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I am trying to identify the questions and understand how to make a decision as to whether I should use an in-swing or out-swing exterior door. I am replacing an existing door in Florida for my private use.

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8 Answers 8

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Not just an opinion question, actually..

Speaking as a locksmith: It is easier to properly secure an inswinging door. The hinges are not exposed, and you don't need to make special provisions to protect the latch and/or bolt from attack.

Speaking as a homeowner: if you're snowed in, then opening an outswinging door may be significantly difficult.

Depending on where you are, how much you care about these issues, how secure neighboring houses are, and how much you are willing to spend on this door, these may not be the most important factors. But they do explain why inswinging doors are much more common in my part of the world. Elsewhere folks may have the luxury of it being entirely a matter of opinion and personal needs.

The choice of whether hinges are on the right or on the left, on the other hand, is entirely a matter of personal opinion. However, be aware that the edges of a door are shaped differently -- the hinge side is cut square, while the latch side is cut at an angle to allow a bit of extra space as it rotates while opening -- so if you want to change from left to right or vice versa you either need a new door, need to turn the door upside down (which puts locks and windows at the wrong height), or need to rework the door edges and possibly the door frame a bit, in addition to the cosmetic work of cleaning up old screw holes and hinge rebates/rabbits.

There may be other concerns I'm not thinking of at oh-god-hundred hours. But these are real.

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    Yeah, with outswing you need special security or fast-riveted hinges, or jamb pin screws, to secure the door against hinge-side attacks Jan 22, 2023 at 17:36
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Some people are calling this opinion based, and part of it is, but there are tangible advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

Inward swinging doors have the following quantifiable benefits:

  • They are easier and cheaper to make secure against tampering, because the pivots for the hinges can be inside as opposed to outside. You can make an outward-swinging door almost as secure, but you need to spend the time and money to do it right (usually with special hinges).
  • In locations which regularly receive heavy snowfall or experience significant amounts of icing on the ground, snow drifts or thick ice on the ground outside of the door will not prevent you from opening the door (though you may have trouble closing it again).
  • In areas with high winds, an inward-swinging door is slightly less likely to be damaged by the wind when opened (because it is less likely to be caught by the wind).
  • If the exterior area that the door opens on to is small, an inward swinging door will be easier to deal with than an outward swinging one.

In contrast, outward swinging doors have the following quantifiable benefits:

  • If you may need to exit through the door very quickly, it will be easier to do with an outward swinging door.
  • As a result of the above point, outward swinging doors are actually required by building codes in some places, though the exact requirements vary significantly (some places don’t care, some only require them for emergency exits, some only for commercial buildings, some on everything).
  • It’s usually easier to make an outward-swinging door water-tight, because any pressure on the seals will tend to push them further closed.
  • If the interior area that the door opens on to is small, an outward swinging door will be easier to deal with than an inward swinging one.
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    This is why (here in Germany) public buildings are obliged to use out-swinging doors.
    – RedSonja
    Jan 23, 2023 at 7:32
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    In case of fire inside the building, inswing doors can become a death trap, in two ways. 1: Heat can create such a pressure that inswing doors cannot be opened, the pressure keeps the door tightly shut. 2: In public buildings, people rushing out can prevent opening the door. Jan 23, 2023 at 15:03
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    @RedSonja Note that in addition to being out-swinging, most doors in public buildings (in the US at least, I'd assume it's similar in Germany and most other places) do not require turning a handle or knob to open, for the same reason. You just push them. They're designed to be easy to open from the inside to facilitate evacuations in an emergency. Sometimes there will be a push-bar, which can be easily operated even if you're being crushed by a panicked crowd behind you, but that's about it. Jan 23, 2023 at 15:42
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    To restate Jani Miettinen's #2: If there are a substantial number of people trying to exit through the door, the press of people can prevent an inward-swinging door from having the space to be opened, potentially also causing crushing deaths. Once open, it's likely the flow of people catches the open, inward-swinging door and closes it, which then is hard or impossible to reopen. Inward swinging doors can cause a substantially higher number of deaths due to preventing people from exiting in an emergency. Such can happen even if not blocked, due to the higher level of thought necessary to exit.
    – Makyen
    Jan 23, 2023 at 18:02
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    The emergency door thing isn't just theoretical - that rule is written in the blood of people who died from being crushed up against the only exit door that wouldn't open outwards.
    – user253751
    Jan 23, 2023 at 19:45
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The answer will heavily depend on your location in the world. In Florida all new construction and major renovation must have outswing doors. There are advantages and disadvantages. You have to find out if you have code requirements first.

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    Interesting. Definitely better in commercial buildings for fire safety. And certainly no snow issue in Florida. Jan 23, 2023 at 3:02
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    outswing is braced better against hurricane winds.
    – RMDman
    Jan 23, 2023 at 3:06
  • I hadn't thought of that. That definitely makes sense for Florida! Jan 23, 2023 at 3:13
  • To confirm, this applies to residences, too, @RMDman? I've known about the commercial requirement in the US for ages...
    – FreeMan
    Jan 24, 2023 at 13:10
  • yes it applies to residences.
    – RMDman
    Jan 24, 2023 at 13:49
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It's far more welcoming to not be swept off the porch by an outswing!

And, if you feel the law may arrive with their big red key, outswing is the way to go.

If the door is completely exposed to bad weather, then outswing will afford slightly better sealing as even a slightly bad seal will still stop ingress of rain, snow, etc. Also inswing will allow the door to drip water inside the property.

If you feel there may be a need to get out of the house in an emergency situation, the, like a lot of shops, use an outswing.

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If the building is in any way public, or a place of business, e.g. you have an office in your house where you receive clients, there may be fire safety regulations that state that the escape routes must have doors that swing in the direction of escape.

Whether such a regulation exists in your country or city, and whether the building is of a type that falls under that regulation, is something you will have to check out with the relevant authorities.

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I just learned that outswing exterior doors are shorter than other doors due to how the threshold works, so if you're looking to align trim or switch types this may be a consideration

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It depends on where you are, as to the regulations.

  • Down under commercial buildings are required to outswing with no dead locks. SO, in case of a fire, its easy to get out.

  • Where as for residential properties, they want inswing doors so that firemen can kick them down.

Maybe your area does not have a regulation, but in the regulations above is a reason to have inswing doors in your house.

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This is really an opinion based question which we frown upon here. It's really up to you, what YOU prefer, either is fine. I have several outdoor doors, some of which are in-door swing, others outdoor swing, depending upon the location. If the area is well covered, like a balcony or wide walkway, I prefer an outward swing, but again, it's simply personal preference. No wrong answers here.

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  • It bothers me that I got DV'd on this answer even though I mentioned right up front it was an opinion based answer. I thought I provided useful information. I use DVs very cautiously , I would hope others would too and hope that whoever DV'd me on this sincere answer would re-consider. Jan 27, 2023 at 23:18
  • Guessing, since I didn't DV: You gave an opinion based answer, but labelled it as a response to an opinion based question, which isn't actually correct. (Opinion-based questions get closed.)
    – keshlam
    Feb 26, 2023 at 15:02
  • So I get 3 DVs while the OP's question gets 7 UVs and austin gets 17 UVs for basically the same answer. Go figure .Grumpy now. Feb 26, 2023 at 17:05

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