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  • Writer's pictureRyan Shoop

Grade Series (Part 3)

Updated: May 6, 2022

Continuing the discussion on door hardware grade from the previous posts.

(Grade Series Part 1)

(Grade Series Part 2)

The rubber meets the road.

The hardware on the door: what difference does grade make?

Q: Does all hardware need to have a grade?

A: No. The model building codes used in most parts of the US do not have any requirements for door hardware to meet a particular grade. When a manufacturer indicates that a product is a specific grade, they are representing that this product line has passed the required grade testing. This should give a level of assurance to specifiers, contractors, and owners that they can reasonably expect a certain durability level from a product. So there is not a "requirement" for grade that comes from the building code, but instead the choice between cost and durability is left to the design team and building owner. Also, not all products that CAN be tested for grade HAVE been. Un-graded hardware items can usually be expected to fall at the lower end of the durability scale.

Q: Do grade 3 or un-graded products look cheaper than grade 1 or 2?

A: Sometimes, but not always. Keep in mind that grade is only a measure of the mechanical durability of a hardware product. Grade has nothing to do with finish. Grade also does not take into consideration the aesthetic design features of the product (lever style/shape, for example). There are products on the market that are grade 3 or un-graded that look quite nice! These may be good selections for doors where the hardware is publicly visible but are only opened on rare occasions, or in residential settings where the owner wants a specific look and isn’t overly concerned with durability. It is important, however to not let appearances deceive the specifier or owner. Although there may be good appropriate uses for that beautiful ungraded lever, it is important to remember that since it hasn't been tested to grade 1, it almost certainly won't last as many cycles. Ideally the building owner’s expectations should take this into account.

Q: A slightly different question, do grade 3 or un-graded products "feel" cheaper when you use them?

A: This is difficult to quantify and somewhat subjective, but the answer tends toward "yes". The lower the grade, the lower the product sits on the durability scale. In general, to build hardware more durably means to use some combination of the following:

- make it heavier

- machine the parts more precisely

- use higher quality materials in the concealed components

These decisions tend to affect the "feel" of a product when you use it. If a lever feels heavy and glides smoothly when you turn it, this yields a better impression of quality than a lever that feels lightweight and that "jiggles" in its fitting.

This is the third entry in a multi-part series on door hardware grade. Check back again for the fourth and final entry in the Grade Series.

Don't be afraid to ask questions either in the comments section or by contacting me directly. Also if you think I got something wrong, let me know and if appropriate I will make sure to issue a correction.

Architects, do you have a project with door hardware questions? Check out my website There you can find my contact info, and reach out to set up a call. Let's discuss how I can save you time and money while helping to ensure high quality results for your clients.

#grade #grade1 #gradeseries #durability #cycles #longevity #testing #tested #standards #lookandfeel #aesthetics #quality #notsohardware #NSH #doorhardware #architects #architecture

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