Fire Rated Wood Doors – Everything You Need To Know

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There has been many innovations in the world of “Fire Rated Wood Doors.” We reached out Jacob Kluger, founder & innovator at Grandoor, to learn more about this exciting industry.

Enter Jacob of Grandoor:

Wood and laminate doors are often used by leading architects and designers to help transform the interior design of a room from BLAND to GRAND.   Whether the look of a contemporary flush wood with quarter sawn veneer, or a painted 2 panel door, doors have a transformative effort. Inevitably somewhere on a project, you will likely run into a FIRE RATED door requirement which can be intimidating.   

Good news -there are plenty of options available making it easy to seamlessly include a fire rated version to match the rest of the doors.  No need to revert to a hollow metal door.    

Here’s a short list of items to keep in mind with fire rated wood doors.

1. What makes a door fire rated?

Answer – Aside from the construction to make it fire resistant, the door has been independently tested by a certified testing agency.  Each fire rated door must come with a fire label (attached on the hinge edge of the door), and note what fire rating it meets.   (20 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute, 60 minute, 90 minute).

2. What are my design option with Fire rated wood doors?

Answer – More than you’d imagine, and from a visual perspective, fire rated wood doors will look EXACTLY the same as a regular door!    Options include a full array of Flush Doors (typically used in office, retail, medical, school, and other commercial oriented projects) which have a mineral composite core, agrifiber core or similar depending on the fire rating.  

Fire rated wood doors and frames can look exactly like regular doors.

Stile and Rail or Paneled Doors (typically found in multifamily, senior living, hospitality, historic renovation, and other specialty projects) are comparatively more expensive since they will be using a more expensive fire core.

3. Which fire rating do I need for my wood doors?

Answer – Doors are usually rated to three-quarters (3/4) of what the wall fire rating is.   So a 2 hour wall will require a 90 minute fire rated door.   Exceptions occur, so review your local codes.

4. What is Positive Pressure and Neutral Pressure?

Answer – Positive pressure more accurately reflects real world conditions in the fire testing process.   Most current code requirements and architectural plans require positive pressure, so it is best to ensure the doors are listed as Positive Pressure tested.

5. Who certifies the doors?

Answer – Various testing labs with experience in fire testing doors.   The majority of doors will be certified by UL (Underwriters Laboratorties), Intertek/Warnock Hersey, and QAI.   Regardless of the listing agency, doors should be tested and be labeled as UL 10B, UL 10C & NFPA 252.  

6. Who has ultimate say?

Answer – The local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) make the ultimate call on what is allowed.    

7. Do I need special hardware for wood fire rated doors?

Answer – All fire rated doors (wood or metal) need to be self-closing and self-latching.   If you are using a surface mounted overhead closer, make sure the door has additional blocking to handle the screws.   All hardware should also be independently fire rated.

8. What is Category B and Category A Doors?

Example of fire rated wood door frame (Credit: Grandoor Frames).   Composite fire rated material is used under the wood to maintain fire resistance during a fire.

Answer –  During a fire, expandable seals control the spread of  fire/smoke within the gap between door and frame.   Category A doors refer to the seals being built into the edge of the door which expands into the gap during a fire.    Category B refers to the gasket being applied to the door frame and expanding to the door.     Category B doors are extremely common and are a cost savings.

9. What sizes can I do in fire rated doors?

Answer – Varies by door manufacturer.   Expect to be able to do 8’0 & 9’0 in height and 4’0 (single) & 7’0 (double) in width.   Larger sizes are available.   Most fire rated doors are 1-3/4” thick.

10. Can I have wood door FRAMES to match my wood door?

 Fire rated wood doors and frames can look exactly like regular doors.

Answer – Absolutely.  Companies like Grandoor Frames are focused exclusively on manufacturing fire rated wood frames that are affordable and customizable.  

11. Can I include glass?

Answer – Each door manufacturer has tested and approved their own glass size. Expect to see most manufacturers be able to do up to 100 sq inches (10” x 10” or 5” x 25”), but more companies have tested larger sizes in wood doors.

12. Can the hardware preps be done in the field?

Answer Hardware preps need to be completed by the manufacturer or an authorized machiner of the doors.    This is to ensure that all hardware preps meet the testing protocals.   One exception is up to a ¾” undercut on the door.     

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