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What Does Door Handing Mean?

Man choosing between two doors

If you’re in need of quality commercial doors, then you might have come across the term “door handing.” However, you might not know what exactly that term means. Door handing refers to the way that a door swings when opened, and it’s a critical factor to choose properly when selecting a new door.

Understanding Door Handing

Defining exactly what a left-hand door or right-hand door means can be tricky because doors can be approached from two directions. This reality makes mixing up left and right incredibly easy, so it’s always important to consider which direction you’re approaching a door from.

When talking about door handing, the term “keyed side” is important. The keyed side of the door is the side from which you must use a key to enter. In the case of a front entrance, the keyed side is outside, and the other side is inside.

Along with defining the keyed side, we need to think about which way the door swings. Doors can swing either toward the keyed side or toward the inside. This swing direction isn’t a minor distinction, either. When designing a building, which way a door swings is an important matter for ensuring the building meets accessibility guidelines.

If you’re standing on the keyed side of a door, determining the handing of the door is relatively simple. You can just look at the side of the door where the hinges are. Doors with hinges on the left are left-hand doors. Doors with hinges on the right are right-hand doors.

Some people mix this simple process up because they think of the handle instead of the hinges. While this is an easy mistake to make, it will result in choosing the opposite type of door from what you really need.

Reverse Doors

When choosing the right commercial door, you also need to consider whether it is a reverse door. This distinction has to do with the way that the door swings open. Again, we’ll be looking at this from the perspective of the keyed side of the door, where you are outside of the room or building.

If a door swings into the building and away from the keyed side when you open the door, then this is just a standard door. However, if the door swings outward into the keyed side when opened, it is a reverse door.

Both standard and reverse doors can be either left-hand or right-hand, and both of these elements are important to know when choosing the correct door. Reverse doors are often required by fire codes to prevent people from holding the doors shut in case of excess crowding and panic.

Handing for Double Doors

The previous information concerns single doors, but double doors are also a common choice for businesses. Handing can be a bit more complicated when you're considering double doors, but it still isn’t too difficult to understand.

To understand handing for double doors, we need to define the “active leaf” and “inactive leaf.” The active leaf is the door panel that contains the locking hardware, while the inactive leaf doesn’t and can only be opened when the other leaf is open.

The handing of the door will depend on the active leaf. If the hinges are on the left of the active leaf when standing on the keyed side, then it is a left-hand door. If the hinges are on the right, it is a right-hand door. The same rules for standard and reverse doors apply here as well.

Pay Close Attention to Handing to Avoid Problems

If you order a door with the wrong handing, it simply will not fit. You would have to flip the door upside down, and even then, hinge heights, lever height, and other important components wouldn’t line up properly. The only move to make is to return and replace the door, which may not be an option for custom doors.

Instead, make sure to carefully understand handing and double or triple-check before placing your order. Handing also matters when purchasing many types of accessories, including levers, door closers, and more.

The Right Door for Your Needs

CDF Distributors provides a wide selection of doors available in the specific handing you need. We can walk you through the selection process to ensure that you get exactly what you’re looking for. You can contact CDF Distributors today to get your quote.

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