4 standards as a universal way of categorizing the performance of commercial door closers. ANSI, or the American National Standards Institute creates guidelines and testing standards for products, systems, and more in the United States. BHMA, or Builder's Hardware Manufacturers Association, is an organization which is accredited by ANSI to develop performance standards for builder's hardware including door closers. Both organizations are driven by safety. The ANSI/BHMA standards that apply to door closers is known as ANSI/BHMA 156.4 Door Controls - Closers. These guidelines are followed by manufacturers to provide quality and safe products.

ANSI/BHMA 156.4 Door Controls - Door Closers

The ANSI BHMA 156.4 applies to surface mounted door closers, overhead concealed door closers, and concealed floor closers. Testing includes the number of door cycles, door operation, door closing force, and finish tests all performed in under a neutral air pressure laboratory between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Door closer product grades are categorized as grade 1, 2, or 3. Grade 1 is considered the highest grade or most heavy duty, while grade 3 is the lowest grade or lighter duty.

The door closer grade is determined by the number of door cycles it has been tested for and has completed. One door cycle is defined as the door being pushed to full open position and then closing.

Grade 1 Door Closers: Tested for 2 million cycles at 60% efficiency
Grade 2 Door Closers: Tested for 1 million cycles at 50% efficiency
Grade 3 Door Closers: Tested for 500,000 cycles at 50% efficiency

Door Traffic and Grades

At first glance, 2 million door cycles sounds like a lot, and you may not need that depending on the location of your door and the frequency the door is used. Below are some common door cycle estimations for doors to consider.

High Estimated Door Use Examples:
  • Convenience Store Entry: Approximately 5,000 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 1.5 million Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Corporate Office Building Entry: Approximately 4,000 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 1.2 million Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Movie Theater Entry: Approximately 1,000 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 450,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Highschool Front Entry Door: Approximately 1,250 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 225,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Bank Front Entry Door : Approximately 500 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 150,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
Medium Estimated Door Use Examples:
  • School Hallway Door: Approximately 80 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 15,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Grocery Store Restroom Door: Approximately 75 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 22,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Residential Front Entry Door: Approximately 50 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 18,250 Opening Cycles Per Year
Low Estimated Door Use Examples:
  • Janitor Storeroom Door: Approximately 40 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 7,500 Opening Cycles Per Year
  • Home Bathroom Door: Approximately 25 Opening Cycles Per Day; Approximately 9,000 Opening Cycles Per Year
Another consideration in regards to the door closer grade is that the ANSI/BHMA 156.4 cycle test is being completed in a controlled environment. This means that your door may have other factors which can hinder or alter the actual completed door cycles. As an example, if your door application is an area with lots of air stack pressure from the ventilation system that will affect the capability of the product. Or maybe, you have a bottom brush sweep at the base of your door, which causes excess friction. This will also affect the number of door cycles.

Door Closer Grades and Door Sizes

In general terms, the bigger the door, the bigger the door closer spring. Door closer springs are sized as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. With spring size 6 being the biggest and spring size 1 being the smallest.

Exterior Door Size and Spring Size Examples:
  • 24" To 28" wide door, recommended spring size 1
  • 28" To 32" wide door, recommended spring size 2
  • 32" To 36" wide door, recommended spring size 3
  • 36" To 42" wide door, recommended spring size 4
  • 42" To 48" wide door, recommended spring size 5

Interior Door Size and Spring Size Examples:
  • 28" To 32" wide door, recommended spring size 1
  • 32" To 36" wide door, recommended spring size 2
  • 36" To 42" wide door, recommended spring size 3
  • 42" To 48" wide door, recommended spring size 4
  • 48" To 54" wide door, recommended spring size 5
Now how does the door size correspond to the door closer grade? Well you really have to consider the door location and size. For example, typically heavier doors come with more wear and tear in general. A heavy door is harder to push open and requires more force to close. If there is wind or stack pressure, it is easier for wind to push against a larger door's surface area, than a smaller door's surface area. If the bigger door has a bottom door sweep, it will be longer than a skinny door's door sweep, and therefore have more friction. How many hinges are on the bigger door. Is the bigger door outfitted with only 3 hinges and it should have been 4? All of these outside factors related to door size can affect the performance of the door closer. A grade 1 door closer is always the best bet for quality performance and reliability, especially considering the outside factors that could occur.

Door Closer Prices and Grades

The number one question every building owner, repair service man, or home owner asks...What's the price difference. In general, the better the door closer grade, the more costly the door closer is. For example, a grade 1 door closer costs more than a grade 2 door closer or grade 3. Unfortunately, grade 1, 2, or 3 door closers can all look the same. It is important to read the door closers specifications to ensure you are purchasing the proper grade door closer.

When it comes to the door closer grade, you do not want to disregard it. For example, if you are in the market for a door closer for the french doors in your home, then a grade 3 door closer will suffice. However, if you are a commercial building maintenance technician and you are replacing the door closer on the main building's front entry doors, then a grade 1 should be used. Over your lifetime you have walked through millions of doors and I can bet that some of those doors you have noticed a broken door closer with leaking oil. The majority of the time, the reason the door closer fails is because it is being installed improperly on the wrong type of door. A grade 3 door closer should not be installed on high traffic door.

Buyer Beware!
In today's market you really have to be aware of what you are buying. If you are in the market for door closers you may come across models that don't list details like the door closer grade. This is often because those door closers have not been tested so it is unknown how long that door closer will last if installed on a commercial door. These unlisted door closers tend to sell for very inexpensive prices as they seem to be closer to the grade 3 type or less in terms of opening cycle performance.

If you are looking for a commercial door closer we recommend our Liberty door closer brand and here is why. All of our Liberty door closers come standard as grade 1 for the price of grade 2. So if you are installing the door closer on any kind of commercial door, front entry or low frequency storeroom, Liberty door closers will do the job and last at a very economical price. Our door closers are trusted by over 50,000 businesses across the USA.

Door Closer Grades and Quality

Door closer grades are designed as a universal method of conforming to the number of cycles a door closer is good for. A grade 1 door closer obviously has been tested to complete more door cycles than a grade 2. But, are all grade 1 door closers equally the same. The short answer is no. For example lets say Door Closer "A" is a grade 1 door closer and Door Closer "B" is also a grade 1 door closer. Door Closer "A" was tested and completed 2.5 million cycles. Since it completed more than 2 million door cycles it was categorized as a Grade 1 door closer. Now let's say Door Closer "B" was tested and completed 6 million cycles. By definition, Door Closer "B" is still categorized as a Grade 1 door closer.

As you can see door closer grade is very important and is a good signal of if a door closer is heavy duty or will last. However, even with the door closer grades identified, door closers can vary in quality.


Ultimately, any kind of door is an investment. Installing an inferior grade door closer, could result in premature wear and tear on other parts of your door. It is important to always consider the door's location, frequency of use, and size of door when selecting the door closer grade. Remember, door closer grade is a measure of how many door cycles the door closer has been tested for, so if you want the door closer to last for many years, a higher grade ensures this!

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