Can Exit Doors Be Locked: Ins and Out Of An Exit Door

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Door Vigilant

Exit doors are an important part of any building. They provide a quick, easy escape route in the event of an emergency. However, there is often a need to secure the exit doors against unauthorized access. So, can exit doors be locked? Let’s take a look at the different types of exit doors, how they can be locked, and alternative solutions for securing them.

Is It Important To Having An Exit Door?

Yes, It is really necessary to have an exit door in every house or commercial place. The purpose of exit doors is to provide a safe and compliant means for occupants to evacuate from a building in an emergency situation. They are designed to be easily identifiable and operable by all occupants, regardless of physical ability or disability.

The importance of these doors extends beyond the building itself, as they can help minimize the risk of injury or death during an emergency evacuation.

What Are The Exit Door’s Legal Requirements?

Exit doors are subject to legal requirements that must be met in order for a building to pass building inspections and be deemed safe for occupancy. This includes requirements as directed by local fire codes, safety regulations, and other regulations related to emergency egress.

In residential buildings, all exterior doors must open outward and have a minimum width of 34 inches when opened at least 90 degrees. Some jurisdictions also require that all windows adjacent to the door should have a minimum width of 24 inches when opened at least 45 degrees.

Additionally, any locks on residential exit doors must release from the inside without special knowledge or tools.

In commercial buildings, exit doors must be prominently marked with signage indicating them as “Exit” or “Fire Exit”. The doors should open inward or outward depending on their location within the building’s configuration, but must open outwards if located near a public or shared space such as a hallway or stairwell.

Commercial exits must also meet specific criteria regarding construction materials, locking mechanisms, and frame clearances from ground level.

What Requirements Are There For Exit Doors In The Building Code?

Beyond legal requirements, most municipalities have additional exit door code requirements related to fire safety that must be adhered to in order for buildings to pass inspection.

These include –

  1. An emergency evacuation plan detailing how occupants should exit during an emergency situation.
  2. Signage posted near exits indicating the nearest emergency assembly points outside the building after evacuating.
  3. In some cases, these plans may also include redundant exits that lead out of the same space in case one route becomes blocked (e.g., due to smoke).
  4. Additionally, some jurisdictions mandate that all buildings have automatic sprinkler systems installed near exits in order to facilitate efficient evacuation during fires.
  5. For commercial buildings with more than two stories in height, code may require additional exterior exits along with secondary stairwells leading directly outside the structure – separate from interior corridors – in order to reduce congestion while exiting in an emergency situation.

Different Types of Exit Doors

Exit doors come in many shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose—to provide a safe way to get out of a building in case of an emergency. Some common types include fire exits, panic bars, and egress windows.

Fire exits are designed to allow people to quickly evacuate while preventing smoke from entering.

Panic bars have push bars on them that allow people to open them without using their hands.

Egress windows provide a secondary means of escape if another route is blocked by fire or smoke.

egress window

Besides the above, we may classify exit doors into single and double-door exits, and emergency exit doors.

Single-Door Exits

Single-door exits are the most common type of exit door found in residential and commercial buildings. They consist of a single door that swings open or is pushable, allowing people to quickly and easily leave a building when needed.

Single-door exits typically feature locks that can be engaged from the inside, so individuals can exit without having to unlock the door from the outside first. They may also have panic hardware installed for additional security measures in case of emergency.

Single-door exits are generally less expensive than other types of exit doors and require less maintenance since they only have one opening point.

However, they are not as secure as double-door exits since there is only one entry point, which can allow intruders to gain easy access into a building if not properly secured.

Additionally, they do not provide much insulation or soundproofing if any at all.

Double-Door Exits

Double-door exits consist of two doors that swing outwards and meet in the center when closed, creating an airtight seal between them that provides insulation and soundproofing benefits. The two doors can be locked together with heavy-duty locking mechanisms for added security purposes, preventing unauthorized access into rooms or areas behind these doors.

Additionally, double-door exits usually feature emergency breakaway devices on one side that allow people to quickly escape from dangerous situations without unlocking both sides of the doors first.

double-door exit

The main benefit of double-door exits is their increased security measures due to the presence of two separate locking mechanisms and reinforced construction materials used in their assembly. This makes it more difficult for intruders to gain entry into buildings than single-door exits.

On the downside, however, double-door exits tend to be more expensive than single doors due to their higher quality components and heavier-weight construction materials needed for assembly. They can also require more frequent maintenance in order for them to continue operating properly over time.

Emergency Exit Doors

Emergency exit doors are designed specifically for evacuation purposes during emergencies such as fires or natural disasters where people need a means of exiting quickly yet safely from a building. These types of doors usually swing outward with no locking mechanism present so people can easily escape during emergency situations without having to take extra time to unlock door hardware first.

Emergency exit doors may also come with sign labels indicating instructions on how they should be used during a fire or natural disaster scenarios.

The main advantage of emergency exit doors is that they provide quick and easy access out of buildings during times when lives may depend on it; while still providing decent levels of security against unwanted intrusion from outsiders since many models come equipped with special panic bars or automated lock systems activated by sensors in case an intruder attempts entry through these doors instead.

