There are countless details, big and small, to consider when you’re opening a new business storefront. Naturally, a lot of thought goes into the appearance of your storefront doors and windows because they’re the literal face of your business – it’s the first impression you make on any passersby. As a business owner, you know that opening a new location is a scramble of following all the right codes and collecting all the right permits. You don’t want to end up building something you have to take apart, or worse, open your store only to realize there are some important regulations you missed. Your storefront doors have explicit and strict accessibility regulations you need to be considering.
Something you absolutely cannot forget about during your design and construction process is the specs of your entry doors. It’s easy to get caught up in a design aesthetic and forget that you need to follow real guidelines on the size, design, and even the commercial door hardware you use at your main entry in order to ensure everyone has the ability to safely get in and out of your business. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the necessary guidelines for the design and construction of accessible buildings. This includes your commercial entrances, ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to your business.
The Gist of the ADA’s Rules for Entry Doors
The ADA has a guide for small business owners that any business owner really should study in detail. In this guide, they have a section specifically for entry doors to businesses. Some of the most important rules that definitely need to be integrated into your design in a way that is as accessible as it is attractive are:
- Firstly, if you have more than one entry doorway, only one has to follow the ADA guidelines. But you do have to provide signage so people can easily discern which of your exterior doors are wheelchair accessible.
- “Where one or two steps exist at an entrance, access can be achieved in a variety of ways — for example, by using an alternate accessible entrance, adding a short ramp, modifying the area in front or to the side of the entrance to eliminate a step, or installing a lift.” (ADA Small Business Guidelines)
- Ramps leading up to your ADA entrance doors should be designed with as shallow a grade as possible, but definitely no more than 1:12.
- You must provide a rail if the slope is greater than 1:20 and the vertical extent of the ramp is over 6”.
- If there’s any kind of drop-off on your ramp (when the two surfaces don’t meet evenly), you have to add raised edges or railing. If considered early in your design, these can really look unintrusive in your exterior entrance’s design.
- Landings should be able to accommodate a wheelchair turning to get in and out of the door(s) Clear floor space requirements state that at least 30 by 48 inches need to be provided on both sides of the entry door for wheelchair users to approach and get through commercial doors.
This list is not comprehensive; but the other big part you need to consider is the doorway itself. There are regulations for width, clearance inside and out, and how obstructive the transition strip is. It should be hardy and grippy enough to handle lots of wheelchair traffic, but not high enough to hamper wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or other people who walk differently.
A Business’ Street Entry Doors Should Offer Accessibility for Everyone
It’s really important that you study the ADA’s Guidelines for Small Businesses thoroughly before your commercial door install so you can be sure your storefront meets the necessary codes. The fact that you integrated the codes into your initial design and they weren’t an afterthought or a retrofit will let everyone who sees your business storefront know that you want everyone to have equal chance to experience your business. A high-quality design and installation for your storefront’s primary entrance will always leave clients with a positive first impression.
SACS DOOR & GATE CORP has the knowledge and expertise you need for your next commercial door install. We guarantee our exterior door install will be up to code, accessible and beautiful so that your storefront lends as great of a first impression as possible!