Two of the aspects of buying a door that get confusing: door handing and inswing/outswing. Homeowners often find these terms intimidating, and to make matters worse, there is no industry standard (other companies use terms like "right hand reverse" instead of "right hand outswing). So here is a guide to understanding what these terms mean, and how to choose the best combination for your door.
What is a right-hand vs. left-hand door?
This terminology is confusing! The simplest way to figure this out is to stand in the door opening with your back to where the hinges are. If the door opens to your right hand side, it's a right hand door. If it opens to your left, it is a left hand door.
What is inswing vs. outswing?
This refers to the direction the door swings when opened. An inswing door swings into the room or house, while an outswing door swings out of the room or house.
Depending on the layout of the home or room, an inswing door might take up valuable floor space inside, and this is especially the case in corners or hallways with cabinet doors or other storage space. Meanwhile an exterior outswing door might interfere with things like pathways, patios, or landscaping. Here's a handy drawing to help you visualize the different inswing/outswing and door handing combinations for entry doors.
Is an inswing entry door or outswing entry door better for security?
You might imagine that outswing doors are more secure against break-ins since it's harder to kick them in. However, the hinges for outswing doors are on the outside, which can be a potential security risk unless security pins or non-removable hinge pins are used. Inswing entry doors are more secure overall, which is why we recommend them.
Which door swing direction is better for guarding against extreme weather?
For homes in areas prone to severe weather, like hurricanes, outswing doors might be preferred since they can better resist wind force pushing against them. However, the threshold and sealing for outswing doors need to be designed well to prevent water damage. A white oak threshold like the ones we use for our doors prevents water damage because it's smooth, so water can run off of it rather than pooling underneath the door and seeping into the door jamb.
A Note About Building Codes and Regulations
Some local building codes have regulations on door swing directions, especially for exterior doors, due to safety and emergency egress concerns. Check your local building codes before replacing an entry door.
We made a quick little explainer video with demonstrations for both concepts. This way you can order a door online with confidence!
Watch the video here: