The front door opens out?

gardencpaMay 26, 2007

My front door has probably been installed for a good three weeks now and I just noticed that it opens out instead of in. Ok, sometimes I am just slow. I looked at the plans and voila! that is what the plans indicate. The porch is covered so weather isn't an issue but I'm not sure I have ever lived in a house with a front door opening outwards. The hinges are on the outside too which seems to make it less safe. I won't be able to put a screen door on it now either unless I put it on the inside, which would be even weirder.

I'm not going to change it now because too much would have to be torn out but am I wrong that this seems weird? There have been a few other strange design things in my plan that I caught and changed early but I missed this one completely.

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Do you have a GC? He should have caught this. If not, the guy you ordered the doors from should have called this to your attention. It's not safe and should be corrected. All someone has to do is knock the hinge pins out to remove the doors and come into the house. Easier on the foot than knocking it in.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 6:24PM
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Yes, you are going to change it. How did this pass inspection? How did you get a building permit? I know there are some doors designed to open out, but the hinges are hidden, not "out there".

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 6:28PM
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That is what I was thinking about the hinges. Maybe there is something special about them I don't know and can't recognize. I do have a good GC though so I will ask on Tuesday. The house passed the inspection after the doors and windows were put in so either I am missing something or they are. I feel like an idiot that it took me 3 weeks to notice it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 6:38PM
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We had some french doors that had special hinges - they were kind of notched into each other such that when the door was closed, even if you removed the hinge pins, you could not remove the door. If you look at your hinge and the flat parts that ress against the door and the door jam have a little notchy thing and a slot in them, you've got secure hinges. Doesn't solve your other problems re: the screen door, but at least you wouldn't have to worry about getting robbed.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 8:36PM
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The only credible reason is storm wind resistance.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 8:39PM
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Thanks to all of you. Mightyanvil, we are in Florida so maybe it was a storm wind resistance design feature but I suppose it could just as likely be a mistake. I'm going by tomorrow and look more closely at the hinges and then we will talk to the builder on Tuesday. It will get worked out somehow. As long as it is secure, the screen door issue is one I can live with.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:20PM
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Hmmm interesting, In Sweden all houses have doors opening outward with safe hinges. I used to think it was odd when I came to the US and they all opened in.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:27PM
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I always found it odd to have front doors to open out. We are in FL too but our city will not allow any exterior door to open out - all must be in. I find this fine for the front door but for the french doors I would prefer them to open out. Unfortunately, we'll never pass frame inspection if the doors' swing is the wrong way so we have to live with it.

However, when we were looking at custom front doors, the designer thought it strange plans called for in-swing doors.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:11AM
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We are having outward opening doors (by choice). We're in a very windy area and it's not uncommon here. You do need secure hinges to make this a safe option. My biggest complaint is that I won't be able to have a screen door too.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:12AM
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I have always found it odd that doors in Florida are built to such high wind resistance standards when windows cannot reach that standard. Perhaps it is for projectile resistance. Frankly, I would not accept the liability for designing in hurricane prone regions. Maybe Architects in Florida can practice as corporations.

It is highly unlikely that it is a mistake. A door supplier would double check the order automatically when a door swings outward.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:39AM
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mightyanvil - I am starting to think you are right. I was lying in bed this morning thinking about my other exterior doors and they almost all open out, except for the one into the house from the garage, and that is at the top of the steps and would have to open in or it would knock you off the step when you tried to open it. It also might not be considered an exterior door, since it is inside the garage.

I'm just going to assure myself that the hinges are safe and leave it be.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 9:02AM
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I was ready to send a garage-to-exterior pre-hung door back to the manufacturer, figuring it was a production mistake. Then the client explained he wanted it opening out, as he was concerned his children might lock themselves in the garage accidentally and this would be a safe exit.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 9:49AM
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Why would opening out be a safer exit?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 10:14AM
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Could you use the side-storing roll-away screening in your doorway? (You can probably tell that I can't remember the brand name. LOL)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Why would opening out be a safer exit?

Too much junk in the garage?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 11:51AM
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Well in the case of a fire in your home and if you have to get out you actually have to open the door inwards by 3ft and then get out vs. it open out. Also if you got trapped you could kick it out.

