To Swing or Not to Swing?

Leah Riley

Posted by Leah Riley

It is often questioned when a door from a room or space can be sliding or must swing and when it must swing in the direction of egress. Per the Chicago Building Code (CBC) 10(13-160-250), all doors required as exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel. This section requires all doors, except those in residential units serving one dwelling unit only, to swing. This section also allows certain doors to not swing in the direction of exit travel, such as such as those to corridors from rooms having a capacity not exceeding 50 persons and in Business Units, doors to corridors from offices having a capacity not exceeding 100 persons.

Sliding doors are permitted in the path of egress as long as they have a break-away function. Sliding doors are also permitted per a posted Chicago Department of Buildings Interpretation for the following:

1) Within a dwelling unit for the bedroom, bathroom, closet doors or similar uses. The required exit for a dwelling unit can also be of sliding type when the unit entry door is an exterior door or where fire rating is not required for the unit entry door.

2) The primary entrance to a tenant space within a multi-tenant office or mercantile occupancy building that is used as a showroom or for sales, is permitted to be a sliding door when the clear entrance opening is at least 44 inches wide. A note shall be added on plans that are submitted for approval that the "sliding doors shall remain open during occupancy".

3) A sliding door is permitted from a room or space used as an individual office with an occupancy load of 10 persons or less or a maximum of 300 sf. A sliding door can't be used for a Conference Room or Meeting Room.

Any other locations using a sliding doors will most likely not be permitted per the Chicago DOB.


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