A Comprehensive Guide to Elevator Door Types

Elevator doors are one of the hardest working parts of your elevator. Did you know the average elevator opens and closes 200,000 times per year?

Every time the elevator stops at a floor, the elevator entrance and door need to open and close efficiently, smoothly and safely. In fact, over 70% of all elevator trouble calls are related to the door operation.

Beyond their essential functionality, they play a key aesthetic design role since elevator entrances are the first thing your passengers see when they get to your elevators in the hallway.

So how do you decide on the perfect elevator door type that combines function, design and safety for your building?

This guide will walk you through the different elevator door types, their key features and what to consider when picking your elevator entrances.

Table of Contents

The History of Elevator Doors

The modern elevator door is the product of approximately 75 years of refinement and fine-tuning. They’re now expected in most buildings as they provide a sense of safety and efficiency for passengers.

During the 19th-century, elevator doors included both the doors and inside gates. Manual doors were operated by the guests in the elevator.

Today, automatic doors offer more features including obstacle detection, pressure, traffic and motion sensors, speed controls, live-feed cameras and more. They provide you with an elegant and future-proof movement and are safe and secure.

How Elevator Doors Work

Elevator doors are some of the busiest parts of the elevator. Every time an elevator stops at a floor, a car door and hatch door need to open and close efficiently. But, more happens behind closed doors that we don’t see. 

An electric impulse is sent from the elevator controller (the brain behind the elevator) that causes the doors to open and close when the car is safely at the floor. All elevator door operation is mechanical. 

Elevators use two different sets of doors: doors on the cars and doors opening into the elevator shaft. The doors on the cars are operated by an electric motor, which is hooked up to the elevator controller.

The electric motor turns a wheel, which is attached to a long metal arm. The metal arm is linked to another arm, which is attached to the door. The door can slide back and forth on a metal rail.

Alternatively, a linear drive that can be used which is driven by a belt. This streamlines and simplifies installation by integrating the operator on the header. 

Since there are dozens of moving parts that make up elevator doors, routine maintenance is the key to keeping them in good shape.

Elevator Door Configurations

There are many design and structural elements that go into elevator entrances and doors. Door orientation options offer a range of benefits depending what your building needs.

Below is a breakdown of elevator door configurations:


  • Most economical 
  • Minimal moving parts
  • Single-slide entrances, either on left or right of the elevator
  • Slide door needs twice its width to open fully
Single Speed Passenger elevator
Passenger elevator by elevator manufacturer and company


  • Faster opening speeds and wider opening
  • Two doors slide in the same direction, one moving faster than the other
  • Space-efficient option since it requires roughly 1.5x the space that the total door width takes up

Single-speed center opening

  • Use two door panels, but with single-speed. 
  • Doors open from the center 
  • Door panels travel to and from the midpoint of the opening
Single Speed Center Opening Passenger elevator
Elevator manufacturer for passenger and freight elevators

2-speed center opening

  • Faster opening and closing cycles compared to the single-speed center opening
  • Saves boarding time for guests
  • Door panels travel to and from the midpoint of the opening

Different Elevator Door Types

Choosing the perfect elevator doors requires expert understanding of the building and the purpose of your elevator. From there, you can decide which doors will suit yours and the users’ needs. 

1. Side Sliding

Automatic sliding doors offer a smooth open and close for easy access by opening towards the right or left. It’s one of the most common elevator door types in North America. This type of elevator door is highly efficient operation-wise.

Best installed in: Side sliding elevator doors are the most common and can be installed in any passenger elevator that can accommodate them. They can be found in most places including parking lots, older residential buildings, small businesses and more.

2. Center parting

Center parting elevator doors are another wide-spread type of entrance. They incorporate two or more door panels that work together to protect a hoistway opening. Unlike side sliding doors, center-parting entrance door panels move in opposite directions from each other. These types of elevator doors employ faster door-open-and-close cycles. The door panels only travel to and from the midpoint of the opening, which saves boarding time for passengers.

Best installed in: Center parting 2 speed doors are best installed in high-traffic high-rises like offices and condos. 

Elevator Entrance and Door Frame Styles

Other than the main entryway, the most important doorways are elevator entrances and doors frames found in the lobby. These areas have some of the highest foot traffic in buildings, so make it count. 

When it comes to choosing elevator entrances and door frame styles, you have a few options to pick from:

1. Glass

Glass elevator entrances most commonly come in full or partial glass (with or without a frame). Glass doors are useful for security purposes and can help prevent crime and vandalism. You can typically find them in hotels, shopping malls, subway stations, airports and more. 

2. Decorative stainless steel

Decorative stainless steel entrances come in a variety of textures and patterns. If you decide to go with this option, you can get your logo custom-etched on the front of your elevator door. Many retail spaces and office buildings do this to promote their company. 

3. Plain stainless steel

Stainless steel options are a great way to carry a design across a building or property. You can also use elevator skins that come in different materials, finishes and patterns for your stainless steel doors. 

Choosing the Right Elevator Door Type

Picking the right elevator entrance and door is essential for building cohesion and the passenger journey. There are a few things to consider before choosing one right off the bat. 

Since the beginning of elevators, safety has always been the number one priority. If you’re in need of new doors due to previous damage, that’s a good place to start. Keep in mind that your elevators doors will need to be the same size and type as the ones you’re replacing.

Next, consider the purpose of your building and how much foot traffic it gets, its aesthetic and space. With this information, you can determine what type of elevator doors you need. It’s important to consider your elevator’s environment because first impressions are key in maintaining future business.

About AVT Beckett Elevator Doors and Entrances

At AVT Beckett, our wide range of elevator components and products includes both stock and custom elevator doors and entrances. All  our entrances and hoistway doors are UL 1 ½ hour fire rated. Not only do we offer standard finishes as well as custom etched designs and non-standard sizes, but we lead the industry in fast installation times. Our no tape-measure required (NTR) entrances can be assembled in under 8 minutes.

If you need specific elevator door solutions for your building, AVT Beckett has the expertise and quality you can depend on. As a leading elevator manufacturer and supplier, AVT Beckett can supply your entrance or doors.

Choosing the perfect elevator system requires expert understanding of the building structure and intended elevator usage. Accessing needs and discussing your options with elevator experts are the first steps to finding out which systems will work best for you. 

If you need an elevator solution for your building, AVT Beckett has expertise and quality you can depend on. As a leading elevator manufacturer and supplier, AVT Beckett can find the right elevator for your unique scenario.