One of the toughest problems faced in our industry is ensuring that openings specified and installed are “up to code”.  Many codes and standards govern architectural openings, including:

This FAQ guides you through some of the more commonly asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a code and a standard?

A: As the terms are used in our industry, concerning fire and life safety, a “standard” is set of technical specifications and performance requirements developed by accredited Standards Development Organizations through a defined a consensus process. Standards encompass such factors as units of measure, terminology or symbols, and characteristics of quality and performance for products and processes. NFPA 80 is an example of a standard. A “code” is a regulation formulated for the protection of pre-defined objectives for public safety and welfare which is legislated and enforced through law. Most codes reference one or more standards. The NBC, NFC and NFPA 101 are examples of codes.

As an illustration, the NBC establishes criteria that building materials, products and assemblies must meet.  Some of these criteria are explicitly stated in the NBC, while others are incorporated by reference to material or product standards published by third-party standards development organizations.  Only those portions of the standards related to the objectives of the Code are mandatory parts of the NBC.

Which code takes precedence in each area of Canada?

A: All federally-funded projects are subject to the NBC and NFC in all areas of Canada. BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec issue their own building and fire codes (based on the national codes), while Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador and the three territories adopt the national codes province-wide. In New Brunswick and PEI, individual municipalities adopt the national codes. For an up-to-date listing of which codes operate in which jurisdictions, please see, click here. Note that, starting with the 2025 code cycle, all provinces/territories will begin harmonizing their own codes with the NBC and NFC.

Which testing and certification agencies are acceptable in each area of Canada for doors, frames and hardware?

A: In all jurisdictions, Underwriters Laboratories Canada (ULC) and Warnock Hersey (WHI) are recognized. Alberta and Quebec recognize Factory Mutual in some cases.

What is the address of each provincial building and fire code authority?

A: Please see the listing provided on the DHI website, click here.

What organizations involved in the industry have useful information on codes and standards?

A: There are several such organizations:

Organization Publications
American Architectural Manufacturing Association (AAMA)
1827 Walden Office Square, Suite 550
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Website: http://www.aamanet.org
Storefront and Entrance Manual
Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI)
46179 Westlake Drive, Suite 120
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
Website: http://www.awinet.org
Architectural Woodwork Standards
2014, 2nd Edition
Fee: $100.00 US
Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers (AWMAC)
Association of Canada
4803 Centre Street NW, Unit 02A
Calgary, Alberta T2E 2Z6, Canada
Website: http://www.awmac.com
Architectural Woodwork Standards
2014, 2nd Edition
Fee: Same Book as AWI
Woodwork Institute (WI)
PO Box 98027
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0247
Website: http://woodworkinstitute.com/
Architectural Woodwork Standards
2014, 2nd Edition
Fee: Same Book as AWI
Canadian Steel Door Manufacturers Assoc. (CSDMA)
1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801
Toronto, ON M5E 1W7
Website: http://www.csdma.ca
Hollow Metal Manual
Various Dates
Fee: Free Download in PDF or doc
Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA)
800 Roosevelt Rd, Bldg. C, Suite 302
Glen Ellyn, IL. 60137
Website: http://www.naamm.org
Hollow Metal Manual
Various Dates
Fee: Free Download in PDF or doc
Steel Door Institute (SDI)
30200 Detroit Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145
Website: http://www.steeldoor.org
Steel Door Fact File
Various Dates
Fee: Free Download in PDF format
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
2101 L Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20037
Website: http://usgbc.org
LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design)
LEED Documents
Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC)
47 Clarence Street, Suite 202
Ottawa, ON K1N 9K1
Website: http://cagbc.org
LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design)
LEED Documents
Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA)
330 N Wabash Ave , Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60611
Website: http://www.wdma.com
IS 1A – 13 Architectural Wood
Flush Doors
Fee: $25.00
ANSI/CCA 117.1:
Usable and Accessible Building and Facilities
Website: http://webstore.ansi.org/
IS-6A – 13 Architectural Wood
Stile and Rail Doors
Fee: $24.00

Do Canadian hardware manufacturers test hardware or are US tests used?

