Commercial vs. Residential: Not All Door Hardware is Made the Same

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

One of the biggest requirements that our clients have is their employee and customer safety. This goes hand in hand with the door hardware that is being used. I am going to compare two things in this article; Commercial Grade Hardware vs Residential Grade Hardware and Grade 1 Hardware vs Grade 2 Hardware. All have their proper applications and it’s important to understand when and where they should be used.

Commercial Grade Hardware vs. Residential Grade Hardware

Commercial vs. Residential: Not All Door Hardware is Made the SameCommercial grade hardware is built to withstand areas with higher amounts of traffic than residential buildings require. Essentially what you put on your home isn’t the same as what goes on the front door of a highly used commercial space. Along with commercial hardware being heavier duty,  most commercial buildings have specific requirements when it comes to meeting certain specifications such as UL Listings, ADA compliance, or other life safety conditions.

Residential hardware is made for homes where they won’t get as much wear and tear. Some businesses have used residential hardware in their spaces, but this causes several issues.

1) Warranties by the manufacturer of the residential hardware can be voided because it’s installed in a commercial space.
2) They won’t hold up and will need to be replaced frequently.
3) They don’t meet the life safety requirements of many commercial buildings.

Installing the correct hardware on commercial buildings is incredibly important. The hardware lasts longer, helps with safety and security, and keeps you in compliance.

Grade 1 Lock Grade 2 Lock

Grade 1 Hardware vs. Grade 2 Hardware

When you dig deeper into commercial grade hardware, there are two levels you really want to look at: Grade 1 and Grade 2.

Grade 1 hardware not only meets building requirements for commercial spaces, but it also provides a higher level of security, withstands heavy usage and helps guard against vandalism. Grade 1 hardware can be used anywhere but on exterior openings. They can also be used in doors that protect rooms containing items of high value like IT closets.

Grade 2 door hardware meets light commercial requirements and is a level above residential door hardware. These locks are great for offices, closets and other applications that don’t require heavy usage. Grade 2 hardware is more economical compared to Grade 1, but will last longer than residential hardware.

When selecting the grade of hardware for your facility, your choices may vary from door to door. The type of usage and other factors play into these decisions. It is extremely important to understand where the different grades make good choices. If you have any questions, please reach out to Kenton Brothers so we can help with your facility needs!

Which ADA Operator is right for my business?

Which ADA Operator is right for my business?By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

An ADA Operator is a device that you install on a door to make it suitable for people who need help opening and holding open a door. ADA Operators come in many styles, offerings, and sizes to help meet the needs of a facilities openings. Operators can be integrated to work with a company’s access control platform and can be set to work on specific schedules.

The question becomes which ADA Operator is right for my business?

First let’s discuss some of the common type of ADA Operators.

Low-Energy Operators, Power-Assist Operators, and Full Power Operators are some of the most common types. Each of these Operators are made for a specific purpose:

Low-Energy Operator

A Low-Energy operator allows users of all types of mobility to select either manual operation or automatic operation of the door.

Power-Assist Operator

A Power-Assist Operator uses a motor driven mechanism inside the device to open and close the door, it senses the presence of a person trying to open the door and assists them in doing so.

Full-Power Operator

Full-Power (Or Energy) Operators use more energy to quickly open the doors with a higher amount of force. They use sensors, guide rails, have variable closing speeds, and other internal tools to help at the opening.

Which ADA Operator is right for my business? Which ADA Operator is right for my business?

Access Control Integration and ADA Buttons

Which ADA Operator is right for my business?Next let’s discuss the integration of the operators.

Kenton Brothers installs hundreds of Operators each and every year, and a large portion of these are integrated with our customer’s access control platform. The benefits are simple: They can be controlled via schedules, they work in tandem with physical door hardware to keep your facility secure, they allow employees and or patrons with mobility issues to gain entry at correct times, and the operators become an integral part of the building design.

I also wanted to mention ADA buttons.

ADA buttons can be hardwired, wireless, and wave actuated. Button selection is determined by many things including wire paths available; do you want people touching the buttons or not, location of buttons, and aesthetics. Buttons also come in different sizes depending on the available space in the location where they will be installed.

If you have any questions regarding ADA Operators and how they can fit into your facility’s safety and security methods, please contact one of our security consultants to learn more.

Commercial Safe Drilling Services are a Dying Art. We’ve Got You Covered

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

Commercial Safe DrillingSafes are made to keep items secure and for the most part they do a really good job, sometimes too good a job. When safe locks fail, get tampered with, and can’t be unlocked, you have a few options.

