Commercial door hardware comes in so many different designs and brands that knowing that you’re going to get what you want can be difficult. However, there is a way to sort through all of the different nomenclature from the many different brands available. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Builders’ Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) standards have helped with unifying the functionality and design aspects of hardware. Hinges, closers, locksets, and exit devices are all tested and certified to meet these standards.

ANSI/BHMA Door Hardware Standards

Door hardware is tested with various methods to ensure it will meet certain grades of quality and design and that it functions as expected when installed per the manufacturer’s published information.


Hardware Grades

The test that is looked at most for how hardware will perform is the cycle test. For example, hardware such as cylindrical locksets are put through rigorous testing in attempt to simulate real world application. One cycle includes turning the lever to retract the latch, opening the door, releasing the lever and letting the door close allowing the lock to come in contact with the strike and relatch.

If the lock does not fail after a certain number of cycles then it will be certified with a grade. Most hardware is available in 3 grades of performance where grade 1 is the top performing hardware. A cylindrical lockset that is grade 1 will have successful performed 800,000 cycles, grade 2 will have lasted 400,000 cycles, and grade 3 will last 200,000 cycles. Most commercial hardware will be either grade 1 or grade 2, depending on the application and expected usage. Grade 3 is generally used on residential projects.

The benefit of having this standard testing done is to ensure that end users receive hardware that performs as expected. Manufacturers have their products tested for these certifications and document that it has been done. Many manufacturers also have their hardware tested independently and often their products exceed these baseline standards of quality. This can mean that two separate manufacturers with a grade 1 lock are not necessarily equal, but they have both met a minimum standard of performance.

Standard Functions

ANSI/BHMA standards are set in place for typical hardware functions used in commercial buildings. For example, locksets have various functions for the many applications in a

building. A single building can have offices, storage rooms, bathrooms, data rooms, and other public or secure spaces. Because differing levels of accessibility are required at each room, many different lockset functions are used to achieve the optimum level of security.

ANSI/BHMA lock functions are specified with the letter “F” followed by a function number, such as “F75” which is a passage function.

The standard ANSI/BHMA functions help building owners specify how they want a door to operate. Some brands will also have functions beyond the standard options so that a custom solution can be provided if needed. Learn more about standard locking functions. Closers and exit devices also have basic functionality standards that meet the needs of most applications.

Standard Finishes

Another standard that is very important for commercial door hardware is the ANSI/BHMA finish numbering system. Back when hardware finishes were not standardized, a simple description of what the finish looked like was used. This became problematic because so many finishes were created by hardware manufacturers and they weren’t all created with the same quality.

626 is an example of the three-digit finish numbering system and it refers to a Satin Chrome finish applied to a Brass/Bronze base material.

In an effort to fix this overwhelming abundance of finishes and the variance in quality, the ANSI/BHMA numbering system combined two important parts of each finish. ANSI/BHMA finish codes are three-digit numbers that signify the finish description as well as the base material that the finish is applied to. This helps ensure you get a standard finish appearance and the appropriate base material for quality performance. Learn more about hardware finishes.

Download this finish chart for reference.