Posted on: 26.03.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

An exterior door that opens inward feels familiar and inviting. It’s easier to enter a house with armfuls of groceries or children when the door swings inward. But there are practical reasons for this convention as well.

In addition to aesthetics, the reasons why exterior doors open inward relate to safety, maintenance, and climate. While outward-swinging doors are preferable under certain circumstances, they present challenges. Homeowners, builders, and remodelers should consider the trade-offs.

Safety reasons for inward-opening exterior doors

There are several reasons why a door that swings inward is safer than one that swings outward.

  • Visitors:  With outward-swinging swinging doors, there is a risk of colliding with visitors if they are in the way of the door. This is particularly concerning if they quickly step back or lose their balance on the edge of a staircase or landing.
  • Lockouts:  An outward-swinging door can catch a breeze and slam shut, potentially trapping someone outside. With an inward-swinging door, this is a much lesser risk. To be stranded by an inward-swinging door, the space would need to be freshly ventilated on a day with a strong wind blowing in just the right direction.
  • Burglars: The exterior hinges of older outward-swinging doors make it easier for burglars to remove pins and quietly break in. More modern outward-swinging doors now have security hinges for that very reason.
  • Emergencies:  In the event of a medical or fire emergency, first responders may need to break down a door. Doors that open inward are easier to break down in emergency situations since the door frame provides no additional resistance. While “easier to break” could be a security concern, it is also loud and draws attention – something criminals try to avoid.

Inswing doors do not have these issues.


Maintenance is easier with single-swing doors

While a porch or overhang of any kind provides some protection for any exterior door, an exterior door is still more exposed to the elements than an interior door.

On beautiful days when a door is left open to improve ventilation, an outward-swinging door is vulnerable to gusts of wind. A breeze can stress the hinges of an open outward-swinging door and possibly even the door frame itself. Inward-opening doors do not have this issue.


The top of an outward-swinging door can be exposed to the elements. The top of an outward-swinging door needs to be sealed with a special sealant, and that sealant needs to be maintained. The top of the door can’t dry out on rainy days, whether the door is open or closed. While it is still advisable to check the coating and hinges of inward-swinging doors, they are better protected from wind and precipitation and require less maintenance.

Climate considerations for exterior swinging doors

  • Heat:   Screen doors are often hung outside of interior doors. Typically, exterior doors don’t have screen doors at all, relying on windows and other doors, often sliding doors, for insect-free natural ventilation.
  • Snow and Ice:  A heavy snowstorm creates a lot of inconvenience, including the challenge of opening a door that can only swing into a snowbank. Snow and ice can seal a door.
  • Wind:  Wind can’t catch an inward-swinging door and slam it against the building – or against an unsuspecting visitor or homeowner.

When are outward-swinging doors used?

Although there are excellent reasons for exterior doors to open inward, there are some notable applications for outward-swinging doors.

Hurricanes In regions vulnerable to the strong winds of hurricanes, exterior doors are typically designed to swing outward. This reduces the risk of them being blown inward or being pushed inward by objects smashing against them at 220 km/h.
Emergency exits In buildings with large numbers of people like theaters, schools, offices, and apartments, emergency exits have push bars so crowds of people can push them outward. Getting a panicked crowd to make room for an inward-swinging door and keep it open would be difficult and could result in valuable time being lost.
Community regulations Local governments may mandate the direction of swing for exterior doors. Typically, this is for emergency exits, but it can also be in response to weather patterns like hurricanes described above.
Apartment complexes While the exterior door of a single-family home may comply with local norms, there are other considerations for entryway doors to apartments that open into hallways. In very narrow apartments, architects may find that the swing of an inward-opening door takes up too much floor space and so have the foyer doors swing into the hallways. Conversely, a narrow hallway would be a hazard to neighbors walking down the hall.

What materials are available for exterior doors?  

While vinyl and aluminum are popular choices for storm doors and patio doors, most people opt for sturdier materials for front doors and other highly visible exterior doors.

  • Wood:  Wood is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing material. There are many pre-existing design options as well as customization possibilities. Wood requires maintenance to preserve its appearance. Additionally, it can warp over time and may need to be replaced. Solid wood is more expensive than veneer over laminate, but both require care.
  • Steel:  Doors with steel skins over an insulated core offer the benefits of strength, security, and energy efficiency. Additionally, steel doors are low maintenance, apart from the need to protect them from rust. However, they are less attractive than wooden doors. Also, steel doors are easy to dent or scratch and difficult to repair.
  • Fiberglass:  Fiberglass doors are the most cost-effective option. They are insulated, low maintenance, and weather-resistant. However, they are also less attractive than wood and can break with a hard impact.
  • Glass:  Glass doors provide natural light and a good view of visitors. They have lower insulation capacity and offer less privacy. For front doors, some compromises can be made by incorporating sidelights or small windows. Glass sliding doors are another alternative to swinging doors but are not typically used as front doors.

Other considerations for choosing exterior doors

Energy efficiency is a promoted advantage of single-swing doors, but according to this article in Consumer Reports, more air is leaked through the gaps around the door or through the walls and roof of the house than through the relatively small area of the door itself. Other things to consider when choosing an exterior door are:

  • Existing door:  It is less costly to maintain the original dimensions of the door and its frame than to modify them. If you want to change the swing direction of the door, it can only be done by remodeling the door frame and jamb to prevent the door from swinging past the strike. While some doors come in door-plus-frame systems, it may be more cost-effective to replace a door than to replace the door and frame.
  • Privacy: Glass doors make it easier to see approaching visitors. However, they offer the same visibility to those outside, sacrificing some privacy. Peepholes, surveillance cameras, and sidelights can help with identifying visitors without sacrificing as much privacy as a full glass door.
  • Natural light:  Glass panels and sidelights let natural light into the room. This can be an advantage in winter when daylight is scarce but a disadvantage in warm weather when the greenhouse effect challenges the air conditioning, especially with south-facing doors.
  • Homeowner associations:  In some communities, there are strict rules about changing the appearance of homes. Exterior doors may fall into the category of unauthorized changes.
  • Swing arc:  Regardless of the direction your door swings, there is space where you can’t place a bench, flower pots, or other decor items, both inside and outside. The arc of your door can determine where people can drop keys, take off snowy boots, and set up dripping umbrellas.

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