Understanding Lockset Grades

Founded in 1925 as the Hardware Manufacturers’ Statistical Association, now known as the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association, BHMA took a leadership role in developing standards for builders hardware to ensure quality and performance. 

Hardware is a key element in buildings as door openings provide means of egress, security and building accessibility for people with physical disabilities. BHMA developed a minimum performance grading system for locksets. This grading system is also accredited by the America National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, non-profit organization that coordinates the voluntary standardization in developing and maintaining performance standards for builder’s hardware.

Grade 1 is the highest performing rating. A Grade 1 lock must be capable of performing through 800,000 latches and unlatches without failure. It must withstand 700 lbs of force per inch for lever locks. Typically used in commercial high traffic areas or door openings that will get a lot of abuse.

Grade 2 is a medium grade and capable of operating through 400,000 cycles while withstanding 450 lbs of force per inch for lever locks. A good choice for light commercial areas.

Grade 3 is the lowest grade. It must operate for a minimum of 200,000 cycles and withstand 225 lbs of force per inch for lever locks. This grade is typically for residential applications.

Buildings frequently use both Grade 1 and Grade 2 locksets. Entry doors and rooms with high dollar items would typically use Grade 1. Another use would be high abuse doors – think schools. Office doors, teacher’s lounge bathroom are examples of where a Grade 2 lock might fit.

To make it easy to determine our locks Grade all of our locksets have the Grade number included in the description of the lock. We also have the certifications numbers listed under the Certifications heading and a photo of the BHMA logo noted also. Of course if you have any questions please feel free to call our customer service department.

Proper installation is essential in hardware performing how it was designed and intended. Please make sure to read the instructions and install accordingly. If a specific door opening has had locks not perform well consider using a higher grade lock.

Why is the bottom rod missing?

Have you ever come across a pair of doors that have just a top vertical rod exit device and not top and bottom and wondered why? Often an architect or specification writer will specify “less bottom rod (LBR)” on pairs of doors in healthcare facilities.

This photo was taken in an assisted living facility here in St. Louis. This opening is a pair of corridor doors and are fire-rated, which means they must positively latch in case of a fire to control flames and smoke from traveling through the facility. Without latching hardware on the exit device itself, positive latching is accomplished with the surface mounted top vertical rod. While it isn’t clear from the picture, the door is being held open with a magnetic hold open tied into the fire alarm. If the fire alarm is activated the hold open will release. The door closer will swing the door shut and the top vertical rod will positively latch the door.

This leads us to the question why the architect or specification writer specified LBR. While top and bottom vertical rods help secure the door, the bottom vertical rod is secured to a floor strike mounted in the floor. That floor strike can become a tripping hazard to people that use mobility devices, such as canes, walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs. ADA regulation 404.2.10, Door and Gate Surfaces, states: “Swing door and gate surfaces within 10 inches (255mm) of the finish floor or ground measured vertically shall have a smooth surface on the push side extending the full width of the door or gate.” The regulation goes on to specify how thick protection plates and installation screws can be.

This installation is a textbook example of the intersection of fire code and ADA regulations.  The goal of all these codes is to keep people safe – from fire and from tripping.  When architects and door hardware manufacturer’s work together, the result can be safe, attractive, and code compliant.

Creating LEED Buildings

Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources began before the 1970s, but it was the oil prices increase during that period that spurred the movement. The green building field formalized in the late 1980s and 1990s when several organizations developed committees, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) who formed the Committee on the Environment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) green building “is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.”

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, was introduced in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) offering a new certification program for building design, construction, operations, and maintenance. There are several levels of LEED and when LEED v4 was released, it added new credits for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and material ingredients. Similar to nutritional labels that can be found on food items, only instead of the impact of the food to your body’s wellbeing, it provides the environmental impact of the building material or product.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of an EPD is an “in life cycle assessment, an EPD is a standardized way of quantifying the environmental impact of a product or system. Declarations include information on the environmental impact of raw material acquisition, energy use, and efficiency, content of materials and chemical substances, emissions to air, soil, and water and waste generation. Product and company information is also included.”


At Hager Companies, we’re concerned about how our company and products affect the environment. We have more than 170 years of experience in the door hardware industry and a longstanding tradition of environmental awareness. Many of the materials we use in the production of products are made of both pre- and post-consumer materials, helping projects earn LEED® points.

We continue to take steps to minimize our footprint throughout the production process and product lifecycle. These steps include reducing transportation through consolidation manufacturing and distribution, implementing scrap metal and corrugated product recycling efforts, emphasizing recycled content and working together with local communities to provide a clean environment.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) disclosure through Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) is a key element of our environmental impact reduction strategy. LCA allows us to better understand the true burden of our products and EPDs allow us to share our results with our customers. As such, we are proud to share our sixteen recently released EPDs covering several of our product lines. On each product webpage covered under the EPDs there will be an icon, similar to UL, WH, BHMA, or ADA, declaring the product to be EPD certified.

Hager Companies will continue to invest in quality products produced in an environmentally conscious manner ensuring the protection of our earth’s resources for many generations to come.