A: Both Canadian- and US-based manufacturers wanting to sell products in Canada are required to comply with Canadian Codes and Standards.  Testing can be conducted by any laboratory that is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) to conduct fire door and hardware testing.  SCC accredits testing laboratories located in both Canada and the US.

Must all hardware for fire-rated openings be tested?

A: Different types of hardware are tested with doors and frames as a total unit constituting a fire door assembly. Those items not tested in this manner must either meet the requirements of NFPA 80 or be tested separately by an accredited or approved testing laboratory. For example, items which appear in the ULC Building Materials Directory signify that samples of such products have been submitted to UL or ULC and were found to comply with the applicable requirements. This authorizes the use of the appropriate listing mark and obligates the manufacturer to the UL or ULC follow-up service.

In addition, there are some items, such as hinges (other than spring hinges) which are not listed or tested but must meet the requirements of NFPA 80 Table and Table A. (a), (b) and (c).

Where can I find the requirements for hardware for doors in means of egress in various codes?

A: There are several sections of the NBC which govern the installation and use of doors and hardware; they must be read together to specify correct material. Part 3 of the NBC addresses the requirements for larger and taller buildings, while Part 9 covers certain building occupancies, up to 3 storeys in height or less than 600 m2 total building area. Provincial building codes in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec may vary from the NBC. Section 6.4 of NPFA80 deals with assembly components and section 6.4.3 specifically references builders’ hardware.

Do codes in the US have any bearing on Canadian codes?

A: The code development organizations in Canada and the US are completely independent of one another, and each follows different processes and schedules.  However, due to the large number of code requirements and market size, code changes adopted in the US are often also proposed to be adopted in Canada.  Even if adopted in principle, Canadian codes reference Canadian standards where available, so evidence of compliance with those standards will need to be presented.

Canadian regulatory authorities still control final acceptance and will insist on changes if products do not comply with Canadian codes. 

What is the difference between the terms “labeled” and “listed”?

A: In principle, there is no difference. Paragraph 3.2.3 of NFPA 80 defines “labeled” as “equipment or materials to which has been attached a label, symbol or other identifying mark of an organization that is acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and is concerned with product evaluation, that maintains periodic inspection of production of labeled equipment or materials, and by whose labeling the manufacturer indicates compliance with appropriate standards or performance in a specified manner.”

Paragraph 3.2.4 of NFPA 80 defines “listed” as “equipment, materials or services included in a list published by an organization that is acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and concerned with evaluation of products or services, that maintains periodic inspection of production of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services, and whose listing states that either the equipment, material or services meets appropriate designated standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specific purpose.”

All published listings will include the following, or an equivalent, statement:

The appearance of a company's name or product in this database does not in itself assure that products so identified have been manufactured under the third-party Follow-up Service.  Only those products bearing the approved Certification Mark should be considered to be Listed and covered under Follow-up Service.  Always look for the Mark on the product.

Do buildings constructed for federally-owned projects require labeled fire doors?

A: Yes, in most cases. The NBC references NFPA 80 for the installation of fire doors, therefore fire doors must be labeled.

Can a label be attached to a door assembly in the field?

A: If the reference to "field" means the job site, the answer is no, with one exception: a label can be attached in the field only by an Inspector from either ULC or Intertek (WHI), depending on the lab that tested the manufacturer's product. If the reference describes a distributor's fabrication shop, the answer is a qualified yes – not every fabrication shop can do so, however. Some hollow metal manufacturers have a licensed authorized labeling service which allows the distributor to apply labels in the shop. The entire process is controlled and monitored by the particular agency issuing the labels.

Is it possible and acceptable to install a vision panel or other lights in a “stock” flush fire-labeled door?

A: The same answer to the question about attaching labels in the field would apply. Only those distributors with a licensed, authorized labeling service would be able to modify label doors in their fabrication shops. Size and glass limitations as directed by the applicable code would have to be followed.

