Do Exterior Doors Need To Be Fire Rated?

Even if they all look the same to you, there are tons of different doors, and some of the safest are fire-rated doors. Fire doors prevent fire-inflicted damage to buildings by minimizing the spread of flames and smoke, keeping the fire contained in one area.

Exterior doors may need to be fire-rated depending on the law and the building codes where you live. Even if you do not need to use a fire-rated exterior door, using one is always the best practice since emergencies happen with no warning.

Do Exterior Doors Need To Be Fire Rated?

In this article, I’ll tell you more about when you need to use a fire-rated door and when installing one is not necessary. I’ll also explain how these doors work, how to use them properly, and the laws and benefits surrounding them.

How Fire-Rated Doors Function

Usually made with steel or fiberglass, fire-rated doors are built not to bust open when consumed by flames.

The goal is to keep the fire from spreading to other parts of a building, giving those inside more time to escape safely.

Fire doors also reduce the risk of inhaling a harmful or even lethal amount of smoke during a fire since the smoke and flames are confined to one space or room.

It is worth noting that the flames will eventually overcome these doors if the fire is not put out within the period the door can withstand the heat and flames.

Fire-rated doors are designed to protect people and property from fires for a specific time by slowing the spread until they can be extinguished.

This time frame often ranges from 20 to 90 minutes.

Do All Homes Need To Have Fire-Rated Doors?

Not all homes need to have fire-rated doors.

While some neighborhoods and regions have specific building codes that require fire-rated doors, there’s no federal building code that requires people to use fire-rated doors in private residences.

Since there are no regulations under the law that require people to use fire-rated doors in their houses, individuals or families that have had a fire-rated door installed in their homes are not monitored to ensure they are using these doors properly.

Private homes do not have to undergo mandatory safety inspections, so it is entirely possible for there to be faults or defects within the door that are never caught or noticed until it is too late.

The tests these doors are put through are also not direct indicators of how protective they are against a fire.

Even if a fire door could withstand heat damage for an hour during a controlled test, there is no guarantee that this will be the case when an actual fire occurs.

These are essential factors to consider when installing a fire-rated door in your home because other preventative measures can be just as effective.

Keeping the door of the room the fire originated in closed shut will still slow the spread even if it is not fire-rated.

Although a fire-rated door provides some protection and makes homeowners feel safe, it can only do so much.

The best thing to do in the event of a house fire is to get yourself and everyone else in your home out as quickly as possible.

Why You Might Consider Installing Residential Fire-Rated Doors

Fire-rated doors are almost always required in public buildings, especially ones built to hold many people at once. For example, you will find them in places like dormitories and hospitals. Still, they are pretty uncommon in private homes.

However, many people feel more at ease when installing fire-rated doors in their homes.

Common locations include doors leading from the garage to the inside of the house and the main exterior entryway door.

In addition to giving families more time to get out of the house during a fire, these doors can help minimize property damage by not allowing the fire to spread to other parts of the home.

When installed in homes, fire-rated doors look slightly different from those in commercial buildings.

Rather than dark, heavy steel doors, residential exterior fire doors are often made with wood or fiberboard, sometimes glazed with fire-resistant glass on the inside.

Fire doors built for homes look nice so that the home’s decor is not compromised, yet homeowners are still provided with an extra layer of security.

Using Fire-Rated Doors Properly

The most important thing to remember regarding fire-rated doors is that they must be closed at all times.

Many people, especially in commercial buildings, prop open fire doors for convenience when going in and out of a building.

They might do this by wedging a piece of wood underneath the door or tying a string to a nearby wall.

Doing anything like this is dangerous because it would not work as intended if a fire were to occur while the door is open.

An open door clearly cannot offer any protection from fire, defeating the purpose.

Therefore, the reliability of fire doors depends entirely on being used correctly by people in a building or home.


So long as they are utilized properly, fire-rated doors may be a great addition to your home, even though they are not required by most laws.

This is especially true if you live in a state like California or any other region prone to wildfires.

Fire-rated doors tend to make homeowners feel safe, offering protection and more time to exit the building in the event of a fire.

However, make sure to keep them closed so that they function as intended.

Cheers, tools owners!

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Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.