One option is having a certified and trained safe professional try to manipulate and open it using a variety of techniques. Second, depending on the type of safe, you can cut the hinges or bolts. And third, you can perform a drilling process. Using the drilling technique can take hours to even days, especially if it is a GSA high security safe.

There are preventative measures you can take to try and help avoid a safe lock from failing:

  • Preventative maintenance. Having a certified professional come on site to perform quarterly or yearly maintenance. They can assess how the safe is operating, provide proper testing, apply proper mechanical lubricants, and advise of any issues before a lock fully fails. Sometimes, locks just fail… but at Kenton Brothers we have seen time and time again preventative maintenance extending the life of the locks. This helps our clients get ahead of any potential issues with their safe(s) which helps financially in the long run.
  • Do not use WD-40 on locks. WD-40 will do more damage to your safe lock than helping it. If you want to apply the right lubricant, please contact Kenton Brothers and we would be happy to sell you the correct products to use on your safe.
  • Use the right locks for the right applications. This is a consistent issue. Our techs go on site and find safe locks that are not the correct rating, or not the right application, for their use requirements. Depending on the nature of your business, or what you are storing in the safe, there are certain requirements from a government level (GSA) that have to be met by law. We are obligated to report these situations when we find them. There are two options to resolve this situation: 1) Provide pricing to bring the safe up to standard or 2) Strip the safe of its certifications and fill out appropriate paperwork.
  • Always keep track of your safe combinations in a safe/secure location. This is an easy way to avoid service calls.
  • Make sure the company you are hiring to work on your safe/safe locks is certified. Your security provider must have experience with safe locks. Just because they are a mechanical locksmith does not mean they are certified to work on safe locks. Unauthorized fixes or attempts to fix can void warranties and cause damage to the equipment.

Commercial Safe Drilling Commercial Safe Drilling Commercial Safe Drilling

A real world story about why this matters.

Recently, we received a service call about a high security safe that was not opening. When our technician arrived on site, he found seven GSA Red Label containers. All seven had the wrong locks on them. (Remember, we are required to report these types of infractions.) We provided our customer with two options: replace all the safe locks or strip them of their certifications. The customer chose to bring one of their safes up to code and strip the rest. This was an expensive process for the customer because we had to drill one of the safes and supply the correct lock, and then do a considerable amount of government related paperwork.

Our customer could have avoided the expense of fixing incorrect locks if they had reached out to a certified GSA company when installing the containers in the first place. We would have advised them on the proper procedures and protocols. They wouldn’t have had to make the decision to decertify six expensive safes. The moral of the story is that hiring certified professionals to work on your safes may be more expensive initially, but in the long run it will be worth the investment!

We have been fortunate to work on safes of every size and level of security.

We have three GSA certified, trained, and continually educated technicians on our team. Let Kenton Brothers be the partner who keeps your safes operating correctly (or allow us to open them when you can’t!)

To schedule service of your safe please give us a call or email

Organizations Facing Large Rekey Projects

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

Large Rekey ProjectsIn a company or organization, it’s up to the organizational leaders to make sure that their people, property and possessions are kept safe and secure. Part of the strategy relies on the keying method used in the building(s). Kenton Brothers has been helping companies with large rekey projects since 1897.

So where does a company start when it comes to large rekey projects? What details are needed? How can they secure buildings and maintain control when handing out keys? Are there different levels of restricted cylinders to help secure the facility? All of these questions and more will be answered as we dive into large rekey projects.

The Rekey Plan

Everything starts with a plan, and it should be a plan that has the end goal in mind. Part of a rekey plan is an evaluation of many things including who should have access, what type of keys should be issued to employees and which keys should not, how should the key system be structured, how do you mitigate liability if a key is lost, how can keys be organized and how do we track who we issued keys to? What level of restriction should you have on the keys and cylinders? Will existing door hardware work or does it need to be switched out?

Large Rekey ProjectsSetting up a master key system for one large facility, a campus environment with multiple buildings, or even a scenario where there are different buildings across the country can all be handled by setting up a master key system that allows for growth/expansion and the flexibility within that system to do so.

A site survey(s) should be done by the company hired for the large rekey project. (Hopefully, that would be our team at Kenton Brothers!) From there, several meetings should occur to discuss the set up of the master key system, discuss the level of security you want with the keys/cylinders and set expectations for the rekey itself.

Organization of the physical keys, cores and additional information can come in many forms, but the three most common we see are:

1) The customer purchases a key management software system. (We have a great recommendation if you are looking…) and manages it themselves
2) Kenton Brothers manages the key system through our software and we handle any change requests
3) The keying system is a factory-maintained system (which comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.)

