Architects: Here’s What You Need to Know About Pivot Doors



If you haven’t yet encountered a client looking for a pivot door during your architecture career, you will at some point — probably sooner rather than later (and if your clients haven’t asked, you should definitely suggest it). Pivot doors are perhaps the hottest item in luxury home design. Whether they’re internal or external, they add an air of elegance and style that no other door can possibly bring to a home. 

Every architect we’ve met who incorporates pivot doors into their work loves them. They work in nearly every space, and the clients are always happy with the final product. If you’re less familiar, here’s what you need to know about pivot doors.

What Makes Pivot Doors So Unique

Hinge doors are easy for people to conceptualize because they’re so accustomed to using them. You have two or three hinges on one side of the door, and the door swings open and shut on those hinges. All the weight of the door rests on those hinges (which also limits the size of the door, but we’ll get to that later).But when people see a pivot door for the first time, it blows their minds a little bit. For starters, the door doesn’t have to open from the very end of one side. They’re typically offset, which means the pivot point is actually a few inches in from the door frame, allowing the door to quite literally pivot open (technically, there is no hinge on a pivot door). In fact, some of them open by pivoting in the middle, giving the entrance to the space a “secret passage” kind of feel. (And who doesn’t want to feel like their bedroom is so private it needs a secret entrance?)An image of a glass pivot door leading out to a pool.

The Mechanics of Pivot Doors

They are Perfectly Balanced

Regardless of where the hinge is placed, all of our custom built, luxurious pivot doors are perfectly balanced. It may seem difficult to believe — especially when you think about how heavy (and large) the doors can be — but it’s true. Much time and effort is placed on making sure our all of our pivot doors are balanced so well that they can be opened with a simple push or pull. To that end, we’ll be sure to make pivot placement suggestions based upon the weight and size of the door (typically between 25 and 33% of the way in from the edge). No matter what you’re looking for in an interior, or exterior pivot door, we can make it happen. 

They Can be Fully Automatic 

Motorized Pivot Doors

Another incredible feature of our pivot doors is that they can be fully motorized and opened using biometrics. (We can also do this with all of our other doors, but let’s be honest: everything is more impressive when it’s a pivot door.)A motorized pivot door will open automatically upon receiving confirmation that you are who you say you are. We have a variety of ways to do so, including keypad entry, keyless entry (which includes a key fob), or biometric screening, such as facial recognition, retinal scan or fingerprint scan.The motors of our latest (and definitely greatest) motorized pivot doors are so low-profile that they actually fit in the door frame itself. You won’t have to create extra space above or beside the door, and the interior designer won’t have to figure out how to cover up any protrusion from the ceiling or the wall.If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of motorized, secure pivot doors in your other research, it’s because we’re the only ones that do it as well as we do. You simply won’t find anyone else who can make a fully secure, motorized, gorgeous luxury pivot door the way we can.

Keyless Entry

Many homeowners opt to have biometric or keyless entry panels put on main entrances to their luxury home — typically front doors, but also garage doors and alternative entrances (like side doors or sliders). Of course, biometrics will make any entrance more sleek and luxurious, but this feature has many benefits that go beyond aesthetics. First of all, biometric panels negates the need for homeowners, their families, and common guests to carry a key. Parents, children, grandparents, and even staff can be programmed into the system so all they have to do to gain entry to the home is show their face, or place a finger on a scanner. Second, biometric screening is far more secure than typical home entry methods — like keys. If you don’t need a key to enter your home, the possibility of losing your keys, keys being duplicated without your permission, or people trying to pick the lock are completely eliminated. No one is getting in your home if they aren’t who they say they are. Homeowners can even set their biometric panels to grant access to a particular person (or persons) for a specific period of time. For example, maybe the in-laws are visiting for a week and the family would like them to be able to come and go as they please. When they arrive, the homeowners can program the panel to recognize their fingerprint (or face), and then tell it to allow them access until the day they’re set to leave.A photo of a large pivot door at the entrance to FBS headquarters.As an architect, you’ll also be happy to know that our biometric and keyless entry panels are low-profile and won’t take up a lot of space. You won’t have to worry about the clean lines being destroyed by an ugly alarm system panel, and cameras won’t be sticking out of random corners.While we do a lot of main entry pivot doors with biometric screening, some homeowners also opt for biometrics on their bedroom Sanctuaries as well. As horrible and unfortunate as it may be to think about, this is a particularly popular choice among people who have been stalked, or have been victims of violent crimes. We’ve been told by clients who’ve made this choice that they’ve been able to sleep better than they had in years — and for the ability to help them in that regard, we’re grateful and honored.

