Should I fit closers to the push side or the pull side?

One of the questions we are often asked is, ‘Should I fit a door closer to the push side or the pull side of a door?’.  From research, around 80% of door closers are fitted to the pull side of the door, which would suggest that fitting to pull side is the norm, and BS EN 1154 section 3.21 refers to pull side as the ‘standard installation’ and ‘normal fitting position’. However, there are a number of things to consider when deciding whether to fit the door closer pull or push side, also known as parallel arm position.

Fitting to pull side has some advantages 
Power size
Push side/parallel arm closers are slightly less efficient in closing a door than pull side/regular arms because of the way they are mounted. When you fit on the pull side of a door, you don’t lose a power size, whereas when you fit on the push side, it is not uncommon to lose a power size. For example, if you fit a door closer with a power size of EN 5 on the push side, in many cases it will deliver EN 4 or a lesser power than its official rating. On heavy, wide doors in particular, you will get more out of a door closer if it is fitted pull side. 

Design aesthetics
Interior designers often love the beauty of un-cluttered, minimalist corridors and so some prefer not to have the door closer fitted to the communal corridor because it is an extra ‘thing’ interfering with the intended aesthetic. Personally, we think this is down to the choice of door closer! Overhead concealed door closers are perfect in this situation, or closers in a range of finishes, from antique brass, bronze through to black, which match other hardware.  But as apartment doors normally open inwards – it is not advisable for fire doors to open into a fire escape route because they can hit people or obstruct egress of people escaping fire – this generally means that pull side closer application is the default position for the door closer in multiple occupancy settings.

Practical considerations
When fitting push-side application, a parallel arm bracket is often used, which drops the fitting position of the closer body further down the door. This can be an issue if a door has glazing at the top, so it is often easier to specify pull side where there are vision panels near the top of the door. Having said this, another practical consideration when installing door closers in renovation projects can be a build-up of wall materials apartment-side, such as the addition of tiles, panelling, plaster and/or wallpaper over the years. When the door is opening inwards against a 90 degree wall, this build-up can leave little room for a surface mount door closer. Sometimes there can be a reveal or low ceiling making it impossible to fit the closer arm on the frame. This can make installation difficult and, in some instances, the closer would need to be fitted push side.

Unfortunately, in some multiple occupancy settings, there is a real risk of mis-use or vandalism of door closer arms if they are located on the communal/push side, so this is another reason to install a closer on the apartment/pull side of the door, where it is less prone to tampering. Tampering with door closers obviously has a very real and direct effect on fire safety, something we have written about before. Some people feel very strongly about installing on the pull side of the door, having seen the potential consequences of stag night pranks where door closers have been tampered with, resulting in the room occupant being stuck in their room – clearly a very dangerous scenario. 

Some building owners prefer push side
Some social housing owners have made it a policy to have push side closers as standard i.e. on the communal side, so that they can be more easily inspected – this became more common after the Grenfell Fire. In her report on behalf of the inquest, fire safety engineering expert, Dr Barbara Lane, observed that an inspection of the tower block three days after the tragedy, found that a significant number of door closers had been disconnected on apartment entrance doors. Indeed, only a few operational door closers were found on levels 4-23 in the tower. After this, many made a decision to start fitting push side in communal areas for the purpose of checking with a clipboard that closer arms were still connected.  Any in housing management would know that scheduling inspections of door closers on the inside of residents’ apartments can be logistically difficult. 
However, we all know that to check a fire door fully, you need access to the other side to ensure that it performs adequately. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts. Residents will be encouraged to allow this inspection in the interest of communal fire safety,and where this doesn’t happen, the responsible person must record efforts made to do so. Hopefully, residents and building owners will be able to work together to make ‘communal side only’ clipboard inspections a thing of the past.

To sum up
Essentially, every building and situation is different and it’s down to a competent person to decide what is in the best interest of overall fire safety. Thankfully, almost all of Rutland’s door closers can be fitted on either side, giving the customer flexibility where required. If you are unsure, we are always happy to advise on individual cases – a simple photograph and a conversation with one of our experts can normally settle the matter very quickly.

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