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Can Teachers Decorate Classroom Doors?

Back to school season is here! All across the country, parents, students, and teachers are prepping for the start of the new school year. There is a lot to do for teachers prior to the first day: planning curriculum, creating seating charts, and decorating classrooms. When it comes to decorating a classroom or office, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to doors.

There are two common classifications for doors: fire rated or non-fire rated. A fire rated door includes a door and frame (assembly) constructed to slow down or prevent flames, smoke, and toxic gases from spreading during a fire. If a door assembly is fire rated, there will be a label on both the door and frame to certify that the opening was designed and tested to remain closed and intact during a fire, so it can prevent the spreading of the flames, smoke, and toxic gas. The fire label itself includes the fire rating, which is a specific time frame, such as 90 minutes. The time frame listed is the minimum amount of time the complete assembly is certified to withstand a fire. To tell if the door and frame opening is fire rated or not, look along the hinge edge or the top of the door and frame to see if there is a fire label on them.

Decorating Non-Fire Rated Doors

If the door is non-fire rated, then the side facing the classroom cannot be decorated to the point that a user would not be able to easily identify the door as the way out of the room. This is because the classroom side of the door is the “egress” side, and per code, egress doors need to be readily distinguishable. When decorating the egress side (classroom side) of the door, be sure to decorate it in a way that does not hide the door or interfere with the operation of the hardware such as hinges, locks, and exit devices. Also, if the classroom side is the push side of the door (the door pushes towards the corridor), make sure three dimensional decorations are not mounted within the bottom 10” of the door and that these same decorations do not interfere with the required 32” clear opening width as defined by the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If there are exit signs, it is also important they are never covered and can be easily seen. If the door has a lite (window) in it or the door frame includes a sidelite (window) decorations can be placed on it, using adhesives.

The outside (usually the corridor side) of the door, is known as the “access” side. This side can be fully decorated, as a long as hardware, such as the handles, locksets, and hinges, remains operable. When decorating the access side of the door, be careful when using three-dimensional decorations. It is vital to ensure the door is still fully operable and décor doesn’t interfere with daily use, project too far into a corridor, or, if this is the push side of the door (the door pushes towards the classroom), make sure three dimensional decorations are not mounted within the bottom 10” of the door and that these same decorations do not interfere with the required 32” clear opening width as defined by the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Decorating Fire Rated Doors

If the classroom door is fire rated, decorations cannot be attached to either side (access or egress) of the door or frame. Decorations on a fire rated door assembly add a “fuel load” (combustible product) to the door and/or frame which will contribute to the assembly failing prior the amount of time the door is fire rated for. If the classroom door has a lite (window) in it, or the door’s frame includes a sidelite (a type of glass window into the frame, on the side of the door) nothing can be attached to the glass as well.

There is a small exception to fire rated doors per NFPA 80 when it comes to “informational” signage. Information signage can be applied if it does not contribute to the growth of a fire. The signage must be applied using adhesives and cannot exceed 5% of the door or the frame surface. Information signage is not permitted on the sidelite (window). Screws and/or nails are not permitted to be used to attach signs because they penetrate the surface of the door which can interfere with the fire tested integrity of the door and can void the fire label.

 

While the start of a new school year and the idea of decorating a classroom to make new students feel welcome is fun; it is important to ensure teachers and administrators are following life safety codes, to protect faculty, students and parents. Since 1954, LaForce has been a leader in life safety, providing solutions, and top service to all our customers. Whether you have a question about life safety codes or want to get started on your next project with LaForce, fill out our easy-to-use contact form and one of our experts will be in touch with you shortly.