Double Acting Traffic Doors Provide an Entreé to Efficiency

Facilitating accessibility and screening for aesthetic and environmental effect
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Impact traffic doors are constructed utilizing a variety of core and cladding materials and construction methods. Panel cores can be wood or foam and are clad with high-pressure laminate (HPL), stainless steel, aluminum, or impact-resistant plastic. Some models feature stainless steel edge caps or internal steel reinforcements for increased durability. Some typical benefits include:


Because double acting doors do not close against a stop, they facilitate smooth, efficient traffic flow in either direction. There is no need to stop to open the door, operate knobs or levers. The doors simply open upon impact from personnel, hand trucks, pallet jacks, or even forklifts and then close automatically after the traffic has passed through the opening.

Physical and Psychological Screens

Double acting traffic doors act to separate various functional spaces in a facility, restricting access and screening cluttered or unsightly work areas, stockrooms, and the like. In addition to visual separation, they provide thermal and environmental separation and sound attenuation as well as a visual barrier between disparate operations that reinforces the facility's commitment to maintain an aesthetic public space for customers and patrons.

Quick Installation

As a result of pre-drilled frames that are correctly sized for the door opening and reinforced at all hinge locations, some 36-inch by 84-inch traffic doors can be installed in 30 minutes or less by one person, while other traffic doors take more than 60 minutes to install with a two-person crew—a factor that can result in a significant cost savings, particularly when numerous doors are required in one facility or in a chain with multiple facilities. By eliminating on-site drilling for the hardware, hole location errors are minimized, further reducing installation time and costs.

Energy Efficiency

Double acting doors improve efficiency and reduce energy costs as they are less likely to be propped open during loading and unloading of product in refrigerated areas such as coolers and freezers and in temperature-controlled processing areas.

Insulated double acting doors provided with perimeter gasket seals are effective in minimizing the flow of air, moisture, dust, and particulate matter through the opening. This is particularly important in temperature-controlled environments.


No one door will fit all requirements, and there are a multitude of models available on the market to suit a wide variety of applications. Cladding materials are available to match the surrounding décor and options can be applied to the door to provide protection against impact from pallets, carts, forklifts, and other traffic utilizing the opening. Vision panels can be sized and located to meet regulatory and safety needs.

Applications for Double Acting Doors

Manufacturing Facilities
Between processing areas and in loading dock areas

Hotels and Casinos
In dining, dock, and service areas

Food Processing Facilities
Between processing areas, in coolers, and in dock areas

In dining facilities, walk-in coolers, and in surgical prep areas

Pet Care Facilities
In pet grooming and vet service areas

Country Clubs, Banquet Halls
Between dining and kitchen facilities and in coolers

Pharmaceutical Plants
In processing areas

Between kitchen and dining areas and in coolers

Retail Stores
Between sales floors and stockroom and in loading dock areas

Between sales floors and stockroom in walk-in coolers and in loading dock areas

As has been mentioned, double acting doors are used primarily where a separation of areas is needed for visual, thermal, environmental, or sound control. For example, kitchens in restaurants, hotels, resorts, and institutions take advantage of the easy passage for waiters to carry food to and from the customers' dining area without having to use their hands to open the door. Retail stores use double acting doors to maintain a separation from the not-so-attractive warehouse area to the customer sales area. Gate or café-style doors are popular options in restaurant and retail environments, particularly in convenience store applications. Food markets also find the doors useful for efficient stocking from the storage areas. Perimeter gaskets allow double acting doors to be used in an area where a temperature differential exists as in walk-in coolers. See chart listing applications for double acting doors.

With restaurants, presentation is key. Double acting doors are a good choice for kitchen to dining area openings where it is important to separate the sights and sounds of the kitchen from patrons. New product options for double acting doors include flush windows and internally hidden or externally concealed hinges. Doors with internally hidden hinges are typically 1-½ inch thick overall and doors with externally concealed hinges are typically ¾ inch thick overall. A combination of flush windows and hidden or concealed hinges creates a sleek, attractive door panel suitable for upscale restaurants, banquet halls, country clubs, and hotels. The surface of the door panel is available in an almost limitless selection of HPL choices or stainless steel.

With a wide range of door construction, cladding, and custom graphic options, decorative possibilities abound. Some choose to design the look of their double acting doors simply for aesthetic appeal, while others choose a more functional approach. For example, some restaurants utilize two separate door openings allowing for one-way traffic into the kitchen through one opening and one-way traffic into the dining area through the other. In one case, a restaurant owner designed these one-way doors with red laminate on one side and green on the other so that his employees knew which door to safely pass through. With the use of vinyl overlays and silk screening, double acting doors can be designed to include logos and graphics. Sports bars, for example, have opted to incorporate images of beer bottles and sports images into their double acting doors. Double acting doors can even be built with a white board laminate so that management can remind servers to ask about dessert or to inform customers about the “special of the day.”


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2013