Standard vs. Wide Hallways

happymommyJune 17, 2008

What is the standard width of hallways? When people are including "wide hallways" in their floor plan for a more spacious feel, how wide do the hallways measure typically?

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allison0704

We a have really wide L shaped hallway in our lower level that is 5 feet wide. In one leg I placed a bench across from built-in bookcases (not out of the 5ft width) and in the second leg, I have a three drawer chest. Still plenty of room to carry things past. Also put in the maximum ceiling height (over 10.5ft) which is great too.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 7:07PM
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flseadog

The architect hated all the space I wanted to put into hallways. Upstairs we have what is best described as a H-shape hallway. The landing at the top of the stairs is 5' deep and the switchback hallway that leads to the master bedroom off of this is 6' wide. I intend to use this entire space as sort of an upstairs quiet sitting room and sunset view outpost. Bookcases and small comfortable chairs are what I have in mind. The connector hall of the H will be 4' wide just to allow 2 people to walk down the hall together to the children/guest bedroom wing. Seems more sociable to me. The next upright of the H at the end of this hall is 5' wide and leads to a porch with a sunrise view, if anyone cares to wake up that early, but also serves to separate the bedrooms at this end of the house for sound proofing purposes.

As I said, the architect hated all of this and insisted that current design practice was using all available space as "living" space inside of rooms. As far as I'm concerned all of these hallways are breathing and transition spaces that allow people to shift moods as well as location. I won because it's my house and my money.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 7:29PM
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frog_hopper

Standard is 36 inches. I have been researching this lately. Both from a reading and measuring perpective. I wanted to go with four foot hallways, but have reluctanly concluded that we can live with 42 inches. It is amazing how much difference six inches makes. 36 inches feels cramped to me. 42 inches does not. 48 feels generously expansive.

I envy anyone who can afford 60 inch hallways.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 9:34PM
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marthaelena

The good size of a hallway is 4' wide for a house bigger than 2,000 s.f.
3'is too narrow. 3'-6" to 3-8" is ok for a smaller house.

If the house is more than 3,000 is better to use wider hallways, specially if the hall is long.

IMHO it depends on the size of the house since 6" or 12" can make a difference in the final s. footage of the house. You do not want to waste space in the hallways on a tiny house.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 10:38PM
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marthaelena

allison,
What height of ceiling do you have or you recommend?
10'6" throughout the whole house?
thanks

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 10:52PM
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meldy_nva

One thing to consider, especially for anyone considering a 36" hallway. 36" is too narrow to comfortably navigate while on crutches, and I've been advised that some walkers and many wheelchairs are literally too wide to fit.

While it's true that halls are expensive "empty" square footage, it's also true that if you break a leg, you'll be glad for those extra inches. As one who has spent a great deal of time on crutches, I really hate halls that are less than 4' wide.

Also consider what furniture is going to be moved via hall. No way can you carry a 42" wide overstuffed chair down a 40" wide hall. It's almost as bad if you try to carry a laundry basket back and forth, because narrow halls skin knuckles.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:09AM
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frog_hopper

The minimum for a wheelchair to pass is 32 inches, IIRC. The minimum for a wheelchair to turn 90 degree into a doorway is 48 inches, and the minimum for a 180 degree turn is 60 inches.

There are numerous web sites laying these criteria out.

If you can do it, 48 inch hallways and 36 inch doors are a very good idea.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:39AM
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chisue

Halls, stairs and doors need to be *at least* 36" wide, IMO.

Our BR hallway is 42" wide; back hall is 48"; stairs are 42". Passage doors (and two bathroom doors) are 36". Entry door is 42".

No hall should be too narrow for a man walking with arms a-kimbo (hands on hips, elbows out to the side).

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:48AM
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frog_hopper

Chisue, how do you find the 42 inch stairs to be?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:02AM
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rhome410

House before last had 48" halls, which felt wide and luxurious. Last house had 36" hall, which was adequate, but felt a little tight and dark. In our new house, we couldn't give up the square footage for 4', so have 42" wide bedroom hallway. It works great for our large, busy family (often people passing in the hallway), even when the kids decide to leave a basket of clothes along one side. Our stairs are that same width. Nicely comfortable, while not feeling overly wide.

I'm with frog hopper...48" would be my first choice, 42" is plenty, and 60" is enviable, but not practical or doable for us.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:59AM
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marthaelena

If you have a 36" door on the end of a 36" hallway, how is it going to fit? (need room for jams and trim)

36" hallway is maybe ok when you do not have much traffic, is a small lenght hall and do not lead to more than 1 door so it does not get congested. if the door is at the end of the hall and not on the side then the door have to be smaller than 36"

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:07PM
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flseadog

Oh gosh. I just re-read my post and I didn't mean to imply that smaller halls weren't good enough. Maybe I'm still reacting to having to fight over this issue with the architect. Our house isn't terribly big or luxurious but I've lived in some really squished together houses over the years and hallways are synonymous with breathing space to me. I gave up some square footage in the master bedroom to get the six foot width to go with the upstairs landing because this was the best vantage point for someone to relax and watch the sunset. The architect fought hard about not wanting to do this and it seemed he felt it would reflect poorly on him if his "name" was associated with a small master bedroom and an "unnecessarily" large hallway. Since I don't hang out in my bedroom it was the bedroom that seemed unnecessarily large to me.

