Blog > Category Post > Posted: 2022-May-25, Updated: 2022-May-30

Should you change the swing of your entrance door?

Suppose you're thinking of replacing the front door of your home. Did you know you have an option to choose whether the door swings into (inswing) or out of (outswing) the home? Most people don't, but they do have the option, and there are plenty of reasons to choose one over another.

There are definite advantages to both inswing and outswing entrance doors, but, which swing direction is right for you, and what building codes, if any will apply to your specific desires. This article will explore the in's and out's of door opening directions (the swing) and provide you with pros and cons as well as building code resources for you to consider.

Since every home is different, the decision on which direction the door should open should be based on the construction/layout of your home and your personal needs.

Inswing doors (push to open - push to close)

inswing door

In the Ottawa area, you'll find that a majority of residential front entry doors open inward - and if you ask an installer why, most will tell you that they open inward because of the potential for snow buildup that could prevent a person from leaving a house. This includes single-family, townhomes and multi-family rental and condo units. Just because inward-opening doors have been the Ottawa standard for generations doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an outward-opening door for your home.

Pros

  • Snow buildup outside will not prevent difficulties when opening the door
  • Don't have to step out of the house to close the door
  • Security latch is easy to manage and operate
  • The door can be left in the open position and storm doors can be easily added for ventilation
  • Hinges are not exposed to the outside
  • Better accessibility for people confined to a wheelchair
  • The door does not swing out into visitors who are waiting for the door to be answered
  • Easily accommodates security devices
  • Removal of the door for any reason can be done by removing the pins (no wear and tear on hinge screws

Cons

  • Interior space - must leave room inside the house to accommodate inswing (lose floor and wall space)
  • Weather - more susceptible to wind and water because of their design
  • Accessibility - more difficult to exit in emergencies
  • Accessibility - difficult to access if a person has fallen against the door
  • Security threat - easier for a burglar to gain access to a home than an outswing door

Outswing doors (pull to open - pull to close)

outwsing door

Outswing residential entrance doors are not common in the Ottawa area (about 5% of our entrance door orders represent outswing doors) that doesn’t mean they are not allowed for residential entrance doors under the Ontario Building Code (See OBC 9.7.5.2.(8) & OBC 9.9.6.5. & 3.3.1.10).

Commercial buildings entrance doors on the other hand must always open outward (outswing, not inswing) to prevent possible issues during situations such as fire - quick evacuation.

Pros

  • Allows for more space and more flexibility inside the house 
  • Provides a stronger, tighter more secure fit as the doorstop (inner trim that prevents the door from swinging in) is on the inside of the house rather than the outside
  • May provide better insulation - wind and rough weather will push the door tighter
  • More secure, more difficult to push through (forced entry)
  • Winds and rain can’t blow any doors because they swing outward
  • Positive stop with a compression gasket, which creates a weather-tight seal using no friction. This makes the door easy to open
  • Outswing doors are notably difficult to force open from outside, making them great for security areas

Cons

  • Security threat - hinges are on the outside of the house (visible to burglars), however, the Ontario Building Code states that outswing doors must use closed hinges that conceal or eliminate removable pins
  • Security threat - most security devices (guards and chains) are catered to inswing doors, not outswing doors - there are fewer solutions which are more obtrusive
  • Maintenance - removal of the door for any reason must be done by unscrewing the hinges, not the pins
  • Accessibility - it may be difficult to open the door if heavy snow has packed up against it
  • Accessibility - difficult to open and close for people confined to a wheelchair
  • Accessibility - stepping out of the house is required in order to close the door
  • Accessibility - it is awkward when answering the door - have to push it out to where people would be standing
  • Weather - an open door is more prone to blowing open or shut in high wind
  • Weather - high winds may make opening and closing the door more difficult
  • Ventilation - it is not possible to install a storm door with an outward-opening door, however, retractable screens are available if you can find a way to securely keep an outswing door open

Swing setups (single doors)

  • Inswing left (IL): Hinges are on the left of the door - the door opens into the house or away from the opener. You must push the door, and it will swing to the left upon entry.
  • Inswing right (IR): Hinges are on the right of the door - the door opens into the house or away from the opener. You must push the door, and it will swing to the right upon entry.
  • Outswing left (OL): Hinges are on the left of the door - the door opens toward the opener or out of the house. You must pull the door, and it will swing to the left.
  • Outswing right (OR): Hinges are on the right of the door - the door opens toward the opener or out of the house. You must pull the door, and it will swing to the right.

What about sidelites?

Sidelites don't really figure into the equation for inswing or outswing doors. Sidelites can be positioned on either or both sides. The door manufacturer will insure that both the hing-side and strike-side of the door meet safety standards in regard to forced entry.

Building codes to consider

Exterior doors in detached single-family homes, townhomes, rental units and businesses... provide security and serve as a vital means of exit during a fire or other emergencies. Building codes help to ensure that these doors are built and installed to meet national, provincial and local requirements. Depending on where these doors are being installed, manufacturers and contractors abide by building codes that regulate door construction, size and which direction the door opens.

There are several organizations that provide guidance and suggested rules to provincial and local municipalities. Each local government incorporates their own rules, so it's important to check local guidelines before purchasing and installing inswing or outswing doors.

Ontario Building Code (OBC) | Direction of Door Swing

The Ontario Building Code is a regulation under the Building Code Act. It establishes detailed technical and administrative requirements and minimum standards for building construction.

International Building Code (IBC)

The International Building Code (IBC) is the foundation of the complete family of international codes. It is an essential tool to preserve public health and safety that provides safeguards from hazards associated with the built environment. It addresses the design and installation of innovative materials that meet or exceed public health and safety goals.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Exterior doors require single-operation egress, which means that a person should be able to unlock and open the door using only a single action.

Accessible Canada Act (ACA)

Although this act applies mostly to public buildings and spaces, it involves identifying, removing and preventing barriers in federal jurisdiction. the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) not only applies to the construction of new spaces and buildings, but it also governs organizations that offer goods and services; employ Canadian workers; provide accommodation; use a building and/or operate a business.

Summary

If you’re installing a new exterior door, installing an outward-opening door is certainly an out-of-the-ordinary option worth exploring.

If you would like to know more about outswing and inswing door configurations and conditions that may apply to your requirements, please give us a call or request more information via our contact form. We’d be happy to answer all of your questions.

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