What is a pivot door?

A detailed guide for makers and designers

In-depth 12 May 2021

A pivot door is a swinging door that rotates on a vertical axis, a spindle. This is different from regular hinged doors, where the hinges are attached to the side of the door and the adjacent wall. Learn about the origin, future, and limitless design possibilities of pivot doors.

Even though the pivot door is as old as centuries are long there are still many people who never experienced or seen one. Or maybe they have but didn’t know what it was exactly.

Luckily, FritsJurgens knows pivot doors like the ocean knows salt, and we are here to give you some valuable insights to this ‘most beautiful of all doors.’ And that is not just us talking.

The difference between a pivot door and a regular hinged door.

Origin of the pivot door

To know the origin of the pivot door we must travel a long way back in time. To ancient Persepolis to be exact. Here, various pivot doors were used, and later found, in the Gate of All Nations. An impressive hall-like structure constructed for Achaemenid king Xerxes I, between 486 and 465 BC. These early pivot doors rotated in holes in the sill and lintel. A bit old school but for that time highly effective.

One of the sockets that were found in the ancient city of Persepolis, modern Iran, was used for the bottom pivot of an ancient pivoting portal.

Another striking example is the stone doors in Hampi, India. Here we can see the same rotating construct as with the Gate of All Nations. What these two also have in common is the sheer size of them. Proving that pivot doors can be massive. A lesson we have taken to heart when creating our own pivot door hinges.

But size does not always matter, because the pivot door was at the same time used in slightly more modest executions. Like in wooden doors for propriety residences, as shown in image 1.3. Same functionality and quality; smaller application.  

Two massive stone pivot doors in Hampi, India, where the spindles are still clearly visible. Image courtesy of Shriram Swaminathan
An old pivot door where the vertical axis in the sill and lintel are clearly visible

What components make up a pivot door?

If we look at the pivot door more closely, there are a couple of things that attract our attention. There is the door, bottom pivot, top pivot, floor plate and ceiling plate. Contrary to ancient pivot doors, the modern variety does not rotate on an extension of the vertical axis but on a bottom pivot, which is the ‘engine’ of the pivot system, and a top pivot.

In older models, pivot doors operated on a floor spring, that needed to be installed into the floor, up to 20 cm deep. This made installation and coordination difficult, leading up to being scrapped from the spec list.

We learned a great deal and started to improve on the idea. Now, our system is fully mortised into the door itself. No structural elements are required, rendering them nearly invisible. This gave birth to the iconic phrase: ‘It’s in the door, not the floor.’

Many architects we work with find this aesthetic feature an important part of choosing FritsJurgens. Aside from the ample carrying capacity and seamless functionality, of course.

Pivot hinge inside pivot door x-ray
The components of a pivot hinge

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What’s the advantage of a pivot door?

The benefits a pivot door provides are countless. One of them is straightforward, almost banal, and that is: beauty. A pivot door is simply more beautiful than a regular door. It has a certain panache, a certain grace that a regular door lacks. An open pivot is fully detached from the surroundings. The door forms an architectural element, where the spatial impact can be determined with just the touch of a finger.

he unique closing movement of a pivot door

Furthermore, there is the movement. It is smooth, effortless, elegant. When you open or close a pivot door the sheer flow of it does something to you. People often say it makes them feel good. And we concur.

This good feeling has a lot to do with the smooth movement but also with the tail of the pivot door. The tail is the smaller part on the opposite side of the hinge that swings inward when the door moves outward and vice versa.

6-meter-tall entrance pivot door with FritsJurgens System M pivot hinge
© Designed by Gavin Maddock

But besides the beauty, movement and the signature tail, another advantage is that pivot doors come in a great variety of sizes. Sometimes even 10 meters high and 4 meters wide.

Also, the weight can go up to about 500 kg. In comparison to the regular door, where the entire weight is suspended on a single frame, the pivot door distributes the weight more evenly. This is because the pivot hinge becomes an intricate part of the door, floor and ceiling.

Close up of a FritsJurgens floor plate

As we already said, the advantages are countless. One of the most important ones for our clients is that the door can be made of almost every material imaginable. Think glass, marble, metal, steel, oak, gold, silver, etc.

If they can imagine it, they can have it.

Marble pivot door in a marble bathroom – Designed by Exceptis Interior Design

An advantage that we bring, is that our pivot hinge hardware is nearly invisible. Putting all the focus on the main attraction: the door. Needless to say, this goes down very well with our clients, who more often than not design with minimal aesthetics in mind.

What’s more, a pivot door is suitable for both exteriors as interiors. From grand entrances and hallways to bathroom doors, pivoting walls, double doors, cupboard doors, even windows. Same as with the other advantages, there is no limit to the possibilities.

