Do you know those windows over doorways? Those are called transom windows. A transom is a horizontal crossbar that separates the rest of the door from the window over it.

Transoms can be added to existing doors, or purchased as part of the door itself. We sell and install a huge variety of attractive transom doors for commercial buildings, where they provide a way for a building to be identified out from the street.

Transom Windows Help Businesses Identify Themselves

We get a lot of calls and emails asking us, “what is the window above a door called?” 

We know why — transom windows are one way for buildings to prominently display their addresses, which makes it easier for drivers to spot them from a distance. In South Florida traffic, this can mean the difference between arriving before or after an appointment!

Here are a couple of other reasons why businesses, particularly those that own their own buildings would want a transom:

  • It allows more natural light into a building lobby, even if the glass itself is tinted against the intense Florida sun. Well-lit lobbies are more inviting and allow the eyes to adjust more easily after leaving the bright outdoor sunshine. 
  • Transom windows add curb appeal. Normally, this is a homeowner concern, but many businesses like law and accounting firms, consultants, and architects invite clients to meet with them in their offices. A transom adds a reassuring, professional touch to complement those offices.

commercial door for a business

Windows Over Doorways Must Meet South Florida’s Hurricane-Proof Requirement

For most of the country, getting a new commercial door for a business isn’t a big deal. But here in South Florida, doors and windows in most businesses must meet strict building codes to withstand hurricane-force winds. You can see how adding a transom window could be another complication.

We were thrilled when the manufacturer we work with added transom window options to commercial doors. So rest assured, the commercial doors with transom we sell and install have passed the same projectile and strength tests required of all commercial and residential doors in South Florida.

Fire Doors Often Have Transoms

Our commercial door inventory includes fire doors for commercial buildings and multi-family housing that require them. Those that open to the outside are impact doors as well.

Many of our fire door customers ask for windows on them and technically, these are transoms as well. But unlike front lobby doors, fire door transoms are placed at eye level to help both firefighters and other first responders and the people evacuating a building. 

Fire doors always swing outward. Local building codes here also require entrance doors to homes and businesses to swing out as well to protect against wind, rain, and in the case of fire, smoke getting inside a stairwell or hallway.

Commercial Doors Do Not Have Transom Windows That Open (Operational Transoms)

We understand that transom windows are known for being able to open and shut. We do not recommend this option for commercial doors; in fact, many municipalities restrict “operating transoms” on at least some commercial properties because of the fire dangers they pose.

Transom windows on entrance doors that are left open can let in more than wind and rain: they can contribute to fire and smoke spreading rapidly within a building. People who live, work in, or manage legacy buildings that have existing operating transoms need to be careful to ensure they are kept closed, and to inform the local fire department that they exist — even if they have been sealed shut.