Exterior Doors opening outward?

colorcrazyFebruary 2, 2011

Does anyone have an exterior door that opens outward? Not the storm door, but the main one. We are having a back porch built, with a small overhead roof so we are not standing in the rain to unlock the door. The back door is at a small landing between the steps to the basement and the three steps to the kitchen on the first floor.

The contractor said because the landing is so small (about 34' by 34") and the door is only 30" wide, that we would be safer with a door that opens outwards. He said they can be ugly because they have a big bar at the top to keep the door from swinging too wide.

The idea of safety appeals to me, so I am willing to consider it if it is not too ugly. Does anyone have this situation? Thanks!

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We do not have one as you describe. Was thinking most businesses have doors that open out. Might be able to get an idea looking at a business doorway.

We do have an interior door with what most consider backwards swing. We had it swing out into the hall to give more wall space in bedroom. Works great. Glad we did it.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Don't know where you are, but our door guy said that in our area, NE New York, exterior doors that swing out are against code, the theory being that if there was deep snow (like what we just experienced!) the door couldn't open. Could be deadly in case of fire.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 5:06AM
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wanto - that's a good point about not being able to open it!

I have 2 of them now - new place will have normal opening inward doors! finally... I don't like the open outward doors.

the wind will catch it and rip it out of my hand... and the dog can push on it and get out by herself! that's very dangerous. much easier for a little kid also...

when I lived in the midwest we'd have storm doors that opened out. they'd have a hydraulic bar on them at the top. it would keep them from slamming shut and breaking the glass and i think it also kept them from opening more than normal.

here I have a little chain on the top of the doors. both are broke tho - the wind was stronger than that little chain!

my new place has security doors front and back that open out. they don't have anything on them to keep them from flying open and flat back against the siding. My bedroom window is too close to the door and when the front one flew open the knob smashed into the window and broke it. We have to fix that one - well, both of them. Even tho the back one doesn't hit a window, i still don't want it continually banging against the siding either.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 5:59AM
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We had a set of french doors that opened out at our last house and they were fine for us because they were on the south side of the house and sheltered from the wind. We actually chose them because of a lack of space for an inward swing. BUT, we also had another exterior door in that room and didn't have to worry about egress. We didn't have a bar at the top, but that may be because they were french doors.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 8:25AM
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I have one and can't wait to replace it! It will take up more space...but I won't miss the wind catching the door and banging it against the big trash can. If we didn't have that there, it would bang into the house!

You situation is not unusual...what is it with builder's and small spaces above stairs? We used to have the same problem at my parents' old house, the back door was opposite the basement stairs, with a 3' landing area. I'd suggest that you enclose this new back porch and make that your entry. The door can swing in and you can have room to step in and then take a step of two to the landing area. It might be a little more money, but if you can afford it, what a great place for a few coat hooks, etc. :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:14AM
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I had an outside utility room beneath the carport. The door swung OUT into the carport space. It had hinges on the outside of the door, so it had the hinge pins exposed. I came home from a few months at work, and someone had pulled out a couple of the hinge pins, yet could not get the last one out. The door had a deadbolt which may have held the door. However, I was very much aware of the possible hazard for breaking and entering with exterior hinges after that.

I think it might be possible to change your door to a 30 inch door if you have another exterior door which is 36 inches?

A canopy over the door would help keep snow from falling on it, or maybe a covered entry way to keep blowing snow from creating a hazard. We don't have to think about snow here, which is a blessing, but we do have to worry about blowing rain and hurricane winds.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Thank you for all of the replies. You have given me a lot to think about. We are in Zone 7 in Virginia. Wanto, the back door is on the north side, so could get some snow. We rarely get deep snow, though. My guess is that the code here is different, but will check.

Lavender lass, we have seen other houses with extended entry ways. I wondered what that was about - your idea could explain them. Will have to look into this. I just turned 63, so my primary consideration is safety.

We are definitely adding a roof over the door, but it likely would not be enough to keep the wind from blowing the door.

Moccasin, the back door is 28" and the front door is 32" Good point about the hinges being outside. I will ask about that.

This house was built at the end of the depression - 1938. Although it has hardwood floors and cut glass door knobs with brass plates, it is a humble, small house.

Once I pay for the porch (don't have an estimate yet), I would like to see about replacing some of the cupboard fronts. But after that, I would be done - don't want to over-improve.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Hmm. In FL I've never in my life lived in a house where the door didn't open outward. I believe that may be required by code here.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 11:20PM
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I've rarely seen a residential main door that opened outward, even here in FL, and I've rarely seen a commercial door that opened inward! I always thought both of those circumstances were code, even though they are opposite!

