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Does the Direction that Doors Swing Matter?

Have you ever opened a door and thought about the convenience of the direction the door swings? While it may not be something everyone thinks about as they enter and exit, the direction of the door swing can make a difference.

You can determine whether a door swings in or out and left or right by looking at the hinges instead of the handle.

Safety Precautions

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, doors should open with the flow of traffic to allow for easy operation and to keep halls from becoming too packed to open in case of a fire. This specification makes sense, as people in a state of panic are less likely to be keeping an eye out for the hinges on the sides of any doors they encounter. 

For a typical exterior door such as the front door to a home, having a door that swings inwards is easier for firefighters to knock the door in to enter in case of a fire emergency. The same is true for business doors.

Having a quick way for first responders to get in and the family to get out in the event of an emergency is an important consideration when hanging the door.

For a building that holds more than 50 people, OSHA regulations require an exit door to swing outward towards the exit of a building. If there are push bars on the emergency door, it must be unlocked and free of any blocks.

Interior Doors

A common practice for interior doors is to swing into the room, but have you ever wondered why that is? There are many reasons for door operations going in or out, such as the safety precautions as well as the size of a room.

When a hallway leads down to a door, having the door swinging into the hallway does not make as much sense, either space-wise or when exiting the room in case of an emergency.

Closet Doors

For small spaces such as closets, having them open outwards allows for more space inside the closet without having a door in the way of seeing what’s inside. Most interior doors are simple wooden doors and can be made with fire resistance for increased safety.

Another common reason for having closet doors open outwards is in case someone were to go into the closet and get stuck. This design will allow anyone inside the closet to push the closet door outwards to escape if necessary. A janitor’s closet or small storage closet are good examples of this philosophy.

Small Rooms

Having a door placed in a smaller room such as a small bathroom or office can affect how the size of the room feels. For example, if a bathroom is already smaller and feels tight, having a door that swings into it can make it feel even smaller.

A walk-in closet is another small room that can benefit from a door swinging in the right direction. Whether it’s inside the bathroom or bedroom, an outward swinging door can make a walk-in closet feel more spacious.

Space gets limited by clothes, shoes, and storage needs inside a closet. If a door swings into the closet, it can obstruct the full use of the space. If the door swings inward, you would have to close the door to see everything inside. In this case, it doesn’t make sense for the door to swing inward.

Exterior Doors

In a typical building, there are at least two doors to come in and out. Depending on the maximum capacity allowed and fire regulations, there may be more. These exterior doors often open according to these regulations.

For a home, one reason for having the front door open into the building is for a more inviting and welcoming experience for visitors. When a door swings into the home, it gives guests the feeling that they are being invited in.

For places with high winds where hurricanes and tornadoes are more common, having an exterior door that opens outwards can be more secure when heavy winds create increased pressure on the outside of the door.

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