Like any other specialized field, the world of commercial doors has its own technical lingo, which may be opaque to those not in the business. But it’s just a bit of jargon – it’s easy to learn. Here are some common terms relating to commercial doors and door hardware:

Active Leaf (Active Door)

In a set of double doors, the active door, or leaf, is the one of the two that is opened first, and that has the locking mechanism. The other door is, as you might expect, called the inactive leaf, and is usually held closed by top and bottom bolts.

These are a common entry door setup for business storefronts with manual swinging glass doors.


The device that anchors the door frame in place in the surrounding wall.

Ball Bearing Hinge

This type of hinge is comprised of a ball end and socket end. It’s a low-friction hinge, making it a good choice for storefront doors that see heavy use.

Continuous Hinge

Also known as a piano hinge, this is a hinge that runs the full length of the door from top to bottom. They are typically made from steel or stainless steel and have a series of knuckles that are connected by a pin. They get their name from their levers looking like a series of piano keys. Frequently used for heavier doors. Another common choice for commercial doors, both storefront and warehouse.


For manual double glass business doors, this is the mechanism that ensures the inactive leaf closes before the active leaf where they overlap slightly in the center.


In a keyed door lock, the part that contains the tumbler mechanism and the keyway into which the key is inserted.


A heavy-duty lock that, instead of being spring-activated, is operated by a key or a turnkey, which slides a metal bolt from inside the door into the jamb. These are a good addition to the inner-facing commercial door hardware on any back entrance security door, as they span the weak side’s door-to-frame gap.

Door Clearance

This is the amount of space between the door and its frame, between the door and the floor, or between the edges of double doors where they meet. Building codes may require different clearance levels for your business’ doors or fire doors.

Door Closer

A mechanism that closes a door automatically, after it has been opened mechanically or manually. See hydraulic or pneumatic for examples of how these systems work.

Door Cutout

This term refers to any holes drilled into a commercial door to install hardware like locks, knobs and deadbolts.

Exit Device

Popularly known as a panic bar, this is a door-locking device that allows quick exit when you push on a cross bar to release the door latch. These are often found at emergency exits and fire doors.

Face (Door, Trim)

The face of a commercial door refers to the surface of the door that you can see when the door is closed. Face can also refer to the trim, or the part of the frame of the storefront door you can see.

Fire Rated Door

This is a door or frame that has been tested for its fire resistance, and assigned a rating for how many minutes it can withstand exposure to fire before it combusts. It may also be rated for how well it resists transmitting heat. These are typically placed at strategic points throughout a building, as well as outer security doors. Fire-rated doors for commercial businesses are compulsory virtually everywhere.

Full Glass Door

This type of business glass entry door is an uninterrupted full glass pane surrounded by a thin, metal frame. They give your business storefront an open feel and let in a lot of natural light.


The hand or handing of a door is the direction in which it swings open – doors are either left- or right-handed. If you’re looking at the door from the outside and the hinges are on the right side, it’s a right-handed door; if they’re on the left, it’s left-handed. Door handing can also be determined by the door swing direction, with an “inswing” door is one that opens into a room or building and “outswing” door is one that opens out of the room or building.


A self closing door system that uses a cylinder to move the door, frequently used for storefront doors to help temperature control. This system will automatically close the door over time. Opening the door activates a pump, sending fluid under pressure into the cylinder, shifting it open. When the pump is deactivated, the fluid flows back out, retracting the cylinder and pulls the door closed.

Inactive Leaf (Inactive Door)

The door, in a set of two manual commercial glass doors, that doesn’t actively lock and is held in place by retractable bolts.

Insulated Glass

Also known as double-pane or triple-pain glass; insulated commercial glass doors are double-paned with gas trapped between the two panes for an insulator effect. The gas contained could be krypton, argon or xenon. This reduces noise and heat transferred through the glass. A common pick for commercial doors to business’ that put work into their sound and ambience.


The door frame to which the door’s hinges are attached, the jamb is what surrounds the door when it’s closed. The jamb depth (aka frame profile) is the width of the door frame if you were looking at it from the side – i.e., its width from the front side of the door to the back.

Jamb depth is close to, but not the same as, wall thickness; when choosing a door frame you should always make clear with the door installer which one you’re talking about.

Key Side

Refers to the side of the door that’s supposed to be outward-facing, used during door installation to ensure the commercial door hardware can mounted on the correct side of the door once it’s hung.

Kick Plate

A metal or Plexiglas plate mounted on the lower part of a commercial swinging door to protect it from damage and scuffing. You’ll often see these on exterior wood doors in public buildings and university halls.

Laminated Glass

A good idea for storefronts that see a lot of extreme weather or accidents, laminated outer glass doors are made to stay in place when breached, instead of shattering.


A vertical post in a door opening, typically between two double glass doors, that secures the doors together when closed and locked. A mullion can be permanent or removable.


A system that uses compressed air to open and close doors without any additional automation. When opened the door creates compressed air against a cylinder, opening the door. When the door closes, the pressure is released letting the door close. It also prevents storefront doors from swinging closed too quickly.

Push Plate

A metal plate on which the commercial door lock and knob are mounted, to reduce door wear-and-tear in that area.

Regular Arm Closer Reinforcement

For commercial doors with hydraulic arm openers, an RACR is mounted on the header to ensure the opener and door stay balanced even in high-traffic situations.

Self-Closing Doors

These doors are fit with commercial door hardware that slowly pulls the door back to its close-and-latched position after it’s been opened. See pneumatic and hydraulic systems above for explanations.


A metal plate mounted into the door frame that allows the latch and/or lock bolt to slip in to engage. In a single door, a strike is mounted in the outer door frame. For double storefront doors, the strike is usually in the mullion.

Tempered Glass

Another type of safety glass (see Laminated Glass) reinforced to be stronger than glass, and to break into very small, rounded pieces instead of sharp shards. This type of glass door is great for businesses who need storefront security doors that still let in light and look inviting.


The gap between the bottom of the door and the frame.

These are only a few of the sometimes arcane terms familiar to commercial door professionals. But don’t think you need to master the lingo to talk to us at SACS DOOR & GATE – we make it our business to understand our customers’ needs even if they don’t speak commercial door. But if you want to learn more, check out this glossary.