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Architectural Hardware
Can you give me an overview of architectural hardware? We are finding it is an essential element to an overall commercial integration package sale.

A: Locks come in many types, designed to perform different functions and levels of security. Locks used commercially include mortise, cylindrical, and rim.

  • Mortise locks are generally considered the heaviest duty, used in high traffic or heavy applications where greater security is required. A mortise is a hole or pocket in a door. A mortise lock may contain a dead bolt in addition to a dead latch. A separate ‘mortise’ cylinder is used with this type of lock.
  • Cylindrical locks are installed in two intersecting holes in the door; a 2-1/8” face hole and either a 7/8” or 1” diameter hole in the edge for the lock latch. The cylinder is typically contained in the outside knob or lever.
  • Rim locks are surface mounted on a door, with a rim cylinder installed in a hole in the door. A rim cylinder is similar to a mortise cylinder except a mortise cylinder has threads on its body, while the rim cylinder is attached with two screws through the door. Outside key control for exit devices usually use a rim cylinder, and exit devices are frequently rim type.

Lock cylinders may use non-proprietary keys and cylinders or controlled access/high security keys, which are available only from the manufacturer and selected locksmiths. Non proprietary keys and cylinders represent a security threat because the keys can be copied by anyone at any time, and the cylinders tend to be less resistant to picking and physical attack. These two issues were driving forces behind the birth of the keyless lock industry and access control.

Commercial cylindrical and mortise locks are supplied in different functions to suit various security requirements. Popular functions include: Passage (never locked from either side); Privacy (typically no key; used for bathrooms); Entry (key on outside, locked/unlocked by turn piece on inside or with a key, always free egress); Office (similar to Entry function); Classroom (key on outside, always free egress, may be programmed for locked or passage function with the key); and Storeroom (always locked from outside unlocked for entry with key, always free egress).

Locks are available in different Grades, indicating the lock’s durability and resistance to attack. Most commercial applications require either Grade 1 (Best) or Grade 2 (2nd Best). For most locks (mortise locks are an exception), both security and operational aspects are included under a single grade.

Unlike some other hardware, which is available in listed and non-listed versions, most commercial locks are UL fire-listed. Most manufacturers have different latch bolt lengths available and have listed them so they can be used on both fire-rated and non-fire-rated doors.

Different products are listed for different sizes and types of door, depending on such variables as width, height and composition. When used in a fire-rated application, each product should be checked in the UL Building Materials Directory to see what its listing actually covers. Be certain that the function and style of the lock compliment your particular application. For example, a door in a commercial structure which will be fitted with an electric release would probably require a lever to fulfill ADA requirements.

Security Dealer Technical Editor Tim O’Leary is a 30-year veteran of the security industry and a 10-year contributor to the magazine. O’Leary’s background encompasses having been a security consultant since 1986 and an independent security company owner/operator, in addition to his research and evaluation of new technologies and products introduced to the physical and electronic security fields. He is a member of the VBFAA (Virginia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association); certified for Electronic Security Technician and Sales by the VADCJS (Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services); and, has served as a judge for the SIA New Product Showcase. Send your integration questions to