Now that said I think cities want them inswing so emergency personel (and police) can kick the doors in.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 11:55AM
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The only way I know of to prevent a child from being locked in the garage is to use a hotel lockset on the man-door to the outside assuming the child can turn a door knob. If a child can't turn a door knob it is unlikely that they would get into the garage in the first place unless the house door is left open and they are unattended.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 1:36PM
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For our new house, I specified that all doors swing out. I was questioned about this several times, and the front door (ordered from a different source than all the others) arrived Friday swinging in. :-(

In high winds, a door that swings out is stronger than one that swings in:
"In the aftermath of the 2004 storm season, researchers found that high wind forces on in-swing entry
doors allowed considerable water to enter the home, because the weatherstripping gaskets rely on pressure in the
opposite direction. Complete blow-in failure of an in-swing door during hurricane-force winds can result in significant
water damage, and even to changes in internal pressure that contribute to roof uplift and significant structural
damage. Following Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, Mercedes found that owners who had opted for in-swing doors, rather than the now-standard out-swing configuration, suffered more
instances of damage."
Designing and Building Hurricane-Resistant Homes

The lack of screen doors is a hassle - but I will be checking into the pullout screens once we are in the house for the doors that do not open onto a screened porch.

Securing the hinges is simple - for a good explanation see the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Door Hinges and Home Security

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 10:47PM
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Thanks for the informative pieces on hurricane resisting designs.

When I ask for hurricane clips on roof rafters the framers look at me like I'm daft. "We never put these in."

Same for insisting on proper foundation-to-sill plate connections--despite the fact that all the homes destroyed (and people killed) in the 1987 Barrie, Ontario tornado could be traced to washerless connections allowing the homes to be lifted off their foundations.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 12:21AM
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woodswell- Thank you for the link to the hinges! That was an excellent explanation. We lived through the 2004 storm season in central Florida. No house damage but lost lots of trees and were without power for two very long weeks.

When you look at what has gone into securing the roof to our house, you can see how the storms (first Andrew in 1992 and then the storms in 2004) have changed the way a house is built in Florida. You would almost think it was excessive if you had not lived through a few hurricanes here.

My DH and I were talking about the doors yesterday and I will show him your information. We will just confirm with the builder about the hinges.

As usual, I thank you all on this site for the great information.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 8:21AM
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When a door is ordered with an out swing it should come with ether welded or screwed pins. While odd in a home they are standard in commercial buildings.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 8:46AM
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With pictures in hand from the link provided by woodswell, I went back by the house on the way to the grocery store. Every door opening out has a setscrew in the hinge.... except the front door, which appears to me at least to have only regular hinges. That only leaves me the question to ask the builder about the front door, which is what started this whole issue in the first place!

Boy, I feel much smarter now.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:47AM
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The class of hinge you are discussing is called a Full Mortise Butt Hinge with a Security Feature such as NRP (Non Removable Pin) etc.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:24AM
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I did a lot of research upfront on hurricane resistant building since I was planning my house during the 2004 & 2005 hurricane seasons. (In fact, we realized that our almost 30 year old mobile home was no longer structurally sound when the remains of Frances passed over the house!)

But every point I had learned about hurricane resistant building was anticipated by our builder. It really helps that he usually builds along the Florida coast and we're a good distance inland. So we're only in a 120 mph wind zone (just upped this year from 110 mph) and our GC usually designs and builds for 150+ mph winds.

In fact, though I thought the tie downs on the rafters were plenty good, the GC rejected them - he thought there was too much strain on them and made the framers re-do them. It is nice to have a good GC!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 6:22PM
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Well in case y'all are interested, DH spoke to the site foreman this morning and they are going to swap out the hinges on the front door. They discussed just flipping the door around within its opening but then it would open in but block the row of light switches. Since we had already decided to keep the outward-opening door, that sealed the decision.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:57AM
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Outswing doors are common (and typically required) in commercial settings; particularly for emergency exits due to fire code issues. If there is a fire and a large mob of people press up against an in-swing door to escape, the door cannot be opened and trapping everyone inside. Thus they are almost always outswing doors.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 11:00AM
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