Once the planning stages have been completed, you will move on to the next step of the process… waiting for parts.

The Waiting Game

Large Rekey ProjectsSo now that a master key system has been agreed upon, pricing approved, and materials are on order, what are the next steps? At this point, you will have chosen the path of how you will manage your key system; either internally or through a company such as Kenton Brothers. 80% of the effectiveness of the new keying system is in maintaining control of the keys!

One of the big things to prepare for is communication to the employees and staff who will be issued new keys. You will want to communicate that this is coming, when it’s happening, set up strict instructions on checking out keys, reporting lost keys and what to do if you find a key laying around.

From the start, it’s important that clear expectations are set because keys are such an integral part of your security plan. You will also be in weekly or bi-weekly contact with a Project Manager dedicated to your project for  planning, when the product will arrive, any last-minute questions, and any pre-install meetings before the installation begins.

The Install

The install itself will begin with a Project Manager (PM) introducing you to the technicians who will be working on the project. The PM makes sure that once on site, the techs have clear expectations of their daily goals, know the location of material being stored onsite (if applicable), and any other project related questions they might have. Then the work begins!

The PM is the point of contact for the project. They need to keep everyone up to date, share milestones that have been completed and work through punch list items as the project progresses. Once the project is complete, there will be a final walk through. When the project is deemed complete as compared to the scope of work, a warranty form should be completed and signed.

Once the project is finished, there will be several documents that need to be delivered by the PM for records. Those documents include the following: A fully completed warranty activation form, any maps/plans used during the project fully marked up to show how things were keyed or installed, keying records if requested, and any other documents deemed necessary for the project.


Large Rekey Projects can be stressful, take time and require a lot of planning. That said, the end result is worth it.

You now have complete key control over the building(s) that you oversee. You have taken a major step to protect the property, possessions, and people who work/live within the buildings, and you have a plan moving forward that is sustainable and mitigates liability.

If your organization is considering a rekey project and you don’t have a company you trust helping you, please give us a call. We’ve helped thousands of companies over the years with large rekey projects, allowing them to take back control of their security. Get back your peace of mind!

Key Control: Proper Ways of Securing Keys and Accountability

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

Key ControlIn several of my blog posts, I have spoken about Key Control, setting up Master Keys systems, accountability of managing keys, and more. What I want to introduce today are the different ways to actually secure and track keys within your facility… physically and through software.

The first topic is how to physically secure keys at your facility.

There are several options out there, including standard key cabinets. There are also intelligent key cabinets such as the one pictured below. Here at Kenton Brothers, we sell and support both options and both options have a place within physical key security.

The most obvious pro for a standard key cabinet is the price. Standard boxes will have a lock, but will always require a paper trail of who has the keys. (The typical procedure is a clipboard managed by someone.)  Typically, companies require another employee to always be there when someone else accesses the box.

Intelligent key cabinets are expensive, but they provide an audit trail. Intelligent key cabinets only allow users who have a card and/or a code to get into the box. This provides another layer of security for key control. This enforces the goal of users having access to the right keys. Reports can be generated to see who has keys that are missing or who used what keys and when.

Every facility has different needs and different requirements. Kenton Brothers will help you choose the best option for physical key security.

Key Control Cabinet

The second topic is securing keys through software.

At Kenton Brothers, we utilize and sell a software program called SimpleK.

SimpleK allows the person administering keys for your company to be as high level or as granular as they want with the information to be captured. When a key is handed out, you can capture information like the following:

  • Name of the person receiving the key
  • The code of the key
  • What doors the keys can open
  • If they are supposed to return the key by a certain date
  • What hardware is on a given door
  • What department the key belongs to

SimpleK captures that data and much more.

If an employee leaves, you have an account of what keys they have. If they don’t return the keys, you know exactly what doors are exposed and the potential threat. You can use the software to track one facility, or if your company has multiple buildings, you can track other sites as well. At any given time you know who has what keys, when they were issued, what doors they’re supposed to be able to open, and what doors they’re not supposed to have access to. This concept is part of a master key plan detailed in a past blog post I wrote called, “What is a ‘Master Key System’ and why should I care?

SimpleK Key Control Software

Securing Keys in Your Facility

Securing keys in your facility is something that should be at the forefront of the security plan when handing out keys. As mentioned above, you can do this in many ways. You always want to know what keys have been handed out, who has them, and if any of them are missing. The options I’ve outlined will allow you to bring stronger security to your facility and let your employees know that you’re taking key security seriously. This directly impacts their safety!

Let Kenton Brothers, a company with 125 years of experience providing locksmith services, help you decide what type of key security is right for your facility. Give us a call!