By Michael Tierney
From the August 2021 Issue
Quality and performance are two of the key considerations when selecting new builders hardware for a project. And, determining that a product will perform as well as described can require time-intensive research. Using hardware certified by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), which has been rigorously tested for performance in key areas, can save time in your selection process and provide assurance that the products selected for use in a facility are a worthwhile investment.
BHMA is accredited by the American Standards Institute (ANSI) to write standards for builders hardware products. There are currently more than 33 ANSI/BHMA standards for builders hardware manufacturers to certify their products to, including cabinet hardware, hinges, closers, locksets, sliding and folding door hardware, and deadbolts. Each standard is reviewed at least every five years to ensure that the standards keep up with advances in designs, technology, and test methods.
BHMA Testing Process
Recognizing how various products are tested, understanding their performance standards, and knowing where to find them leads to more informed decisions when selecting hardware. To certify a product to an ANSI/BHMA standard, a manufacturer must have its product tested by a BHMA-designated independent third-party lab.
Each standard requires a product pass a different combination of tests to become certified, and many standards also define different product grades for a particular hardware item. These grades are grade 1, 2 or 3—with grade 1 being the highest. The grade indicates a product has met performance benchmarks in the applicable standard.
The certification process generally consists of five tests: finish, operation, cycling, strength and security. These tests are performed by a third-party test lab, which also confirms compliance with BHMA before a product is deemed certified. These tests are described below:
Finish tests ensure that locks will not soften, bubble, peel, discolor, or corrode after exposure to various environmental conditions. Depending on the standard, these tests can include a salt spray, integrity coating, abrasion tests, and perspiration tests. This also includes UV and humidity testing, which tests various finishes for nearly 144 hours (the equivalent of 20 years of real-world exposure).
Operational tests ensure that hardware will operate when there is unwanted loading on the door, such as a tight door seal or a crowd pushing against a door in an emergency. These tests also gauge the amount of torque (force per inch) necessary to latch or unlatch the lock both with and without a key, including tests that make sure the door will latch easily when it is pushed closed.
Cycle tests make sure the hardware can withstand repeated, long-term usage while continuing to operate properly. A common test installs the builders hardware on a mechanically operated test door, operates the hardware until the required cycles are obtained, and then re-checks for operational compliance. Depending on the product, cycle tests can require over a million cycles and take months to complete.
Strength tests are meant to ensure the trim, latches, deadbolts, and lock mechanisms hold up to daily abuse (such as excessive forces on a lever) and still operate properly. Bored locks levers, for example, are subject to a vertical load of 360 pounds.
Security tests subject locks to physical beat downs and then measure how well these still perform as a locking device. Impacts and rams are often deployed to smash and batter the locks, which are then examined to determine whether or not they are still secure. This array of tests could be described as attacks to gain entry.
The difference between the grades for security tests can be significant. For example, tests using a ram to impact the cylinder face are as follows:
- Grade 1: 10 blows
- Grade 2: 5 blows
- Grade 3: 2 blows
BHMA Certified Products Directory
A reliable and easy way to determine that the builders hardware you are considering is a BHMA Certified product is by seeing if it is listed online on BHMA’s Certified Products Directory, or CPD. The CPD is updated in real-time, providing reassurance that all listings are accurate and up-to-date.
Once in the CPD, users select a standard from a drop-down list and can then filter the resulting listings by brand, type, function number, ANSI number, brand model, or brand series. Users also have the option to click on a brand’s page for brand-specific listings. The CPD allows for robust comparison and selection amongst products as it houses all the BHMA Certified products from 80% of builders hardware manufacturers operating in North America.
Another feature in the CPD is the Certificate of Compliance, which is now available as dated and written evidence that a product is certified by BHMA to meet a specific standard. This certificate can be accessed on an individual brand’s page in the CPD.
To access the BHMA Certified Products Directory, visit buildershardware.com/cpd.
For 20 years, Tierney has served as the product standards director for the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), where he coordinated the development and revision of the BHMA performance standards for building hardware products. He came to BHMA following a 20-year career in manufacturing management at United Technologies, Honeywell, Black and Decker, and Yale Security. He is a principal member on technical committees for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA); the A117.1 Committee for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, and ASTM.
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