The main disadvantage however is that these specialized types of doorways cost much more than regular single or double doorway options due to their advanced features and construction materials used in assembling them; making them less preferable economically speaking unless absolutely necessary for safety reasons within certain commercial buildings or public spaces where frequent evacuations are expected during times when immediate safety threats exist such as fires or earthquakes, etc.

What Are The Various Exit Door Locking Options Available?

When it comes to locking exit doors, there are several different options available depending on your specific needs.

Keyed locks are one option that provides higher levels of security but requires additional maintenance and monitoring for key management purposes.

Push bars are another option that allows occupants to open the door without needing a key but do not necessarily provide added security against break-ins by unauthorized personnel.

Automatic locking systems offer yet another option that locks the door automatically when it closes, providing convenience as well as increased security against intruders or unauthorized personnel entering the premises after hours.

Is It Necessary To Lock The Exit Door?

In some cases, it may be necessary to lock exit doors for security purposes or other reasons such as preventing theft or vandalism. There are several ways to do this depending on what type of door you have installed. For instance, you could install deadbolts or use locks with keyless entry systems on fire exits or panic bars with mechanical locks on them for egress windows.

Locking exit doors is a common security measure for businesses, schools, and other organizations. It is important to consider the pros and cons of locking exit doors before making such a decision.

1. Benefits Of Exit Door Locking

  • The primary benefit of locking exit doors is that they can provide an extra layer of security against intruders or other potential threats.
  • Locking exit doors can also help protect people and property in an emergency situation by restricting access and providing additional time for evacuation or other action.
  • It can also be used to deter theft or vandalism in areas with high-value items.

2. Disadvantages Of Exit Door Locking

  • Locking exit doors have several potential drawbacks as well. If not properly maintained or monitored, locked exits may block the path of escape during an emergency situation, preventing people from getting to safety quickly.
  • Additionally, if too many exits are locked at once, it may impede the flow of traffic within the building and lead to confusion among occupants about where to go in case of an emergency.
  • Finally, depending on where you live there may be laws prohibiting the locking of certain types of exterior exits due to fire safety regulations.

3. Legal Requirements Of Exit Door Locking

Besides the above pros and cons, it is important to check with local authorities in your area regarding any laws related to locking exits. In some areas, it may be illegal or require special permits or licenses to block certain types of exits due to fire safety regulations.

For example, while most states allow exiting through windows if all other exits are blocked off during a fire emergency, some states actually have laws prohibiting window locks on certain types of buildings such as apartments or dormitories.

Violating these laws can result in hefty fines for businesses or organizations found guilty so it’s important to thoroughly research any applicable laws before deciding whether or not you should lock your exits.

4. Summary

Overall, exit door locks can provide an added layer of protection against intruders or unauthorized personnel entering after hours. However, it is important for businesses and organizations considering this type of security measure to consider all their options carefully, investigate local laws, and ensure proper maintenance and monitoring procedures are followed in order to stay compliant with fire safety regulations.

What Alternatives To Locking Exit Doors Are There?

If locking your exit door is not feasible due to safety concerns or building regulations, there are other options available such as installing motion sensors, surveillance cameras, or alarm systems.

1. Surveillance Cameras

Installing surveillance cameras is one of the most effective alternatives to locking exit doors. By installing cameras in key positions, it is possible to monitor the status of an exit door without compromising safety. These cameras can be used to detect unauthorized entry, alert security personnel about potential intruders, and prevent people from leaving without permission. Furthermore, surveillance cameras can also be used for facial recognition and other forms of identification if necessary.

2. Motion Sensors

Another alternative is utilizing motion sensors. By installing these sensors near an exit door, it is possible to detect any movements that might indicate a person is trying to leave or enter without authorization. This can provide a layer of security while still allowing unrestricted access in emergency situations. Motion sensors are especially useful in areas where people must pass through several doors before reaching the final destination.

3. Alarm System

Finally, alarm systems are another option for securing exit doors. By connecting alarms to motion sensors or electronic locks, it is possible to alert security personnel or other authorized individuals when an unauthorized person attempts to gain access through the exit door. Alarm systems allow for quick response times as well as provide additional insights into who was at the entry point and what they were doing at the time of intrusion.

All of these alternatives provide an added layer of security without compromising safety in emergency situations.

Surveillance cameras allow for quick detection and identification of potential intruders, motion sensors detect unauthorized movement around the door, and alarms give security personnel quick notification if someone tries to gain access through the exits without authorization.

Together, these alternatives ensure that important exits are protected from outside threats while still allowing easy and safe passage during emergency situations.


Exit doors play an important role in providing quick access out of buildings during emergencies while also helping prevent unauthorized entry into the premises. While it is generally not recommended that these doors be locked due to safety concerns, there are alternatives such as motion sensors and video cameras that can help increase security without compromising safety protocols in place for quick evacuation during emergencies.

Ultimately the decision whether or not exit doors can be locked is based on individual needs and regulations dictated by local laws or building codes.

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