Approved Document M

Approved Documents are issued by the Secretary of State to provide guidance on how to meet building regulations. Section M provides information about the ease of access to and use of buildings, including facilities for disabled visitors or occupants, and the ability to move through a building easily.

Specifying Doors to meet 'Approved Document M'

Document M is separated into two volumes; each volume has been adapted for different building types and structures. Volume 1 address dwellings and Volume 2 addresses newly constructed non-domestic buildings, including extensions or material alterations.

When specifying doors, it is essential to consider the ‘Approved Document M’ requirements. Outlined below, you will find the document’s referring areas that affect the door’s construction.

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Door Clear Opening Widths

According to ‘Approved Document, the effective clear width of a door “…is the width of the opening measured at right angles to the wall in which the door is situated from the outside of the doorstop on the door closing side to any obstruction on the hinge side, whether this be projecting door opening furniture, a weatherboard, the door or the doorstop.”

The minimum allowable clear opening widths for dwellings are outlined below:

Direction & Width
of approach
New Buildings
Existing Buildings
Straight-on (without a turn)
At right angles to an access
route at least 150mm wide
At right angles to an access
route at least 1200mm wide
External doors to buildings
used by the general public

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Visibility Requirements

Glazing Apertures can be introduced to provide an aesthetically pleasing and functional solution for safety and visibility (i.e. allowing people using the door to be seen). The positioning of the vision panels enables a person or wheelchair user (when approaching a door) to see and be seen by, another other person approaching from the other side.

Approved Document M requires that doors have a minimum zone(s) of visibility in certain situations.

All entrance doors; including doors situated in corridors and lobbies require vision panels for door leaves and side panels wider than 450mm.

Entrance and lobby doors, other than those to dwellings should have viewing panels to alert people approaching a door on the other side.

If a door has a single viewing panel, the minimum zone of visibility should be between 500 mm and 1500 mm from the floor.

If a door requires an intermediate horizontal section for strength or to accommodate door furniture, the door should have two viewing panels. One to accommodate a zone of visibility between 500 mm and 800 mm from the floor. The other accommodating a zone of visibility between 1150 mm and 1500 mm from the floor.

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Want to know how to calculate the clear opening width?

Fire Doors in Office Setting

Visual Contrast

In Accordance with Document M, all doors and frames should offer a sufficient contrast with each other and surrounding walls to be easily visible when closed.

One recommendation is that building elements are visually distinguishable from another by the difference in Light Reflectance Value (LRV).

To ensure materials contrast their Light Reflectance Value (LRVs) can be calculated, make sure their values differ.

For example:

Light Reflectance Value (LRV)
Door opening furniture
Contrast with the door’s surface by 15 LRV points.
The door frame
Contrast with the surrounding wall by 30 LRV points

Please contact us, for assistance to ensure LRVs requirements are met. Contact us

Opening Forces

The force required to open a door should be kept to a minimum, particularly where door closing devices are installed. Less abled people may not open the door if the closer is too strong or heavy. Therefore, installing a powered door closer can provide a suitable solution for all to benefit from.

door closer is a hydraulic device that automatically closes a door after it has been opened, requiring very little force to use. The door closer must close the door from any angle and against any latch, whilst also adhering to Approved Document M’s requirements.

Opening forces at the leading edge of the door should not exceed the following values:

  • Less than 30N between 0 and 30 degrees.
  • Less than 22.5N between 30 to 60 degrees.


For further assistance on door closer efficiency, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Door Opening Forces
Direction of Door Opening

Visual Contrast

threshold is a strip of wood, stone metal etc. that forms the bottom of a doorway, crossed when entering a building or a room.  A threshold can be problematic for visually impaired or less able.

To meet the requirements outlined in BS8300, thresholds should preferably be level.

However, this can create difficulties preventing water penetration or air infiltration through a doorway from the outside.

In these cases, the threshold should have a total height of not more than 15mm, a minimum number of upstands and slopes and with any upstands higher than 5mm chamfered.