Cropped image of a hand opening a door with a right-handed door swing direction
September 10th 2021

Door Swing Direction: Left-Handed vs. Right-Handed

We barely think about whether a door set is left-handed or right-handed. After all, door handing or door swing direction is just something that we intuitively adapt to. To many property owners, most doors may look somewhat similar, until it’s time to shop for one.

Luckily, it is quite easy to determine the door swing direction or door handing that you would need. And in the case that you need to change how your door swings, there are solutions for that too.

We’ll cover the above and more in this complete guide.

A reverse right-hand door leading to a study area

Why Determining the Door Swing Direction is Important

There is essentially no right or wrong way that a door should open or swing. However, this could be something that you want to have complete control over.

By initially determining your intended door swing, whether it’s for a new door or for a replacement door, you will be able to get a fitting door with the right configuration of hardware.

How to Determine the Door Handing or Door Swing Direction

The terms “door swing direction” and “door handing” are often interchangeably used. If you ever hear a contractor, handyman, or door salesperson talk about this, they are referring to four options:

  • Left-handed door
  • Left-hand reverse door
  • Right-handed door
  • Right-hand reverse door

The above types of door swing directions are characterized by two main things: (1) the position of the hinges from the key side and (2) whether or not the door swings outwards or inwards from the key side.

Step 1: Stand on the Key Side

A door can take on different swing directions depending on which side you are inspecting it from. This is why the first crucial step is to be on the key side of the door. This side is alternatively called the “secure side” or the “outside” of the door. These latter terms cause a degree of confusion, so we will stick to the term “key side” for the remainder of this guide.

The key side is the side of the door from which you unlock the door and enter an area. Here are some examples:

  • The key side of the front door is the house’s doorstep
  • The key side of a bedroom door is out in the hallway
  • The key side of a backyard door is in the backyard

Step 2: Look For the Hinges

Once you are standing on the key side of the door and facing the door, look for the hinges:

  • If the hinges are on your left, the door is a left-handed door.
  • If the hinges are on your right, the door is a right-handed door.

Here are some tips to determine if the door is a “reverse” door:

Step 3: Test How the Door Swings

While standing on the key side of the door, observe how the door opens.

  • If the door has an inward swing that goes into the room, then keep what you have found out from Step 2. The door is either a regular left-handed door or a right-handed door.
  • If the door has an outward swing from the room, it is automatically a reverse door.
    • If you found it was left-handed in Step 2, it is now a left-hand reverse door.
    • And if you found it was right-handed in Step 2, it is now a right-hand reverse door.

Door Swing Direction Cheat Sheet

To put things together and to give you a quick reference, here is a cheat sheet.

The Door Swings INWARDS The Door Swings OUTWARDS
The hinges are on the LEFT Left-handed door Left-hand reverse door
The hinges are on the RIGHT Right-handed door Right-hand reverse door

Choosing the Door Swing Direction For You

As we mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong way that a door should swing. However, there are certain factors to keep in mind if you are still in the process of choosing.

  • Commonly, right-handed people will feel more comfortable with a right-handed door. Even if the door’s knob is actually on the left side for these types of doors. This is exactly what makes it comfortable for right-handed people because they are able to reach across and push the door easily using their dominant hand.
  • Be mindful of any artwork that you have hung that could be hit by the door. You can adjust your door swing direction so that your prized piece is out of harm’s way or relocate the piece.
  • Do you have certain rooms in the house or building with limited space? It could be best to opt for reverse doors for these rooms. This is to ensure that the space is not encroached by the needed clearance of the swinging door. Alternatively, you can also opt for sliding doors.
  • For bathrooms, you can make the door swing outward if you never want the door’s edge to be in contact with the bathroom’s wet areas.
  • For commercial spaces, exit doors are required to swing outwards.

A reverse right-hand door leading to the bathroom

Can You Change the Swing Direction of a Door?

Supposing that you change your mind about the door swing direction of a door in your home or property, what would it take to make changes?

For such modifications, you would need to have a decent amount of carpentry skills. For many, contacting a professional for these is the only sure-fire way to get the job done efficiently.

From Left-Handed Door Swings to Right-Handed Door Swings (and Vice Versa)

This kind of change involves taking down the door, repositioning the hinges and strike plate on the other side of the jamb, painting over the old marks left on the other side, and replacing the door’s hardware (lock, handle, etc.).

From Inswinging Door to Outswinging Door

This process involves removing the door, reconfiguring how the hinges are placed, making any needed modifications to the door frame, repainting any damaged parts, then rehanging the door.

Customizable, Chic, and Durable Doors For Every Need

Burano Doors is a leading manufacturer and seller of chic, secure, and durable doors that will serve you well for years to come. Whether you need a replacement door or are looking for new doors for a property under construction, we’ve got you covered.

If you want to learn more or have questions for us regarding how we customize according to your needed door swing direction, please feel free to reach out.

Contact us today for a FREE estimate!

Posted by Raj Kain
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