As your construction project advances, certain decisions have undoubtedly been made towards making the safest and most resilient structure possible. Weather-sealing against certain elements, protecting from the dangers of exposure, heat, and fire are a few things that need to be thought of to achieve that safety goal.
That’s why paying attention to the quality of construction materials and hardware – as one should – is important. Only the most durable and superior products should be used. So, it’s worth the time to look up a product’s specs and ratings against industry standards set by reputable agencies. Only then can you confidently say that a project is up to code and meets all necessary safety standards.
Speaking of standards, every component of construction that goes together should follow the same ratings and specifications in order to serve their function properly. Take fire ratings on walls, ceilings, and floors for example. These surfaces may be rated safe against fires for a set amount of time, but that doesn’t mean a thing if heat and flames get a chance to breach early through a crack, opening, or worse, a component that doesn’t match the industry standards of the surface it’s installed on.
One of those components that should match standards regarding heat and combustion is the fire rated access door. Generally speaking, access doors make it easy for one to reach pipes, wiring, switches and valves that are normally hidden away behind the drywall or above the ceiling. Additionally, access doors are not limited to walls and ceilings. These products can be installed on floors, used as convenient access for HVAC duct systems, and lets maintenance access building rooftops via roof hatches, with some functioning as smoke vents that automatically let heat out in the event of building fires.
Access doors make it, so you don’t have to keep demolishing wall surfaces every time maintenance needs to do repairs or adjustments to these systems. And a proper fire rated access door not only does that, it can also support and strengthen the specification of any surface it’s installed on.
At this point it’s worth saying that paying attention to the kind of access door you want to install is all kinds of important. Can a steel door satisfy all your requirements? Or does one made from plastic or gypsum be good enough for simple installs? Aside from the material, an access door’s resistance to certain elements should also be considered. Some can seal off air and water, and yes, others are resistant to heat.
Fire rated access panels must complement an existing surface’s fire rating. If the wall or ceiling can withstand heat for a set number of hours, the appropriate fire rated access door should match that protection. Bear in mind, an access door’s heat resistance rating changes depending whether it’s installed horizontally on the ceiling, or vertically on a wall.
The only time this won’t make sense is when a fire rated access door is installed on a surface that is below the door’s specs. Imagine a wall getting destroyed, and in the aftermath, the fire rated access door lying intact and whole in the rubble. So, it’s very important that one checks out their construction materials to ensure certain safety, durability, and other material qualities before acquiring them.
Other characteristics of a good fire rated access door is a self-latching slam latch for security. This means the door remains securely shut every time you close it without ever needing to turn a key. An automatic panel closer should also be standard, shutting it close at any time one lets go of the door. Lastly, what if one finds themselves on the other side of an access door that has closed itself shut? An inside panel release must be included as a standard which enables a person to open the door from the inside just in case of accidental closures.
An additional element to fire rated access doors is the insulation. Some fire rated doors don’t include any insulation. But for those that do, it further adds an extra layer of safety against heat and flames. The insulation is often composed of mineral wool, a material that closely resembles wool but is made from inorganic fibrous mineral material such as slag or ceramics. Mineral wool is commonly used in the construction industry as thermal insulation, a filtration layer, or a soundproofing element. To call mineral wool as a resilient substance is an understatement. For fire rated access doors that carry the extra rating of “insulated,” a layer of mineral wool guarantees further defense and additional time that a structure is protected against intense degrees of heat.
So, do fire rated access doors make the cut? It still depends on your requirements and the quality of the brand you purchase, but there’s also another thing to consider that may push you towards deciding if you’ll go the fire rated access door route for your project.
Installing fire rated access doors in your building may contribute to your project’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating. The LEED stamp of approval is recognized worldwide by all types of construction projects, from commercial to residential. The rating offers an economic and environmentally sustainable framework for efficient, healthy, and cost-saving green buildings. In the long run, LEED certified structures may reduce energy costs, qualify projects for tax rebates, and other similar incentives.
There’s a fire rated access door for every wall, ceiling and floor, and in many different sizes available at BestAccessDoors.com. Choose from different designs that match your or your client’s aesthetic and have the freedom to look around other types of access doors that may suit other areas of your building’s design.
Whatever your motivation, it always pays to choose the best and safest materials for your building. Fire rated access doors are one of the most resilient and effective products out there, and any project manager can sleep soundly knowing that they made the right choice.