What is the industry standard for clearance around a steel door in a steel frame?

Where the doors are fire rated, these clearances are regulated by NFPA 80, “Fire Doors & Other Opening Protectives”. The clearance between the door and frame shall be a maximum of 1/8″. The clearance between the meeting edges of pair of doors shall be 3/16″. The clearance from the bottom of the door to the bottom of the frame should be a maximum of 3/4″. The clearance between the face of the door and the stop shall be 1/16″. See SDI 100 A250.8-2.1.8 for complete specifications.

While the clearances of non-fire rated openings are not regulated by the Building or Fire Code, they typically will follow the same values as a rated door.

If the gap at the bottom of a metal door is more than 3/4″, can the deficiency be overcome by adding an automatic door bottom or a metal astragal-like strip to the bottom edge of the door?

Refer to ANSI 250.8 paragraph 2.1.8 entitled “Design Clearance” and the subparagraphs underneath that. Those paragraphs specifically and clearly delineate and define the design clearances for between the door and the frame, between the meeting edges of pairs of doors, and the clearance measure from the bottom of the door to the bottom of the frame.

What are the benefits and setbacks of grouting a frame in masonry construction?

If grouting is done properly it will not cause any issues with the frame. It will actually improve the sound deadening qualities. Unfortunately, thin pumpable slurry is often used and the excess water in it causes rust. Grout should always be hand troweled, never pumped.

For fire rated openings, you should verify with the frame manufacturer that if a bituminous coating is used to protect the steel frame against any corrosive effects of the grout its use will not negate the fire protection rating.

Can I use grout for drywall construction?

No. Grouting should never be specified for drywall construction. When grout is drying, the moisture only has two places to go. The first is into the drywall, which weakens it. This could hinder the frame’s integrity or ability to retain anchors. The other place the moisture could go is into the hardware or the bottom of the frame, which may result in rust.

What is the final step when installing hollow metal frames?

The final step in installing any frame is to double check for plumb and square before installing the door. Refer to SDI-122 for details.

Architects using hollow metal door and window frames on exterior openings sometimes incorrectly assume that frames are watertight. In fact, most seams in hollow metal frame construction are not welded nor sealed, unless by the painter. Many specifiers now write their specifications to include some of the following:

  • Full continuous TIG welds on all hollow metal frame joints, including both horizontal and vertical mullions. (Note: Not every shop is capable of TIG welds.)
  • Mullion construction with both joints of the two-piece mullion turned to the interior.
  • Continuous nailing flashing flanges on all framed construction with plaster to allow integral watertight flashing of the building paper to the nailing flange.

Does the distributor fabricate frames?

There are a small number of contract hardware and hollow metal distributors that have the capability to manufacture frames.

The distributor welds the frames in most cases. Many of them can modify doors and cut in glass light units as well. Distributors are often involved in fire labeling programs too, allowing them to label the door and frame.