Are labeled doors and frames allowed to be altered once received from the manufacturer/distributor?

A: Paragraph of NFPA 80 says that “for job site preparation of surface-applied hardware, function holes for mortise locks and holes for labeled viewers, a maximum ¾ in. (19 mm.) wood and composite door undercutting, and protection plates shall be permitted.” Paragraph says “surface-applied hardware shall be applied to the door or frame without removing material other than drilling round holes to accommodate cylinders, spindles and similar operational elements and through bolts in doors.” This is qualified by paragraph, which says “the holes described in shall not be permitted to exceed a diameter of 1 in. (25.4 mm) with the exception of cylinders.”

Does an opening retain its label if the door and frame are from different manufacturers?

A: It is generally accepted they do, provided they have been tested under the same procedures and listed by an approved agency. Caution must be exercised, however, because of certain labeling restrictions for different manufacturers. You must also be aware that some types of assemblies necessitate that the door(s) and frame be from one manufacturer, e.g. units with transom panels and Dutch door assemblies.

Is there a maximum height for kickplates on a labeled fire door?

A: NFPA 80, at paragraph to, deals with kickplates (“protection plates”):

  • Factory installed protection plates shall be installed in accordance with the listing of the door
  • Field installed protection plates shall be labeled and installed in accordance with their listing
  • Labeling shall not be required where the top of the protection plate is not more than 16 in. (406 mm.) above the bottom of the door

Why can’t kickplates more than 16 in. high be used on labeled doors?

A: The 16 in. limitation is noted in NFPA 80 because larger plates may possibly distort the door or create other reactions during a fire. A fire test is required for plates over 16 in. high in order to determine the ability of the fire assembly to withstand the required temperatures for the various specific time periods. Larger plates have been tested and approved as part of the total fire assembly by individual manufacturers. Accordingly, larger plates can be used only on doors of a manufacturer who has successfully integrated their use within their individual fire assembly test.

Can decorative laminates be applied to the face of a steel fire door?

A: “Decorative laminates are usually defined as “plant-ons” and are used to achieve a decorative design or enhance the aesthetics of a door. Although there is no limit to the size or frequency of their use, they cannot be applied to a fire door except when tested and listed in a door manufacturer’s published listing. See paragraph and appendix E (paragraphs E-2 and E-3) of NFPA 80 for more information.

Does a fire-door assembly using a channel-iron frame require the frame to be labeled?

A: NFPA 80 paragraph 3.3.23 describes a channel frame as consisting of “head and jamb members of structural steel channels, either shop assembled or field assembled, to be used with masonry walls.” Paragraph G.10.1.3. (Annex G, “Types of Door Construction”) directs that it be “erected before masonry walls are built. The design and construction are to meet the requirements of 6.3.1” which states ( that “only labeled door frames shall be used.” It therefore must be concluded that they must be labeled.

To the best of our knowledge, only one manufacturer has a channel-iron frame which complies with the requirements of UL and can bear a label.

Waiver of the label requirement for a channel-iron frame within a fire assembly is at the discretion of the local building official or the authority having jurisdiction.

Do labeled fired doors require smoke seals or gasketing?

A: As per NFPA 80, paragraph 6.4.8, “gasketing on fire doors or frames shall be in accordance with the published listings of the door, frame or gasketing material manufacturer.”

Is there a minimum and maximum door width and height for a labeled opening?

A: It depends.  All listings for fire doors will identify the maximum width and height applicable to the specific product or assembly.  In addition, most listing agencies offer an "oversized door program" for certain types of fire door assemblies, generally when they exceed a maximum of 12 ft. by 12 ft. NFPA 80 paragraph 4.3.9 says “authorities having jurisdiction shall be consulted for information on the size of oversize doors that shall be permitted in a given location.”

Please refer to your manufacturer’s listing to determine the maximum tested assembly sizes permitted.