I do agree with the general point being made that a 36" wide hallway can be a hardship for furniture moving or for someone with mobility problems. The best way to approach the problem if you have any flexibility at all in room size vs. hallway size is to think about how you really live and where the extra space will be most useful or pleasing to you.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 3:17PM
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wyosue

I am trying to design an addition with a hallway and I was going to do a 5' wide hallway--is that too wide? There is a stairway going to the walk-out basement to the right of where I want to make the hallway. Can someone tell me how far away from the top step should I have the hallway start? Also, there is a window on the wall where we are going to cut the opening for the hallway to the addition--how far away from the window should the opening start?

Thanks,
Sue in Wyoming

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 11:03PM
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carolyn53562

We have 5' hallways (might be wider) on our 2nd floor and really like them. If you have room for them, I would get them as they really give a nice, spacious feel to the area.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 8:38PM
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bevangel_i_h8_h0uzz

We decided to go with a 66 inch wide hallway and line it with bookcases. I wanted a dedicated library but couldn't afford the room so this is the next best alternative.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 1:09AM
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RockAndAHardPlace

Ok I'm stuck. Literally stuck with a space that is 31 inches wide. I'm looking at adding two bedrooms over a garage. The problem is that widest access point between the beams is 31' wide. These beams are 6x10 and are load bearing so I cannot move them. The other beams are 2x10 trusses. Modifying these supports would double the cost of the project so I'm staring at using this 31 inch width for a four foot hallway. Finishing will cut another 1.5 inches off. I can cheat and move the insulated wall back to the next set of trusses and box in the beams to add shelves. This will give me the appearance of an additional 12 inches of width and let me get away with a thinner facing on the beams. Problem is the beams run diagonally so they will still get in the way. Any space gained will be an illusion as far as access is concerned. It sounds like some folks may have some experience with narrow halls. I would be curious if a four foot stretch of narrow hall that leads to a landing and two kids bedrooms would be a deal breaker when looking at a home. The last thing I want to do is "improve" the home and in the process make it harder to sell.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 2:00PM
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virgilcarter

Of course, the greatest efficiency is to have no corridors and do all circulation from one space to another through rooms. In many cases, however, this may be neither desirable nor possible.

The applicable building code will have minimum standards to be met in residences for exit corridor and door widths, headroom, floor levels and, in sleeping rooms, a secondary exit window. Anyone building a new house, or remodeling an existing house, would be well advised to ensure they are familiar with and in compliance with their local building codes.

As has been said above, the best design dimension for a required corridor that is designed for 1-2 people passing, carrying furniture and large objects is 4-feet clear. The same applies to stairs which are required to move large furniture objects up and down, besides letting people move between floors.

A 36" door or framed opening should be the minimum width for all major rooms and circulation spaces. With 4" trim on each jamb and the head, that comes to approximately 3'-8" wide--another reasong for corridors that are 4-feet clear.

Bath and closet doors may be 32" and work reasonably well.

4-feet clear is also a good design dimension to use to caluclate circulation spaces in living rooms, kitchens (5-feet clear minimum is better for two people, for disabled people and for such things as refrigerator/oven doors when open). Of course, large spaces and houses may increase these dimensions where appropriate, but I'd never go less than these dimensions unless there was some special, over-riding reason.

Regardless, RockandAHardPlace's 31 inches is a deal-breaker. Gotta find another way.

Good luck on your projects.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 3:24PM
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mrspete

Growing up, my mom's house had a 5' hallway. It was oversized, and she used the space by adding floor-to-ceiling bookcases down one side. We kids used to lay in the hallway in front of the bookshelf to read, and it was plenty big for other people to pass by.

I wouldn't plan a hallway that wide UNLESS you're planning something like a bookcase.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Sophie Wheeler

RockAndAHardPlace your plans will not meet building codes. That is certainly a complete deal breaker and would never pass any type of inspection! You need to contact your local building codes office to find out what permits and inspections you will need to undergo in order to have living space over your garage. There are quite a few requirements that you need to be aware of for safety's sake.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 8:21PM
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RockAndAHardPlace

That is what I was afraid of. I had a feeling that three feet was the minimum. Thank you for the verification. The code book is tough to go through for a layman and I'm one of those people that likes to educate himself before getting quotes from the professionals so I know what I'm looking at on the quote sheet.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 11:31AM
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virgilcarter

Rock, do you have a local building department? They would be the place to visit for information and insight into not only what the building code requires, but also how you will need a building permit and how to obtain it.

Any work without a building permit may not only jepordize the completed work (it may have to be undone), the occupant's safety and also be a severe liability if you ever decide to sell. Best course of action is to things legally, by the book!

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 1:11PM
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