How to install a commercial door
To install a commercial door, the work has to be done in several phases and commercial door projects often take longer. The same steps for how to install a door plumb, level and square apply to both, but commercial projects tend to require more doors and individual components. Commercial doors also tend to require change orders, which is why organization and preparation are so important.
The single most important aspect of how to install a door in commercial installations is to have the most up-to-date blueprint, including the door and hardware schedule. You can lose thousands of dollars from your profit margin trying to locate the proper hardware for the proper doors or moving doors or hardware that have been installed according to outdated drawings and schedules. Maintaining an open communication channel with the project manager, field superintendent and the supplier will help minimize this.
With most commercial door installations, the general contractor or a specialized door frame company installs the door frames. The frames are often steel or some other type of metal, and working with them requires a special skills. Check all the frames before you begin installation to ensure they are correctly squared. If any of them need repair, coordinate that through the general contractor.
Staging the work area
Begin by making sure the area where your team will be working is clean and safe. Since you’ll likely be using door jacks, tool carts and door dollies to move heavy doors, it’s very important that the floor is safe – clean, dry and free of any materials that can cause an accident. Make sure everyone on the installation team has the appropriate personal protection equipment and take this time to remind them of any dangers and answer any questions.
Using an up-to-date door and hardware schedule, organize the doors along with their appropriate hardware and figure out where they will be installed in preparation for moving them. Have your team carefully load the doors onto the door dolly, place the appropriate hardware and tools in the tool cart and transport them to the proper installation location.
How to install a commercial door
Once everything is organized, double-checked and moved to the installation location, installation can begin. First, install the hinges on the doors while they are on the dollies, and then have your team lift the doors into place. Usually, two or three team members can handle lifting, using proper equipment (gloves, lifting belts) and technique (lift with the legs, not the back). With the heaviest doors, a forklift may be necessary. It’s critical that you determine early if a forklift will be necessary so that you can include the expense in the initial contract.
With the door in place, line up the hinges with their correct locations on the frame and start inserting the screws. Don’t place all the screws at this time – only insert and tighten two per hinge (with particularly heavy doors that have hinges requiring six or more screws, you may want to place half of them at this time). Now you can make sure the door will open and close properly or if it needs to be trimmed.
If trimming is necessary, mark the door lightly with a pencil while it’s in place. Then remove it and move it to a work area where cutting/trimming is allowed (many commercial sites have designated areas for such tasks). We prefer to use a cordless circular saw with the appropriate blade for the door material. The most important thing is not to trim too much off the door so that it becomes unusable. Trim a little at a time and keep checking the fit until it’s right.
Use masking tape along the cutline to keep wood doors from chipping along the kerf. Protect the doors with foam or other soft materials when placing them on a work station to prevent marring the surface. You can often reuse foam strips or other packaging materials for this purpose.
Hung, but not done
Once the door is properly trimmed, you can hang it in place using all the screws in each hinge. Now make sure the strike, lockset and latch line up correctly. If the door doesn’t line up properly, document it and notify the jobsite superintendent.
Once the door has been trimmed and lined up, all screws have been inserted into the hinges and proper operation has been confirmed, install the corresponding hardware.
–By Jose Luis Soto, president, JLS Doors & Hardware in Dallas, Texas