How To Order Hollow Metal Doors & Frames

Ordering Hollow Metal Doors & Hollow Frames can seem like a complicated task if you haven’t really dealt with them before. There are a lot of things to take into account. Most people never realize how technical ordering a door can be. One of the most common mistakes people make is related to the door handing. I know you must be thinking how can this be possible? Doors either swing to the left, swing to the right, and push in or pull out. How can this be a common problem? The fact is that the door industry recognizes two types of handing and uses several different terms to describe them. This is a huge issue especially with people who are less experienced in the door industry. The best solution is to always ask your door supplier for their handing diagram and clarify the terminology with everyone involved in the door project. What some people call a left hand door, others may call a right hand door and vice versa. It is very important to be aware of this and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Another common mistake made is selecting the correct frame for the wall condition. Standard Hollow Metal Frames are made in 2 common profiles which are generically labeled as drywall or masonry frames.

Hollow Metal Drywall Frames are also called 3 piece knockdown frames or K.D. Frames. These door frames are intended to wrap a finished interior wall and carry fire ratings up to 90 minutes when used in 90 minute fire rated door and hardware assemblies. Hollow Metal Drywall Frames require rough openings that are about 1-1/2” wider and 3/4” taller than the called door size. When talking about KD Hollow Metal Drywall Frames it is important to point out the difference between the overall frame depth and the throat size. The throat size should be equal to the wall thickness. Because it wraps the wall and extrudes outward by ½” on each side, the overall depth of a hollow metal drywall frame is usually one inch greater than the throat size. The most common sized hollow metal drywall frame depth is 5-7/8.” A 5-7/8” Hollow metal drywall frame has a throat size of 4-7/8” and perfectly fits a standard steel stud wall that used a 3-5/8” steel stud and 5/8” drywall on both sides. Make sure you are not confusing the overall frame depth with the throat size. The throat size should be the same as your wall thickness and the overall size should be one inch greater. Drywall frames are usually referenced by the overall frame depth and not the throat size so be sure to review your order carefully.

Masonry type frames are usually installed in exterior block or poured concrete walls. Almost all masonry type frames require rough openings that are 4” wider and 2” taller than the called door size. There are 3 primary anchor options used for exterior block or poured concrete walls. If you are building a new concrete block wall Masonry T Anchors or Masonry Wire Anchors are usually placed between the layers of block to anchor the door at the time of construction. These frames can be provided as either 3 piece knocked down or welded assembled. In most applications welded door frames are required by code and are also much easier to install. When building a new wall welded assembled door frames are usually your best bet. Most Masonry Frames are Fire Rated up to 3 hours when used in a 3 Hour Fire Rated Door Frame & Hardware Assembly. When ordering a masonry frame of any sort be sure to clearly explain your wall condition and understand how the frame will anchor to the opening.

Existing block or poured walls usually require what is known as punch & dimple, or existing masonry anchors. A punch and dimple anchor for existing masonry walls allow the door frame to be bolted to the wall with masonry dynabolts and reinforces the frame channel to prevent it from being crushed by the torque of the bolts. Optional lag bolts can be used to anchor the frame to a wood or metal stud wall in the same manner. These Hollow Metal Masonry frames are usually fire rated up to 3 hours when used in a 3 hour fire rated door frame & hardware assembly. If you have an existing concrete block or poured wall opening a punch and dimple frame is needed to effectively anchor the frame into the opening.

Sometimes customers ask for Welded Hollow Metal Drywall Frames when they plan to install Door Frames during the wall framing process. When a builder asks for this, the builder is really asking for a Welded Masonry Frame with stud anchors. In this application the installer will fasten the door frame directly to the wall stud and then tuck the drywall underneath the door frame to give it the same look as the knock down frame. Usually these types of frames are used on large scale new construction projects where installation time and durability are a concern. If you need welded frames for a drywall application you should ask your supplier for a masonry type frame with stud anchors. This is not a typing error. If the frame is welded then it is a masonry frame profile even if you are using stud anchors to attach the frame to a drywall opening.

To recap, masonry frames with T-Strap or wire anchors are used for new block or poured walls. Masonry Frames with punch and dimple anchors are used to anchor door frames into existing block or poured walls. Masonry frames with stud anchors are used to attach hollow metal frames to a new drywall or stud wall. KD drywall frames are a different profile meant to wrap the wall and are used in existing drywall openings.

Hollow Metal Doors may include a window that is called a lite kit. The type of glass used in a lite kit depends on the fire and impact rating. Regular clear tempered glass is not fire rated. For both fire & impact rating wired glass is best to use. Ceramic glass is also used from time to time and actually holds the highest fire rating. A ceramic glass lite kit with less than 100 square inches of visible glass surface can hold a fire rating of up to 3 hours when used in a 3 hour fire rated assembly. In addition to lite kits louver inserts are commonly installed in hollow metal doors to provide ventilation. Standard louver inserts are not fire rated. If you need a fire rated door with a louver insert you should be using a Hollow Metal Door with a “Fusible Link Louver” insert.

Here are some things you need to know before ordering a Hollow Metal Door or Hollow Metal Frame:

  • Is the door used for interior or exterior?
  • Is the hollow metal frame being installed in a new or existing opening?
  • How is the wall constructed? Is it a concrete or block or is it a stud & drywall wall?
  • What is the finished thickness of the wall?
  • What size is your rough opening?
  • What is the actual door size?
  • Does the door need to be fire rated? If yes, is it a 20 minute, 45 minute, 60 minute, 90 minute or 3 hour fire rated door?
  • When viewing room outside of the building or room, which way does the door open?
    1. -Left Hand: Hinges on the left, door swings in and to the left.
    2. -Right Hand: Hinges on the right, door swings in and to the right.
    3. -Left Hand Reverse: Hinges on the left, door swings out and to the left.
    4. -Right Hand Reverse: Hinges on the right, door swings out and to the right.
  • What type of lock prep is required?
    1. -161: Standard Cylindrical Lock Prep, 2-3/4” Backset.
    2. -86: 8” Mortise Side Pocket Only, For Mortise Locks
    3. -RPD: Reinforced Panic Device, Blank Lock Prep For Emergency Exit Doors.
  • It is also important to check your local building and fire codes. Fire rated doors must include a smoke seal and be self closing. When ordering a hollow metal door be sure to verify that you have included all the necessary hardware to meet your building code.

Ordering hollow metal doors and frames may seem difficult, but once you get used to the terminology and understand how the frames work they are one of the easiest doors to install and not so hard to order. If you have a big project you will find that most of your hollow metal doors and hollow metal frames will require the same specifications over and over again. USA Fire Door is America’s Hollow Metal Door Expert! If you are looking for help with hollow metal doors & hollow metal frames visit Our staff will be glad to explain all the options and walk you through whatever steps you need help with! Here at USA Fire Door, we deal directly with the public and do not have minimum order requirements or surcharges. We also deliver to all 50 States and parts of Canada. Whether you need one door or one thousand doors, USA Fire Door is America’s Hollow Metal Door & Hollow Metal Frame Expert!

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