Open in or open out? Hinges on the left, latch on the right? The direction your door opens/swings raise more questions than you’d think. We take our doors for granted but when it comes to replacing them, we are forced to consider all sorts of questions and answers that can make us even more confused.
Take front doors. Traditionally, Australian doors follow the British model, and open inwards. But why is this?
For a front door, the convention is that they open into the building simply because it’s not very welcoming to push the door into your visitor’s face – forcing them to retreat – before you’ve even said “Hello!”. Back doors and garden doors, on the other hand, generally open outwards. However, when you look at it from a security point of view, an outward-opening door is more secure than the conventional, making it very difficult for intruders to prize open or force their weight to get the door open.
So which is the correct way?
At Bespoke Front Door, we favour the conventional in welcoming guests into your home with an outward-opening door, but with top-quality locks for extra security.
When you think about it, living in London, in our climate, it’s unlikely that our garden doors and windows are open every day – especially throughout winter months. So, if they were designed to open inwards, we might find ourselves having to rearrange our living space furniture each time we wish to open up.
Another argument for having front doors opening inward is that in extreme weather events a build-up of snow outside could trap residents inside their house.
With pairs of doors, there is an additional question: which door should have the handle on it and therefore open first? The majority of humans are right-handed and therefore most pairs have the right-hander opening first and away from you – but, remember, that’s the ‘left-hander’ opening towards you when you’re approaching from the other side.
After that, you’d think that deciding the door swing for internal room doors would be easy. Doors off a hallway generally open inwards for the simple practical reason of avoiding blocking the gangway. The only exceptions are doors to walk-in storage cupboards. These generally open out into the hallway and this is seldom a problem since they are kept shut most of the time.
Public vs Private
Add to the confusion the different standards for public buildings, where you’ll find most doors open outwards, which is a safety measure in case a busy building needs to be evacuated quickly. Crowd pressure on an inward-facing door can prevent it from opening at all, so a simple push-out door is the easiest emergency exit.
So, with good points on both sides, the debate on inside or outside-opening front doors doesn’t look like being resolved any time soon. However, style and technology have moved on and today these are not your only options. Consider other styles of doors, such as sliding glass doors or extra security when it comes to locks and latches.