Q: Our city hall is older and the entrance and other doors
don’t meet ADA standards. Can we install a wider door without tearing out
A: Ah, yes, there are multiple problems related to doors —
so many, in fact, that I’ll revisit the topic often.
Of course, your absolute first concern should be ensuring doors be at least
32 inches wide as required in the ADA
Accessibility Guidelines: (See 4 .13.5 Doorway Clear Width, 4.2.1*
Wheelchair Passage Width, and 4.3.3 Width.)
Also, the recently released 2010 ADA guidelines
include a comment that clears up confusion about doorways with crash bars (see
image: In this picture I’m trapped between double-leaf doors with crash
404.2.3 Clear Width. Doorways shall have a clear opening of
32 inches (815 mm) minimum. Clear openings of doorways with swinging doors shall
be measured between the face of the door and the stop, with the door open 90
degrees. Openings more than 24 inches (610 mm) deep shall provide a clear
opening of 36 inches (915 mm) wide minimum. There shall be no projections into
the required clear opening width lower than 34 inches (865 mm) above the finish
floor or ground. Projections into the clear opening width between 34 inches (865
mm) and 80 inches (2030 mm) above the finish floor or ground shall not exceed 4
inches (100 mm).
The following are common-sense solutions to common doorway problems:
Problem: Too narrow, a problem often seen in restrooms but
also at offices and even building entrances.
Solution: If possible, add swing-away hinges that put the
door behind the actual frame. This usually widens the doorway by 2 inches,
increasing clearance to the 31- to 31½-inches acceptable for an existing
Problem: Double-leaf doors but both doors are too
Solutions: According to 4.13.4 Double-Leaf Doorways, if
doorways have two independently operated door leaves, at least one leaf must
meet the minimum 32-inch specification. Try installing:
1. One leaf with the required width (a 36-inch door guarantees the required
width); the other with a smaller door or enclosed window that provides
aesthetics, better light, and the ability to see what’s on the other side
3. A single centered door that meets the requirements, with
either a wall or glass enclosures on both sides of the door.
Problem: Double-leaf doors with both doors too narrow and a
1. Use the same approaches suggested for double-leaf doors and reinforce the
overhead support so the stanchion can be removed completely.
2. Move the
stanchion to the side to allow for the new panel, or use the glass frame for
Problem: Sliding doors that are too narrow when open because
Solution: Installing a handle to open and close a sliding
door is a great accessible addition but can decrease the passing width space
allowance. Be sure to allow an opening that meets the 32-inch clearance by
ordering a wider door. A 36-inch door works perfectly.
Next month I’ll discuss doorways that don’t provide the side space that
people with disabilities need to open a door.