As of 2012, the United States had an estimated 5.6 million commercial buildings. With that number continuing to grow every year, consider how many buildings and therefore doors occupants walk through in a lifetime. While the door type may go unnoticed by many, it has an impact on a building’s overall aesthetic and performance, making it a key point of emphasis for design professionals. When looking at the options, two common choices are swing doors and commercial sliding door systems. While swing doors have long been the mainstay, commercial sliding doors are an emerging favorite. Continue reading for a better understanding of why a growing number of design professionals are turning to commercial sliding doors over traditional swing doors.


One of the first elements to consider when choosing a door style is the need to comply with clear opening requirements. Currently, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards state, “doorways shall have a minimum clear opening of 32 in. (815 mm) with the door open 90 degrees, measured between the face of the door and the opposite stop.” While design teams can use traditional swing doors to meet this criteria, the nature of their swing path can prove problematic in space-restricted areas. Consider a cramped office or small bathroom. When the door is open, it can become difficult for occupants to maneuver around or through that workspace or bathroom.

One of the benefits of sliding door systems is they eliminate the space needed for a swing path, freeing up space and allowing for fluid, open pathways critical to those with limited mobility. And, even if the occupants don’t need access for a wheelchair, the extra space provided by the reduction of the swing path can help in small, cramped areas. Take AD Systems ExamSlide™ door, as an example. The space-saving design of this door saves up to 30 sq. ft. when compared to a swing door.

Sound Attenuation

Throughout history, swing doors have been the go-to option for spaces requiring a high level of sound attenuation, like exam rooms. The doors provided a tight perimeter seal their sliding counterparts simply could not replicate in the closed position. Without a tight perimeter, noise transferred through the small gaps between the sliding door system and the surrounding wall. Today, thanks to advances in acoustic jamb gaskets and drop-down bottom seal technology, this is a problem of the past. It is now possible to seal all four sides of a sliding door leaf, buffering these once leaky gaps and improving sound abatement properties. Sliding doors can now achieve NIC values on par with swing doors by sealing all four sides of the door leaf. Commercial sliding door options like AD Systems ExamSlide doors offer NIC values up to 39. This value exceeds the Facility Guidelines Institute’s (FGI) STC 35 goal for speech privacy in exam rooms.


With the increasing demand for customization across the building industry, commercial door manufacturers are constantly innovating the hardware they provide. One way they are meeting modern trends, yet still complying with ADA standards, is through improvements in sliding door hardware. As sliding doors have become popular in many more building and occupancy types, their hardware has evolved to include features such as key locks, privacy locks, self latching hardware, anti-ligature solutions and even access control integration and automation. No longer are designers relegated to second rate residential pocket door style hardware when it comes to sliders; they can now choose from a range of functional options to meet their project needs.


A considerable benefit of both commercial sliding and swing doors is that they can incorporate glass. Natural light filtration into a space through glass or other transparent materials, often referred to as daylighting, is proven to help occupant wellbeing. Recent studies show building occupants are happier and more productive in the workplace with the inclusion of natural light.

With this in mind, the use of a sliding glass door can combine the benefits of daylighting with the modern look and space-savings buildings often need. AD Systems specifically offers a few different options to help design professionals maximize daylighting. OfficeSlide™ doors, for example, combine high-performance sliding doors with durable glass to help brighten interiors and keep an open flow throughout a space. Since many offices choose to site collaboration spaces and private offices around the perimeter, this can prove essential in getting daylighting in the core areas of buildings where most occupants spend their days. Check out our case study on Coastal Community Bank for an an example of how such design intent was achieved.

A Step in the Right Direction

Including all the right elements into your door design to make sure a building is functional, yet stylish, can be challenging. However, taking into consideration the benefits of commercial sliding doors and how they can help a design is a step in the right direction. To learn more how AD Systems sliding doors can help you accomplish these goals click here.