Should a front door open in or out?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Most front entry doors in our area swing inward, and the justification for it used to be that outswing doors are unsafe because their hinge pins are exposed outside, where they are easily popped out by a burglar to get into the house. But that argument doesn’t fly anymore. Most prehung entry door manufacturers now install special security hinges on their outswing doors that have non-removable pins. You must open the door and unscrew one side of each hinge to remove the door. Another type of security pin is only removable when then door is open.

    So outswing exterior doors have become more acceptable. But there are pros and cons for both types of door swing. Here’s our list:

OUTSWING DOORS

     PRO

  •  More resistant to high wind and driving rain in a storm. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends outswing exterior doors as more hurricane resistant because “positive pressures actually push them more tightly against the door seals, which helps reduce water intrusion, and because it is much easier to achieve impact resistance from an outward swinging door.” Most exterior doors installed in South Florida’s high-velocity hurricane wind zone are outswing for this reason.
  •  Not easily forced open from the exterior.

     CON

  •  Not practical in cold regions, where a heavy snowfall could prevent opening the door.
  •  Not what most people are used to.

INSWING DOORS

     PRO

  •  The customary swing for a front door. 
  •  Enables installation of a storm or screen door.

     CON

  •  Easier for a burglar to force the door open with a blunt impact. Conversely, this also makes it faster for fire/emergency services to knock the door down when necessary.
  •  Less weather resistant than an outswing door.

    Exterior doors for commercial buildings always swing outward, with just a few allowed exceptions, because the door must open in the direction of the flow of people exiting the building in an emergency. You will likely have your choice of which way to swing your residential front door, but we recommend checking with the county or municipal building department for any special local restrictions before making your decision. The available floor or landing area for the door swing is another consideration.

    Also, see our blog posts How many exit doors are required for a house? and Can a bedroom door open into the garage? 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

  To learn more about doors and windows, see these other blog posts:

What causes sweating (condensation) on the inside of windows in the winter? 

Is every exterior door of a house required to have a landing outside? 

 What are the small slots at the bottom of the outside of my window? 

Why does condensation form on the outside of some windows and not others in the morning? 

Why if the garage door track a white tube? 

What is the raised metal plate on the floor under the garage door?

 Why do I have to hold down the button to close the garage door? 

 Where is safety/tempered glass required for the windows of a house?

How can I tell if a window or glass door is safety glass? 

Why is pressure washing double pane windows an expensive mistake?  

 How many exit doors are required for a mobile/manufactured home? 

Are openable windows required to have window screens? Will windows with no screens pass a home inspection?  

What are the building code requirements for a door from the garage to the house?

What is "low-E" window glass? 

What does ANSI 297.1 on glass mean?

Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard?

How can I check my garage door to make sure it is safe?  

What is an egress window?

Does a home inspector test all the windows and doors in a home? 

How difficult is it to change a window to french doors or a sliding glass door?

How do you determine if a door is left-handed or right-handed?

Why are window security bars dangerous? 

What are the common problems you find inspecting windows?

What is causing a foggy haze on my windows? 

What do those numbers on the manufacturer's stickers in new windows mean?

What does a home inspector check on an electric garage door? 

• What is the tempered label on glass at windows and sliding glass doors called?

• Do I need to have two exterior exit doors in my house? 

• When is safety glass required for windows at stairs and stair landings?

    Visit our DOORS AND WINDOWS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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