Surface-mounted door closers come in many sizes and the covers usually have different shapes, finishes and molded designs. Door closers are normally installed onto the secured side of door for at least two reasons. First, a door with a box and an arm extending from the surface is not aesthetically pleasing. Second, there is usually less likelihood that the door closer will be vandalized when installed onto the secured side.
However, this reason does not seem to be valid in K-12 grade schools as well as some colleges.
There is an advantage that adjacent doors do not have visible surface mounted door closers. They do, however, have visible locks. When you walk down a hallway, a door with a different lock will sometimes standout like a sore thumb. Unless the door closers are mounted on the exterior, no one is going to notice or compare if one is different from another. They will notice if the door has multiple sets of mounting holes with sex bolts.
For this article, we will discuss two scenarios of being called about a no longer operating surface-mount door closer. Each scenario will determine how we proceed with the door closer replacement.
Note: To somewhat simplify the article; we will assume the door closer is no longer under the manufacturer’s warranty. We will also assume the door closer is mounted onto the secured side.
Scenario 1: Hollow Metal Door
For the first scenario, the surface-mount door closer is installed onto a hollow metal door. We examine the edges of the door and jamb and determine there is no fire label. Hollow metal doors for general use are available with 20, 18 and 16 gauge steel faces. To accommodate a surface-mounted door closer, manufacturers can add re-enforcement, usually about 14 gauge steel. The closer reinforcing prevents the door faces from compressing when the unit is mounted.
We see that there are no sex nuts on the door face opposite the installed unit. We remove the door closer and find out that the mounting holes are threaded.
Once the make and model of the door closer is determined, we check to see if it is still in production. For this scenario, the door closer is still available and the replacement price is agreeable to the customer. We’ll replace the door closer with the same manufacturer and model. There is no need to drill any new holes or modify the door or jamb.
Scenario 2: Solid Wood Door
For the second scenario, the door closer is mounted onto a solid wood door. A solid wood door does not have hollow spaces. The door can be manufactured of lumber or engineered having a veneer and frame filling the interior with wood materials like sawdust and chips with adhesives to form a composite material.
The door closer is through bolted using sex nuts. We examine the edges of the door and jamb and determine there is no fire label. The door has been stained, having a natural finish. Unfortunately, the door closer has been discontinued. The finish on the through-bolted door makes it just plain wrong to drill additional holes in order to accommodate a different footprint door closer.
To find a similar surface-mount door closer with the same bolt hole pattern, there are three measurements to determine unless you are able to physically place one closer over another to match the bolt hole openings.
Most surface-mount door closers are mounted using four bolts or screws. The four holes are normally two vertical sets of two. The manufacturer and the shape of the closer body determine the locations of the bolt holes.
To determine the pattern, measure the distance between each of the two centers of the holes horizontally. Then measure the distance between the centers of the holes vertically. The third measurement is the distance from the closest vertical hole and the center of the spindle. This distance will give you some understanding of the location of the spindle for each closer.
When looking for a replacement door closer, try to find one whose hole pattern is the same as the positioning of the through bolts in the door are not really adjustable.