Introducing IPVM's Test Door

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 06, 2013

Over the next few months, we will release videos teaching and testing access control. The physical foundation of this is a new custom built door. In this note, we explain the specification of our door, how it is built, and why those details are important for subsequent tests.

Member Feedback

Members provided feedback on what they wanted in a test door. One aspect was very clearly: do not base test findings on 'approximate' doors with non-standard dimensions and construction, but rather seek out a 'cut down' real door that mounts in a real frame, with standard cutouts, hardware preparations, and real alignments.

In the sections that follow, we breakdown the details of our test door with short videos. The image below provides an overview of the door and the attributes we discuss:

Test Door Overview

We chose this model based on a number of factors, including:

  • Real World Specifications: A cut down door grants the ability to test EAC components constrained by realistic dimensions.
  • Common Type: A hollow core steel door is the same type used throughout modern buildings.
  • Rough Dimensions: Our test door measures 2'X3'X1.75"; this standard thickness is key in hardware interface with frames.
  • Rigid: Unlike a wood door, our steel door is ideal for mounting a range of EAC components according to manufacturer's specifcations without damaging the mounting surfaces.

Catch the video below for a short overview of our test door:

Door Leaf Detail

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Key points about the door leaf itself:

  • Hollow core, but not Hollow: Like every steel door, our hollow core door is made up of sheets of steel welded together, but the middle contains stiffeners and insulation. This can complicate running cables inside the door.
  • Mortise Door Prep: Our door is fabricated to accept standard mortise locksets. This allows us to test 'standalone' access hardware and otherwise test with hardware with the most demanding alignment specifications.
  • 18 GA Steel: Our door is built with ~0.05" thick skin. 18 gauge steel is fairly thick compared to budget doors constructed using 24 or 26 gauge material. The most strict specifications call for 18 gauge thickness, and our door provides a good platform to estimate the labor required to install or mount hardware to a very secure opening.
  • Righthand Reverse Swing: The direction a door opens - or 'swing' is a key feature when specifying hardware. Our door has a 'right hand reverse' swing, one of the common orientations.

We discuss these high points in the video below:

Frame Detail

Key elements of the frame include:

  • Frame Profile: While the shape of frames vary in the field, typically based on the style of wall they are mounted into, our test door uses a "Double Rabbet" profile used in most types of stud and masonry construction.
  • Factory Welded: There are two basic types of frames: Factory welded, or Knockdown. Those type of frames come to job sites in three or more pieces and are mechanically assembled into openings. Our 'Factory Welded' frame is fabricated at the factory and shipped to the job in one piece, and usually is installed before or during the time the wall is built.
  • Strike Box/Hinge Mortar Shields: Our door is built with these feature, added to protect components hung on the door from seeping mortar. These features can simplify or complicate cabling access components.

The video below captures details of a seldom covered element: the steel door frame.

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