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Assessing Your Access Control Needs Pt. 1: Getting Your Foot in the Door

Looking into an Access Control project?  Be sure to keep the following valuable information handy. Whether you’re looking at tackling a DIY project, or hiring a professional company take care of everything, the few guidelines below will certainly help all parties involved.

For now, we are going to talk about the doors themselves.  There are several styles and types you may find in your building, and each one is going to have different characteristics that result in different methods of installing hardware.

Common Door Styles:

  • Single swinging door
  • Double swing door
  • Double swing door with a center beam
  • Electric motorized doors

Single Swing Doors:

single swing doorThis style of door will be the most common you’ll encounter when dealing with interior doors. Most often you will find them with metal frames, and they’re generally made of wood. Depending on the frame, you would usually want to go with an electric strike. This will be the simplest solution, and also the most cost-effective. In some cases, depending on the frame, a mag-lock (magnetic lock) may be needed, which will require you to have an emergency form of egress to exit the building.

Double Swing Doors:

Double doors can be tricky, and are commonly found in glass, wood or steel types. If the doors are interior and havedouble swing doorthe ability to swing freely, you will have few options available, and may find yourself leaning towards the mag-lock option. Again, keep in mind that if this is the case, then you must find a way to have egress on the exiting side of the door. Some double doors may not be free swinging, and instead have locking mechanisms that require you to perform some type of action as you exit the door, such as the pushing a button or a crash bar. A crash bar is a large button that is the width of the door that you have to walk directly up to the door and push on to release the door before you can push it open. If this is the case, we may still be looking at a mag-lock solution.

Double-Swing Doors with a Center Beam:

double swing door with center beamSame concept as above, but when you have a center beam that acts as a stopper for the door, in some cases this can give you the ability to go with an electric strike. In the event you had to go with a mag-lock, you would basically treat the doors as if the center beam did not exist and follow the preceding guidelines.

Electric Motorized Doors:

Motorized doors can actually be very simple when you look past all the existing cable and components of the door itself.motorized door Special hardware will be needed, like a device called a “pin lock” that is used to secure the door in the locked position (most automatic doors already will have the device pre-installed in the door). Also, the doors have the ability to recognize when to open or close when someone is close enough to the door thanks to motion detectors usually located on the door or above the ceiling; this will act as the egress method for this door.

Keep in mind when looking at types of doors such as metal, glass or wood we can insinuate that certain models will restrict us to use a certain type of lock such as a strike or mag, but more importantly we need to be looking at the frame. Most commercial doors and frames are pre-fitted for hardware – this may require you to disassemble a piece or two of the door, but a little homework go a long ways.

Nathan Weaver


  1. AccessControlGuy on March 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

    It is highly recommended to take pictures of both sides of the door(s) and the lock(s) for every access control application that you work on. This is especially helpful when you have a multi-door access job.

  2. Jim on March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Is the only option for double swing doors, magnetic locks? Or, can you use an electric strike for these? I’m trying to avoid having to deal with the fire dept, alarm company, etc.

  3. Jonathan on April 11, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Great breakdown of the various door types and their access control scenarios.

  4. Nathan Weaver on April 11, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Response for Jim,

    Generally double swing doors will require Mag-Locks to be installed. However, some double swing doors may have a center support beam between the two doors that are used to secure and lock each door, depending on the width of this beam you may be able to use a strike setup. I would highly suggest call the professionals at Virtual Surveillance, with a few pictures of the door they can tell you exactly what road you will need to go down.

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