Pivot Doors Don’t Waste Space (Unlike Double Doors) 

Something homeowners, interior designers, and architects can all agree upon is the desire to create as much functional space as possible. There’s little use in designing and building beautiful spaces if they don’t do what the homeowner needs them to do, or doesn’t allow for the necessary activities for that space.Perhaps the easiest example to point to is moving furniture in or out of a house (or room). Let’s say a moving crew needs to bring a couch into the house. It’s in one piece and the only disassembling that can be done is to take the feet off. Given the circumstances, the movers will look for the widest entrance to the home, and in most cases, that’s the front door. For this example, let’s assume you (the architect) has constructed a 64-inch opening for the front door. That space is large enough to accommodate most couches, but the opening does not include the door itself. If you choose a regular hinge door for the opening, you’ll likely need to split that down into double doors — single-door hinges will not work on a 64-inch opening. Double doors would work in this scenario. The movers could open both doors and the couch would fit in well. However, consider when both doors will ever be opened again. Homeowners rarely open both doors on a double door unless it’s French doors that open to another room or a patio. The truth is: both doors probably won’t open again until another large piece of furniture needs to be moved in or out.Double doors are a waste of space — but pivot doors use the vast majority of that large opening. Even with an offset pivot point, you’re going to utilize about 48 inches of that 64-inch opening (assuming the pivot point is 25% of the way in), which is still big enough to fit most furniture. In fact, we’ve built motorized pivot doors for clients that serve as their garage doors. They literally drive their super or hypercars through them every day. A photo of a massive pivot door serving as a garage door.

Pivot Door Sizes and Finishes

They Can be Massive

One of the most impressive parts about pivot doors is how large they can be, and by that we mean that they can be as big as you want them to be. The largest pivot door we’ve ever made (thus far) is 18 feet tall and weighed 1,600 pounds. Traditional hinge doors just simply cannot be that large — they wouldn’t be functional. Because of the way pivot doors operate, we’re able to make them larger, heavier, and more grandiose than we ever could have before — and they’ll be completely fortified and secure, if that’s what your client needs.Perhaps you’re not looking to put a massive pivot door inside your client’s home or office building, but a front entrance would create a bold statement for the structure. Check out this photo of one of our most recent massive pivot doors:FBS pivot doors can be finished in any — literally any — way the client wants. Sometimes, the lack of limitations gives homeowners enormity paralysis, which is completely understandable. We find it’s helpful to go through options with designers and architects so they can see examples of our past work, as well as the finishes we currently offer.The most important thing to keep in mind is that we can match any style or design you’ve already come up with for your client’s space. Whether you’re incorporating real wood, wood veneer, composite wood, glass (of course, ours would be fortified and ballistic), anodized aluminum, bronze, or going completely extravagant with custom marble, leather, or fine stone, we can create doors that perfectly fit into your designWe believe that both security and aesthetics are essential to creating a dream home, so we don’t skimp on options. To see examples of real pivot doors we’ve created that are fully installed and in use in their permanent spaces, check out our gallery here

Can You Get a Hurricane-Certified Fully Secure Pivot Door?

You may be thinking that there are no fortified security pivot doors on the market that are hurricane-certified. However, starting now, we do. As south Florida residents ourselves, we completely understand the necessity of having hurricane-certified doors and windows on your home. We know it’s important to our clients, and we know how much they love our pivot doors. We can make any of our custom fortified doors hurricane-certified — pivot, hinge, or arched. You can be sure the doors of your home won’t fly off their hinges (or pivot points) during the next storm that rolls through.A photo of a large pivot door finished with marble. 

Customizing a Pivot Door for Any Space

People often ask us what our pivot doors look like — How big are they? What colors can you get? Can I get glass in it? Our answer is always the same: What do you want it to look like? When we say our fortified and secure pivot doors are completely customizable in any possible way you, the architect, or your client can imagine — we mean it. The combinations are endless. If your client has a minimalist style and the rest of the doors in the house you’re designing are a simple wood veneer, we can do that, but we’ll make it fortified and ballistic. If your client loves marble sculptures and wants to incorporate marble into his front door, we can do that too. And it will be completely secure. There is absolutely no limit to what we can make for you. If you can dream it, we can build it. Like architects, we’re here to help people create their dream homes — and every luxury home should be exactly what they want it to be, down to the smallest detail. We’d love to talk to you about the newest home you’re designing. You may be able to find some answers on our common questions page, but we’d love for you to give us a call, or make an appointment to stop by one of our showrooms. Let us help you make this your best home design yet.


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