Are manual flush bolts permitted on labeled fire doors?

A: According to NFPA 80, paragraph, “manually operated, labeled, top and bottom flush mounted or surface mounted bolts on the inactive leaf of a pair of doors shall be permitted to be used where acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction, provided they do not pose a hazard to safety to life.”

Are there minimum and maximum clearance requirements for labeled fire doors?

A: The clearance under the bottom of a fire door shall be a maximum of ¾ in. (19 mm.), as per NFPA 80 For swinging doors with builders’ hardware, paragraph of NFPA 80 says “the clearances between the top and vertical edges of the door and the frame, and the meeting edges of doors swinging in pairs, shall be ⅛ in. +/- 1/16 in. (3.18 mm. +/- 1.59 mm.) for steel doors and shall not exceed ⅛ in. (3.18 mm.) for wood doors.

What is the difference between self-closing and automatic-closing devices?

A: According to NFPA 80, self-closing doors are doors that swing freely and are equipped with a closing device to cause the door to close and latch each time it is opened (paragraph, while automatic-closing doors are permitted to close automatically when released by a fail-safe door holder/release, hold open mechanism, or an integral closing device that automatically closes the door during an alarm condition (paragraph

Do spring hinges meet the requirement for self-closing devices for labeled fire doors?

A: NFPA 80, Table indicates that steel, mortise or surface (labeled, self-closing, spring-type hinges) are acceptable for use on a door up to 3 ft. by 7 ft. (914.4 mm. by 2133.6 mm.). Please review the chart for specifics.

How do I determine when and if panic hardware must be used?

A: Paragraph of the NBC provides that panic hardware must be used:

  • On a door equipped with a latch, every exit door from a floor area of an Assembly Occupancy with an occupancy load of 100 or more;
  • On every door leading to an exit lobby from an exit stair shaft and every exterior door leading from an exit stair shaft in a building having an occupancy load of 100 or more;
  • On every exit door from a floor area containing a High Hazard Industrial Occupancy.

Paragraph of NFPA 80 states that panic hardware is not acceptable for use on fire doors.

How do I determine if an exit stairwell door should be furnished with either panic hardware or passage sets?

A: The logic of using panic hardware is directly related to the continuation of egress from a place of assembly or other occupancies demanding their use. Whenever panic hardware is required, the entire egress route from that point to the exterior of the building must continue with panic hardware. Please also see the question “How do I determine when and if panic hardware must be used?

Do all doors require lever-type trims?

A: No.  However, paragraph of the NBC does require that door operating devices in a barrier free path of travel shall not require tight grasping or twisting of the wrist to operate.

Can I use magnetic locks to secure a door?

A: Paragraph (4) and (5) of the NBC provide:

Electromagnetic locks without latches, pins or other devices to keep the door closed may be installed on exit doors except doors leading directly from high hazard industrial occupancies, provided:

  • The building is equipped with a fire alarm system, and
  • The locking device and all similar devices in the exit access leading to the exit unlock upon fire alarm, and
  • The locking device releases immediately upon loss of power to the lock and associated auxiliary controls, and
  • The device releases immediately upon operation of a manually operated switch accessible only to authorized personnel, and
  • A force of 90 N applied to the door opening hardware initiates an irreversible process that releases the locking device within 15 seconds and the device shall not relock until the door has been opened, and
  • Upon release, the locking device must be manually reset by the switch referred to above, and
  • If more than one locking device of this type is used in a building, the switch must release and reset all locking devices simultaneously, and
  • A legible sign must be permanently mounted on the exit door to indicate that the locking device will release 15 seconds after the application for force to the door opening hardware.

Operating hardware for the doors in this section shall be installed 1200 mm. maximum above the finished floor.

The requirements and conditions where magnetic locks can be installed differ between the provinces.  Additional information and conditions of use are also provided in NBC for care, treatment and detention facilities.  The local AHJ should be consulted.

What are the glass size restrictions for labeled fire doors?

