How many exterior exit doors are required for a house?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

An exterior exit door is called an “egress” door in the building codes. A minimum of one exit door is required, and it should provide direct access from the living areas of the home to the exterior without traveling through a garage. Shown below is an example of a code violation: a conditioned living space that has been enclosed in a garage, and the only exit door opens into the garage.

    The door must be side-hinged (not sliding), and the minimum clear width of the door opening, when measured between the face of the door when open at 90º and the adjacent stop at opposite jamb, must be a minimum of 32 inches. Translated into simpler terms, this means the actual opening to get out in an emergency must be 32 inches with the door open. Because the thickness of the door reduces the clear opening, a 32-inch door would not be pass, but a standard-thickness 36-inch door is satisfactory. 

    Additional exterior doors can be a smaller width. The height of the opening must be a minimum of 78 inches, when measured from the top of the threshold to the bottom of the stop, so a standard 80-inch door would be fine (FBC and IRC R311).    Each exterior door (required egress door and others) must have a floor or landing on either side, except when steps with two or fewer risers are located on either side of the door. The width of the landing should be not less than the width of the door and 36 inches measured in the direction of travel.

    Although only one egress door is required, two doors positioned at opposite sides of the house give you an alternate route to get out if one is blocked by flames. Also, the building code requires an “egress window” in each bedroom that opens wide and tall enough for a person to climb out and fireman to climb in to rescue you. 

    Also, see our blog post How many exit doors are required for a mobile/manufactured home?

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  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 is 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? 

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

What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?• 

Should a front door swing in or out? 


How many exit doors are required for a house?

 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? 

Can a bedroom door open into the garage?

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?

Why is pressure washing double pane windows an expensive mistake? 

• 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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