Understanding What A Locksmith Does

Touch Bars Vs. Narrow Stiles: Does The Type Of Exit Device You Choose Really Make A Difference?

by Maëly Richard

Touch bars and narrow-stile exit devices—those levers and bars you press to open a door in an office building—seem to be almost the same except for their designed look. However, they do have some distinct differences that can influence the situations in which the devices are used. Part of this is a safety issue, while the cosmetic side of the debate isn't something you can ignore, either.

Glass Doors and Accidents

Both touch bars and narrow-stile devices work when someone pushes against them. However, the narrow-stile devices have enough space behind them that if someone's hand slips, it can crash into the door itself. If the door is glass, that could result in the glass cracking or even breaking into bits (and tempered glass or not, that can cause injury). There's also the risk of injury to a person's wrist if his or her hand hits the door after slipping off the exit device. For situations where people using the doors might have issues with grip, a touch bar mounted directly along the surface of the door would be better. A touch bar may also be better for glass doors in general, just because of the damage risk.

Historical Looks

However, if the door has to retain a certain look—particularly a more old-fashioned or traditional look—a narrow-stile device may be better. This style is more often found on older buildings and can blend in better on very old buildings where some combination of looks and ease of use needs to be found.

Smaller Spaces

The lower-profile touch bars may be better for doors in small rooms or tight spaces. Narrow-stile devices, despite the name, can stick out a little more from the door. That makes it easier for people to bump into the devices when passing by.

Proximity to Lines of People

Have you ever seen people get very bored when waiting in line? They tend to lean on things, including walls. If they accidentally lean on a door with a touch bar, they could open the door accidentally and fall. A narrow-stile device, at least, pokes out a bit and can give people a physical warning before they lean too far onto the door and bar.

If you need to find exit devices, have a representative from a dealer like Johnny Locksmith come to your building and evaluate the doors and the spaces around them. The rep might have a better idea of which type of device will fare better on which door.