A: The NBC contains specific requirements for maximum area of wired glass permitted in some applications.  They are provided in Table (below):

NFPA 80 provides Table 4.4.5:

Fire Door Rating (Hours)

Maximum Area of Glazing (per Door Leaf)

½, 1/3 hour

Limited to maximum area tested

¾ hour

Limited to maximum area tested

1, 1 ½ hour

Limited to maximum area tested

3 hour

100 sq. in. (0.065 m. sq.)

Paragraph of NFPA 80 also states that the maximum area of individual exposed lights shall be 1296 sq. in. (0.84 m. sq.) with no dimension exceeding 54 in. (1.37 m.) unless otherwise tested. Please refer to the applicable manufacturer’s listing and testing documentation for specific information on application.

What type of glass is required for labeled fire doors?

A: Paragraph 4.4.1 of NFPA 80 says that only labeled fire resistance rated or fire protection rated glazing material shall be used in fire door assemblies when permitted by door listings. However, the NBC currently specifically references wired glass in and Table

Is a 20-minute fire door always treated as other labeled openings, with self-latching and self-closing?

A: It is generally recognized it should be, if it is to be considered to function as a true fire door. However, certain provisions of the various codes may make exception to these requirements.  The NBC ( requires a self-closing device on every swinging door in a fire separation, except a door that is located between:

  • a classroom and a corridor providing access to exit from the classroom in a building that is not more than 3 storeys in building height;
  • a public corridor and an adjacent room of business and personal services occupancy in a building that is not more than 3 storeys in building height (provided the door is not located in a dead-end portion of the corridor);
  • a patients' sleeping room and a corridor serving the patients' sleeping room, provided the room and corridor are within a fire compartment in a hospital or nursing home with treatment; or
  • a patients' sleeping room and an adjacent room that serves the patients' sleeping room, provided these rooms are within a fire compartment in a hospital or nursing home.

What is the difference between a 20-minute smoke door and a 20-minute fire door?

A: The codes in Canada do not explicitly address 20-minute "smoke doors". The common denominator is the reference to “20-minute”. Regardless of further description, that terminology indicates a rating requirement. Accordingly, a door which has passed or meets the 20-minute fire rating criteria may be used when a 20-minute rating is designated for the inhibition of smoke passage. However, additional provisions, such as gaskets or astragals, may be required to impede the movement of smoke.  Also, the NBC ( 3)) requires 20-minute doors have a maximum clearance of 6 mm at the bottom and 3 mm at the side and top.

You should be aware that, within some of the model US code groups, the normal hose-stream portion of a fire test is not part of the criteria for testing a 20-minute door (UL is testing with the hose-stream criteria and without it, but classifies each differently). In Canada, the hose stream test is always required for 20-minute fire doors.

What is the minimum opening width to meet accessibility requirements?

A: The minimum opening width varies greatly from province to municipality. Please be sure to check local jurisdictions for compliance. That said, the NBC (paragraph provides that “every doorway in a barrier path of travel shall have a clear width of at least 800 mm. when the door is in the open position, measured from the face of the door at 90 degrees to the outside edge of the frame soffit (1050 mm. minimum for doors require to accommodate moving patients in beds, as per paragraph

Under what conditions are temperature-rise rated fire doors required to be used?

A: Section of the NFC, and its accompanying table set out the circumstances and requirements for temperature-rise rated fire doors.  In some instances, the requirement is waived in article  Please click here to download an explanatory paper.

This FAQ has been prepared based on the NBC and NFC (2020 editions), NFPA 80 (2013 edition) and NFPA 101 (2018 edition).  Since codes may be varied by different jurisdictions (provincial and municipal), you are encouraged to contact the governing jurisdiction or review its codes.

Disclaimer:  This information is provided for reference purposes only.  While we have taken every effort to ensure it is accurate as of the date of publication (June 2024), DHI Canada assumes no liability for any errors that may be contained herein.  For definitive information, you should always consult the most current version of your local or provincial building or fire code.