Door Closers 101

Door closers are available in two basic types: fixed spring size (power) and adjustable spring size. Spring size determines the power of operation. An adjustable spring size door closer can be used for most closing applications.

Door closers have been around for more than 120 years. The door closer was developed to close a door after someone who opened the door did not close it. I guess some things just don’t change. The basic door closer concept has not changed since the advent of the fluid operated, gear driven door...

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There are two styles of door closers; surface mounted and concealed. Concealed closers are installed either into the header area above the top of the door frame or beneath the door under the threshold. Surface mounted closers are mounted onto the exposed face of the door or frame.
The location decision for door closers is determined by a number of factors including type of door, the frame, aesthetics and location. The major advantage of a concealed closer is that it’s concealed. No portion of the closer can affect access or egress. No easily visible components are subject to vandalism, etc.
Concealed closers operate like surface mounted closers and are equipped with adjustable valves and arm configurations that vary by manufacturer and application. A major difference is access for adjusting, servicing or replacing.
Concealed door closer functionality is affected by the door hinges/pivots that determine the swing of the door; single or dual action. The arms also determine the functionality of the concealed closer. According to their design, concealed closers can be mounted either above or below the door.

Surface mount closers are installed onto the surface of the door with either the closer body or the arm mechanism attached the door or the frame. In this respect, there are five standard methods for installing the standard surface mount door closer. They are:
REGULAR ARM - The door closer is mounted onto door face and the shoe is mounted onto the frame. The shoe arm assembly is mounted perpendicular to the door and frame. This is the only pull-side of the door application for a door closer. The regular arm application is the most power-efficient for a door closer.
On outward opening doors, the closer is mounted on the exterior and the arm assembly may present an aesthetics or vandalism concern. On inward opening doors, the arm assembly may present an aesthetics concern.
PARALLEL ARM- This push side of the door application offers the most appealing design as the closer is mounted onto the door and the arm is mounted onto the underside of the frame. The closer and the arm are almost parallel to the door face. When the door is closed, only the soffit plate projects beyond the frame face. Because of the arm geometry, additional spring strength is required to achieve the same closing characteristics as a regular arm installation.     
Note: Parallel arm application geometry is less efficient than a regular arm application. For large or heavy doors, parallel arm installation may not be the best choice.
TOP JAMB- This push side of the door application locates the closer onto the face of the frame and the shoe is mounted onto the door. For this installation, there must be sufficient clearance for the body of the closer. Most closer manufacturers offer mounting plate options to resolve clearance issues.
When the door is closed, the top jamb mounted door closer and arm assembly project from the frame. This may present an aesthetics concern.
Note: The top jamb application provides the best alternative to the regular arm application.
SLIDE TRACK -This type of door closer installation permits the closer to be mounted on the push or pull side of the door. The slide track is normally mounted to frame face on the side the closer has been installed.
CORNER BRACKET - This type of pot door closer installation is for the unique circumstance when the traditional door closer cannot be mounted to push side of the door. A special corner bracket is mounted at the upper corner of the push side of the frame. The door closer is mounted to this bracket and the double lever arm is attached to the door.
In addition to how the closer is mounted onto the door, there are a number of options for the type of arm assembly that should be used. There are double lever arm assemblies and track assemblies (single arm). The double lever arm assemblies are regular arm, hold-open, cushion stop and heavy duty.
Note: Never use the closer arm to stop the door from its full swing. Always install a door stop.
The hold-open arm is used to keep the door open temporarily. Cushion stops in hold-open arms have a variety of different manufacturer’s names and soften the opening swing in order to prevent damage to the closer. The heavy duty arm is designed for high traffic openings. 
The track or single arm assemblies normally have a hold-open function built into the track. For surface mounted closers, there can be the regular arm or the swing free arm which permits the door to be opened beyond the standard confines.
Note: Some door closer manufacturers package specific closers models with all of the necessary hardware for mounting the closer in the three traditional mounting styles; Regular Arm, Parallel Arm or Top Jamb.      

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