Here are more benefits that we’ll lightly touch on. A pivot door sporting our hardware is easy to install in both new and existing situations. Mount the floor plate and ceiling plate 8 mm deep, set the spindle in the right angle and lift the door into place and it’s done. A professional installer does it in less than 30 minutes, depending on the weight of the door, of course.

Installing a pivot door with FritsJurgens pivot hinges can be done quickly and easily

Pivot doors can be frameless. This is because the pivot hinge hardware is submerged within the door and in the floor and ceiling, without the need for structural elements.

The frameless nature of pivot doors also allows you to place multiple pivot doors side by side to create double doors or even pivoting walls.

What-is-a-pivot-door--Pivoting-wall-in-a-resort-in-Jakarta-designed-by-Linvisibile-by-Portarredo-1.jpg What-is-a-pivot-door--Pivoting-wall-in-a-resort-in-Jakarta-designed-by-Linvisibile-by-Portarredo-2.jpg

Pivot doors have the capacity to be double-acting. Of course, it depends on how the door is constructed. Depending on the desired functionalities, every pivot door can rotate 360°, 180° or just 90°.

It is a hands-free door. There are possibilities to add a door handle or latching bolt, but we notice that our clients prefer the hands-free modus. It gives the pivot door that little extra allure, especially for interior doors. Exterior doors are often provided with latching bolts to protect the interior from different weather conditions.

With our pivot hinges the door opens and closes with a mere touch of a finger, shoulder or hip.

A pivot door can be used hands-free

Commercial applications

The pivot door not only gives something extra to private homes and residencies. They are also perfect for commercial properties.

Just imagine what a big marble pivot door will do to an entrance of an office. The stunning experience it provides. Or a trendy bar where you divide eating areas with steel and glass framed pivot doors to add a little splendor that will never go unnoticed. Or even an interior pivot door leading to a trendy bar in a classy hotel.

In comparison to regular doors, a pivot door becomes a conversation piece. Not a mere entrance but an opening into something new and exciting. And that is just what you want with a commercial property. For people to notice it as something beautiful by adding some pivotal flavor into the mix.

How to install and extra features

Installing a pivot door with our pivot hinges is easy as one, two, three. And just as fast.

First, you mount the pivot system and top pivot inside the door. Then you install the floor plate just 8 mm into the floor. Or 30 mm if your floor is of a porous material or needs extra fixation. Then you install the ceiling plate. Finally, you lift the door into place and fine-tune its installation and movement.

See? Easy as one, two, three. But just to be on the safe side, let’s elaborate.

Mounting the pivot system and top pivot is a process that mostly depends on the door’s material. For wood, the modulations are milled into the door according to the milling manual [link to manual].

Working with the commonly used aluminium or steel, the systems are fitted into profiles. This also goes for other more unique materials, like gold or marble. Of course, we are always available for questions about the mounting and milling procedure.

After the doors are pre-processed, we prepare the location of the door with the floor and ceiling plate. The placement is calculated beforehand with laser guides to match the floor and ceiling plate perfectly.

After that is done, it is time to lift the door into place. The spindle in the door’s lower side is set into the opened position, with the help of the Axle Wrench, and then placed in the socket of the floor plate. Then, with the help of an Alan-key, the pin of the top is unscrewed and rises into the ceiling fixture to hold the door firmly into place.

Part of placement is the adjustment of the radial positioning and fine-tuning the closing seam, allowing for the door to perfect its grip. 

The last part is fine-tuning the movement. Our high-quality pivot hinges offer many ways to do this:

  • Adjustable and opening damping (wall protection or hydraulic back-check),

  • Adjustable closing speed

  • Latch Control, for extra closing force for doors with latching bolts.

  • Soft-close

  • Hold positions

The possibilities of these features are dependent on the type of pivot hinge system you choose.

If you need any information about this, please feel free to contact us or review our installation page.

FritsJurgens pivot door installation and System M mounting video

I want a pivot door—where do I start?

If you would like a pivot door, it is important to consider which type. Since practically everything is possible, we advise you to contact an architect or interior architect with experience in designing pivot doors. They can definitely help you.

There are also lots of professional pivot door manufacturers worldwide. Many have their specialities, such as timber doors or steel doors. If you already know what kind of pivot door you are looking for, they can help you choose the right one. But if you’re not sure, check these fantastic pivot door projects for some inspiration.

Remember that a pivot door is a long-term design investment. That means you need to choose wisely and always go for the highest quality. Just to prevent complicated maintenance or even malfunctioning. That goes double for the larger and heavier pivot doors.

If you need any assistance or are looking for the right partner for your project, FritsJurgens is always happy to help you. Feel free to contact us.

FritsJurgens also has an extensive network of trusted international; dealers and partners to find the right pivot door for you.

I want a pivot door

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