I think the reasoning behind having an outward door on a commercial establishment is to prevent people piling up at a door in an emergency, and not being able to swing it inward due to the crush of people. Why an inward door would be code for residential applications is beyond me.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 8:13AM
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One can only surmise as to WHY, I suppose.

One thought about WHY a house door INWARD? Well, in snow country, the snow piled up at the door comes to mind. I asked my DH why inward residential doors. He said, "Custom?" And then it occurred to me, maybe because of INSURANCE. It would be easier for rescuers to break IN a door with the stops on the outer side.

So before you change your door to swing OUT, talk to your insurance person about it. See what their take is on it.

And Flgargoyle makes a good point about commercial doors opening out because of emergency exit. Again, I bet that is due to fire code or insurance companies.

It's an interesting question, WHY. Makes you wonder.

Colorcrazy, I admire your plan to NOT OVERIMPROVE on the house. Sometimes it is hard to know when/where to stop. One thing always seems to lead to another.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:52AM
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There were some interesting points made at the link about outward opening doors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Doors

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:53AM
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interesting link. many points made.

I don't like my doors that open out. will be so glad to live in new place with normal doors. I am very glad they each have one of those metal security doors tho.

OTOH,I've lived here for 12 yrs with doors that don't even lock and windows that don't close - so don't lock either.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 4:56AM
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My small laundry room has an exterior door that opened inward but would only open about half way because it hit the washing machine. I had a carpenter turn the door around so it opened outward--it works great. The hinges are on the outside but the racoons and opossums haven't figured that out yet. I came here while searching for an outside door that opens outward with hinges on the inside.....just in case....no luck so far. Never snows here so that isn't a problem

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Hmmm. We have storm/screen doors that swing outward, and we get LOTS of snow here. It has not been a problem for us. Do they not have screen/storm doors in New York? I used to live there, but I lived in a condo. I cannot remember the entrances of any of the homes I visited.

I can understand worrying that wood doors would rot from wetness, but many exterior doors are fiberglass or steel now. I can affirm that if you have a small landing that an outswinging exterior door makes things quite "interesting". We had a small concrete area at the top of our steps when we first moved in. There was no rail, and I thought that I would just slide right off trying to open the storm door when it was icy, and we had a newborn. We jackhammered those steps and built a deck that spring.

The point about the hinges being exposed to intruders is valid as well. The question is definitely food for thought.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 6:36PM
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The stop molding surrounding the door frame when it swings inward protects the door edges from damage too. It also keeps intruders from getting a pry bar to the edge of the door and prying it loose from either the lock side or the hinge side.
And, with the stops on the exterior, wind and precipitation are denied easy entry.

DH's house in MA has a back door which swings inward, but the storm door swings outward and it is on the north side of the house and really exposed to the wind and drifting snow. The worst year I remember it was piled up against the door and we had to get out through the basement---where the door rolled up and we could just kick the two feet of snow out of the way, or blow it away.

On boats that I've worked on, the bunk room doors opened outward. It was puzzling to me why, except the person inside might more easily push it open. And with water rising in a sinking boat, it might keep the weight of the water from pushing in the door and drowning a person quickly. It could give them a pocket of air in a sinking boat. It gives me the chills to think about it now.
Also, the exterior hatches (with dogs inside and out) also opened outward. Water is powerful. They made it harder for the sea to get in. All the time, it is tap tap tapping against the hull, saying, "let me in let me in."

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 9:23PM
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When I rented a commercial space, the doors opened outward. There was a break in while I leased there. They used a carpenter tool to cut around the locks. We all had dead bolts. They robbed two of the suites. I could see that they had drawn a circle around my lock, and started to cut, but for some reason, they stopped. They came at 6:00 in the a.m. (We all worked at night.) They stole information, a camera, and a vacuum cleaner.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:03PM
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Absolutely nothing wrong with having an outswing exterior residential door. make certain the door is ordered for an outswing and they use non removeabele pin hinges. As far as being able to break in if they really want to break in they will regardless whether it is inswing or outswing a wood frame will not stop anyone realistically. The downside to an outswing residential door in the inability too use either a screen or combination storm door.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:04AM
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yes, not being able to have a screen/storm door was a problem for me. I made my own inside screen. I had a space along the wall next to the door (hallway) I could slide it to when not in use. I used the side rail of a crib on the bottom to keep my dog from breaking thru the screening.

just a few days ago I took it apart. couldn't get it out the door in 1 piece! will cut down the crib rail and use at the doorway to the utility room for puppy when I want to contain her there. She'll still be able to hear me and probably see me most of the time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Go to Door Locks Direct you want a Non-Removable Pin NRP Hinges pins are locked in place and can only be removed when door is opened. for security issues

LINK http://www.doorlocksdirect.com/

Here is a link that might be useful: door locks direct

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:33PM
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