There are so many things to think about when choosing new doors for the face of your business. Appearance is one of the big ones, for obvious reasons: your storefront doors and windows are your first impression to potential customers. You’ve got insulation, structure, size and security to think about, but you also have laws and building codes to comply with.

One set of federal regulations for commercial businesses are ADA standards and regulations. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, and represents legislated protection for the rights of differently-abled individuals to have equal opportunities in society. This meant sweeping reforms in how people conducted business as well as how people built businesses.

Planning your new storefront door install with ADA regs in mind is absolutely key to the legal functioning of your business, but it can also help you narrow down your choices for a new storefront system. There are standards you need to adhere to (or surpass) for nearly every aspect of your business’ entryway.

Compliant Commercial Door Materials

The bottom 10 inches of your entry doors has to be a completely smooth surface so that walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc. have no chance of becoming stuck on anything. Kick plates are considered additional commercial door hardware, but don’t cut it as far as truly complying. One type of storefront system that is exempt from this rule are sliding double glass entry doors.

Storefront Door Movement & Operation

Differently-abled people may enter and exit doorways differently, and/or need different clearance to do so. Thresholds on new storefront door installs must be ½ and inch tall or less. For an existing front door retrofit, they can be up to ¾ an inch. Any taller and you have to install slopes to accommodate for the height difference. Commercial entry doors also need a minimum of 18 inches of clearance – that means level, open space – on all sides of the doorway.

Required Width for Commercial Entry Doors

Much like the clearance you need for maneuverability, there are also width requirements for storefront door systems. A minimum of 60% of entry doors at your business need to be ADA-accessible. These doors have to be 32 to 48 inches wide to accommodate things like scooters, wheelchairs, service animals in tow, etc. And that width refers to when the door is open. Hmmm… it’s starting to seem like sliding commercial glass entry doors account for all these factors, doesn’t it?

Considering Customers: Push Force & Closing Speed

Yet another feature of sliding double doors that’s already ADA-compliant is customer operation. Automatic sliding doors are wide, don’t swing, and require no effort to open or close. For swinging business doors, push force cannot exceed 8 ½ pounds. Here in sunny CA, it’s reduced to 5 pounds. As far as closing speed, commercial doors with hydraulic arms have to take at least 7 seconds to close.

ADA-Conscious Commercial Door Hardware

The last set of details to consider in your ADA-accessible storefront entryway is the commercial door hardware. All door hardware has to be easy to use with one hand and can require no more than 5 pounds of force to use. Round doorknobs are a no. All operable commercial door hardware, like levers, pulls and knobs, have to have a profile of less than 4 inches, and can only be placed between 34 and 48 inches from the floor.

See? A lot to consider besides style and security when it comes to your business’ entryway. And while aluminum and glass sliding storefront doors aren’t right for every business, they do take the guesswork out of complying with ADA regulations. Plus they look great. Just saying.