You’ve probably never taken notice of which way a door opens when you enter someone’s house. So, if you’re just starting to remodel your own, you’re probably stuck on whether the front door should swing left or right. The question goes for both swinging and sliding front doors, and we’re here to answer the question for you.
There is no definite rule that says your door should open left or right. It all depends on which way makes the door more mobile and functional, and whether it’s free of any obstructions. It will also depend on whether the frequent user is right-handed or left-handed—then, they’d most likely want something that feels comfortable to them.
Selecting the best option for you takes a few considerations. There are also ways you can change how the door opens if the one you have feels uncomfortable. If you want to learn more about this, keep reading below.
How To Tell if The Door Swings Right or Left
For exterior doors, one can tell where a door swings by its hinges viewed from the outside. Stand on the outer side of your door: If the hinges are on the left side, the door swings to the left. Conversely, if your hinges are attached on the right side, your door swings to the right.
The same logic applies to interior doors. The inside of your interior door is the room you’re about to go to, so make sure you stand on the other side of that.
Should sliding doors open left or right?
For ergonomic purposes, it is better to open sliding doors in the direction their handle lies. So, if your sliding door has a handle to the right, it should open on that side. If it has a left-sided handle, it ideally should be opened on the left side.
However, just like swinging doors, the way you open these doors is entirely up to your preference. They’re sliding doors, so you have more agency on how you want them to open since they can operate on either side.
Most doors—including sliding ones—cater to the majority, which is right-handed people, so most manufacturers design their doors as such. So if you’re a left-handed person, there’s no issue with opening your sliding door to the left.
How to Reverse Door Swing Direction
A door that swings in the direction of an obstructive object can make your entry and exit uncomfortable. It could be the result of poor layout planning, or maybe you’re just more comfortable with it swinging either to the left or right.
Here’s what you can do to reverse your door swing:
- Hammer away the pins and hinges from the door and place them on two sawhorses. After that, remove the door carefully.
- Unscrew the hinges from the wall.
- Fill the empty holes with wood dowels. Cut them to size, coat them with wood glue, then cover the holes with them. Let dry for a few minutes then chisel away the excess. Don’t forget to sand it after.
- Screw the door hinges on the opposite side.
- Now, get to the door itself. Rearrange the hardware by unscrewing each.
- The striker will need to fit the other way. Do this by unscrewing and flipping it upside down, securing tightly with a screw. Put the doorknob after using a screw, then do the same thing with the deadbolt.
- The door-sweep should face the opposite direction. Use a chisel to flip it, then stick using superglue.
- Note the measurements between the top of the door frame to the hinge mortises.
- Ensure appropriate depth using a combination square.
- Using a miter saw, shave down a scrap wood to a size that can patch up the old hinge mortises. Stick it with wood glue and brad nails. Sand down.
- Do the same thing for the striker and deadbolt mortises, then mortise the new hinges on the opposite side of the door.
- Once done, you can now attach the hinges using a drill and screw.
- Get the door and rehang it to position using the pins.
- Mark the striker and the deadbolt. Let the door frame have a similar mark by opening and closing the door.
- Drill out the mortises for the handle and the deadbolt.
- Attach the screw and striker to their position.
Watch it in action here:
Should Your Door Swing Inward or Outward?
As a rule, your door should avoid swinging in the direction of any object. If your front door swings where there’s a flight of stairs, it could be difficult to maneuver yourself and head out.
It is especially difficult if you live with small children, and you have to carry them while trying to squeeze yourself between the door swinging inward and the stairs.
Some areas of the house benefit best from either an inward or outward swing, but it depends on their location.
Bedrooms are often situated in hallways. If your bedroom door swings outward, it may be unsafe for anyone walking by.
Bedroom doors that swing inward are generally safer for everyone—they are easier to break down if a child ever gets trapped inside.
Conversely, a burglar will find it harder to break the hinges and intrude into your space since it is hidden inside.
According to Feng Shui traditions, doors that swing inwards welcome more positive energy. Bedroom doors that swing outwards are said to chase away positive vibes and make you more grumpy.
Patio doors should swing wherever they won’t hit any obstruction such as potted plants or coffee tables.
However, if there’s nothing obstructing them outside, they are better off swinging outwards so you can enjoy fresh air without any obstruction indoors.
If you want the best of both worlds, you can opt for French patio doors. These doors can be customized for one door to swing outward, and one to swing inward.
These swings will give you more freedom on how to open your doors, and you can change them anytime you install something on either side of the door.
Front doors often open inward, and for good reason. Doors that swing inward have their hinges hidden, so right off the bat, an intruder would find it difficult to enter your home.
During an emergency, first responders would also find it easier to enter your home.
Garage doors should be opened freely and in the same direction as the force applied when you’re in a hurry.
During a fire or an emergency, it would take you less time to push open a garage door than it would if you had to pull it. This consideration is critical to a life or death situation, so garage doors should always open outward.
Make sure you remove any potential obstruction from your garage door since this could serve as an easy exit during an emergency situation.
Why Door Swing Matters
Although you may not think too much about the way a door swings, you’ll want to pay attention when you’re remodeling your own house.
Your door swing should complement the activity in your home. It should also match the layout of the house to make it easier for you to move.
Different doors are better off operating in a particular direction. Garage entry doors and garage doors themselves need to open outward since they’re considered the easiest exit during emergencies.
Conversely, interior doors and front doors should be opened inward since it would be easier to shut out unwanted visitors: if they opened outward, they could easily block and trespass.
Latches and locks also operate better in inward-opening doors since they can’t easily be broken when someone pulls the door.
If you live in a small space where an inward-opening door would cramp the space, there are outward-opening doors with hidden hinges available on the market.
However, it could still compromise you in some way, so make sure you install more locks in place.
Keep Drafts Away
If the door’s hinges swing outward, a gust of wind can easily control it. At best, it could lightly swing your door open and close and make your space drafty.
At worst, your door could slam hard on the external wall and break during extreme weather conditions.
Read: "11 Cool Door Cover Ideas."
The swing of your door affects your daily routine regardless if you pay attention to it or not. Careful planning will rid you of any inconveniences, so make sure you account for every possible obstruction and plan your door’s swing direction accordingly.
As with any home fixture, consider what will make your home more secure and functional.