Most people don’t think about which way a door should swing, unless it was installed wrong. After all, doors usually just work and you don’t need to think much about them. At Euroclad windows and doors, we spend a lot of time thinking about which way a door will swing, as it can greatly affect your home.
There are essentially four different ways you can install a door:
- Hinges on the left / Door swings outward.
- Hinges on the right / Door swings outward.
- Hinges on the left / Door swings inward.
- Hinges on the right / Door swings inward.
As you can see, for us, it really does matter which way a door will swing as there’s a 75% chance the hinges can be installed in the wrong place!
Does Building Code Specify Which Way A Door Should Swing?
The short answer is generally no, building code doesn’t specify which way your door should swing. However, this isn’t always the case, especially in areas with extreme weather, so you’ll want to check your local building codes to make sure you’re complying with any variations.
Generally speaking, what the door is made of (fire rating) and how it’s framed (structure) will be part of code, but the actual operation of the door won’t matter in a residential application. Commercial buildings are a little different as fire doors have certain requirements you’ll want to look into.
Which Way Should an Exterior Door Swing?
Traditionally exterior doors have always swung inward for a few different reasons, including security. Doors that swing inward will have hinges on the inside of your home, making them harder to access from outside. This is less important these days with security hinges widely available, but it’s still pretty customary to swing inward.
In harsh climates where tornadoes and hurricanes are common, exterior doors are often built to swing outward. An outward swinging door will have more stability for high wind events where there is a lot of exterior pressure pushing the door against the house. In Canada, these events aren’t as common, so you’ll almost always see exterior doors swing inward.
Some exterior doors, like doors that lead to a deck, balcony or patio, or sometimes french doors, may swing outward for a few reasons. Balcony doors on apartment buildings are a great example of doors that can swing either way. Generally, you want the door to swing in the least obtrusive way, and sometimes that’s outward if the door is in the middle of the room.
Which Way Should an Interior Door Swing?
Again, the traditional method is into the room that the door encases. However, this may vary if the room is cramped, or if the door obstructs the room. The overwhelming majority of interior doors will swing inward.
Pocket doors have become a lot more common to help solve any problem with doors obstructing space, and a great example is the walk in closet. If you have a small walk in closet in your master bath or master bedroom and the door were to swing inward, it would block your clothes unless you close the door leaving you in a small uncomfortable room.
If the walk in closet door were to swing outward, it may take up a majority of your bathroom, or block of a walking path around your bed. Pocket doors are the perfect solution when it’s not convenient to swing either way.
How Should You Install Your Doors?
Since there really aren’t many rules, you can pretty much do as you like here. However, the best way to install a door is the way that makes the most sense for the flow of the home. You don’t want to install your doors in a way which is uncomfortable for you or your guests. As yourself which direction won’t obstruct common paths and areas, and which way will keep the door out of the way when open.
If you have any questions about door placement, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us. We know it’s not something everyone may think about, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction!