A lesson on doors

My wife likes to argue with me….a lot.  Recently we were talking about replacing our front door with a door that is still in the process of being refinished only the door has a left handed swing instead of a right handed swing, which is still doable, but will require rebuilding the jamb, etc.  This isn’t the point though.

So, I am explaining about the swing direction and I say that we can either have a reverse swing door or have a door that swings out instead of in.  She is adamantly opposed to this idea saying “I’ve never seen a house with a door that swings out”.  And she’s correct – I haven’t either.  This isn’t to say that homes SHOULDN’T have out-swinging doors.  After all, commercial entry doors are required to swing out.

Why you ask?  Well, most will tell you that the simple reason is because commercial doors have to swing in the direction of egress via the building code.  While this is true, it’s not the only or even the most important reason.  There are two reason why any entry door, be it commercial or residential, should swing out instead of in.

#1 – Security

A door that swings out can not be kicked in. The jamb stop prevents it.  For residences this is extremely important in times like these where people are increasingly desperate and are taking to daylight type burglaries like “smash and grab”.

#2 – Environmental

This is perhaps the most important reason for a door to swing out.  When you open a traditional entry door in a home you create a draft of outside air that floods into your conditioned space.  If  you have kids that can’t make up their minds and come in and out in and out 500 times a day, that is a huge load to put on your HVAC system which increases your energy bill.  Also, if you look at your door sill, you’ll see that there is a shallow rise coming in and then a drop at the door.  It’s very easy for driving rain to climb that shallow rise and seep into your house.

Now, if your door swung OUT, both of these conditions would be reversed.  A door that swings out pulls inside (conditioned) air out, letting no outside air in thus not increasing the load on your HVAC which keeps your energy bill lower.  Also, taking the driving rain problem, instead of that shallow rise that the water would easily traverse, there is a sharp incline or barrier that the water can not get up and over without defying the laws of gravity.

So, I think I definitely won this argument.  🙂  Next time you design a home, think about swinging that door out instead of in…seriously.

7 thoughts on “A lesson on doors

  1. Not to try and debunk your door theories… but for security, you can brace (foot, door wedge, etc) the door better if it is inward swinging. An outward swinging door is much harder to keep closed by pulling, rather than by pushing.

    Environmental… keep in mind capilary action and wind driven…water, can and does defy gravity. Also, HVAC systems help keep a house positively pressurized relative to the exterior of the house, this helps keep water out. Having the doors swing in, will aid the house in pressurizing by pushing the doors against the seals.

    Just my thoughts.

  2. Dude why you gonna go and side with my wife on this?! Dang, help a brutha out! 😛
    On security, an out-swinging door with a reinforced deadbolt will be nearly impossible to “pull” open, and short of driving a car through it, nearly impossible to “push” open either. No?
    While water does defy gravity via capillary action, it’s much harder for water to travel up a 90 degree rise than run over a shallow sloping threshold. You’re 100% right on the pressurization though. Can’t argue with that one. 🙂 But I’m sure there are steps to be taken to ensure a proper weather seal on an out-swinging door.
    Either method is acceptable, would you agree? Maybe we leave this up to “personal preference”?

  3. the other thing to keep in mind about an outswing door is that in colder climates, snow can build up against the door, making it impossible to open the door. Also, in cases where a storm door is used, on outswing door would make installing both the storm door and the exterior door impossible since they both swing in the same direction.

    In an effort to agree to disagree, I will offer up a positive to you for an outswing door… that it does not take up any interior square footage. This is key in small spaces.

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  6. With an outswing door, when the wind blows against it, it just pushes against the weather stripping, making it even more ‘air tight’. With an inswing, the wind pushes it in the house and could open up some air spaces along the weather stripping.

    • Actually no. Not really. Inswing doors work in the way you’ve described because the pressure inside due to a/c is greater than outside thus squeezing the door tighter against the weather stripping. Commercial doors, because of this, are prone to wind driven rain and loss of heated/cooled air to the outside – hence the lobby of most commercial spaces being hotter or colder than the rest of the building.
      Also, your locking mechanism will keep the exterior door from moving more than 1/16″ or so – depending on your hardware. As long as the door is level and plumb you’ll have no issues with inswing doors. Outswing not so much because there isn’t enough outside pressure to overcome the interior pressure.

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