170 Years & Six Generations

We’ve heard the story about Charles Hager leaving Germany in 1848 and ending up in St. Louis working for a blacksmith. Through hard work, skill, foresight, and determination he created a company that is still in business today, 170 years later. It’s a testament to Charles and the entire Hager family that C. Hager and Sons Hinge Company has grown into Hager Companies, supplying door hardware and electronic access control products worldwide.

You only have to see our lock levers names to know a few of the members of the Hager family that contributed to the company’s successes through wars, depressions, the industrial revolution, and now the fast-paced world of technology. From an interview with the St. Louis Business Journal, Josh Hager, company president and COO, stated “it’s been our willingness to change” that has kept the company thriving.

Currently, the 5th and 6th generations are involved in steering the business. In the photo above, from left to right are Ralph, Johnston, Arch, Josh, Rusty, August, Warren, and Sonny Hager. It’s not unusual to see the Hagers walking around the St. Louis headquarters chatting with team members. Per Josh Hager “We want employees to have the opportunity to grow and thrive here.”

The company continues to build and expand incorporating the latest technology in their manufacturing process. Last year, three new improvements were installed in the Montgomery plant, a Laser Shear Genius, a new in-house anodizing line, and an automated pinning and keying equipment. All will increase reliability, flexibility, and output, shortening lead times. This year, the company broke ground on a new 65,000 sq. ft. distribution center that will have a state-of-the-art inventory management system.

Bringing more value is key in supporting our customers. Being an independent company, not beholden to stockholders, allows us to make decisions with our customers’ best interests in mind. As Josh Hager noted “we’re very committed to staying close to our customers.” Hager Cos. continues to stand alongside our channel partners and are dedicated to the relationships we’ve fostered.

This past week the team at the Hager headquarters in St. Louis celebrated 170 years with a luncheon. While addressing the team, Ralph Hager noted “It’s all because of people like yourselves, that work here, which makes this company great. I can’t thank you enough and I know the Hager Family will always be thankful for everyone who has contributed to the company’s success and growth.”

As the year winds down, we join with Ralph in saying thank you to our customers, representatives, channel partners, suppliers, leadership, and team members in celebrating this milestone. Being stewards of this wonderful company we will continue to work hard for the generations to follow.

Don’t Get Locked Out!

Understanding which lock function a customer needs can mean the difference between a happy customer or an unhappy one, if the lock doesn’t function how they expected.

The function is the mechanical behavior of the lock. The need (or not) for security on the door opening dictates what type of function is required. A door to a coat closet typically requires less security than a door to a mechanical room. As buildings become more complex, door openings and therefore door hardware also does . We offer over 35 ANSI functions that 

The use of the cylindrical mechanical lock entry function ANSI F109/Hager 53 and the office function ANSI F82/Hager 50 are sometimes misunderstood.

Per the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) the functions are described as follows:

Entry: F109 (Hager 53) – Dead locking latch bolt operated by a lever from either side except when outside lever is locked by the push or turn button inside. Key outside or operating inside lever releases push or turn button unlocking outside lever except when push or turn button has been rotated to keep outside lever locked. Inside push or turn button must be manually operated to unlock outside lever. Inside lever always operates latch bolt.

Office: F82A (Hager 50) – Dead locking latch bolt operated by lever from either side except when outside lever is locked, operating key in outside lever or operating inside lever unlocks push button or other locking device and retracts latch bolt. Closing door does not release push bottom or other locking device.

The Pros: Both have free means of egress from inside the room to the outside.

The main difference is how each function locks.

F109 (Hager 53) – Entry Function: There are two ways this function locks. The first is by pressing the inside push button. That locks the outside lever and requires a key to gain entry. Turning the interior lever also unlocks the outside lever. If the push button is pressed in and turned, then the outside lever stays locked. Turning the inside lever will not unlock it. It would require the push button to be turned to the original position to be unlocked. In either locked position, the outside lever requires a key to unlock from the exterior side.

As an example, this lock function would work on a back exterior door to a small office building where the door stays secured as employees leave the building.  

It is easy to be locked out with this function so be careful.

F82A (Hager 50)Office function: Since most employees don’t walk around with keys or card readers all day within their office area (unless it is a high-security facility) this  function is a good choice for an office door. The outside lever can be locked by pushing the button on the interior lever or with a key from the exterior. The push button does not turn. A key is used to unlock the lever or simply turning the inside lever also unlocks.  

Determining the function by the name, entry and office might not be the best choice. Take a few extra minutes to ask how the room is going to be used in order to make the best choice.




How to Hand a Door

You can date how long someone has been in the door and hardware industry by how they explain how to hand a door. 

People in the industry for 30 years or more have heard the term “put your butt to the butts” in order to hand a door. At one time hinges were called butts.

The Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) has this tip. “Make sure you are on the correct side of the door which is the secure side or key side. This is determined with “to” and “from”.  “To” indicates a door swing into a building, room or space.  “From” indicates a door swing out of a building, room or space.” 

Having a cheat chart is the easiest way if you are new to the industry. This is the most straightforward chart we have found for single and pairs of doors.